Feminine Personal Nouns in the Polish Language. Derivational and Lexicographical Issues

  • Agnieszka Małocha-Krupa Institute of Polish Philology, Philological Faculty, University of Wroclaw, Poland
Keywords: feminativum/feminine personal nouns, word formation, lexicography, language culture, emancipation of women, feminisation, gender morphology, gender and language, derivation, pragmatics


The paper is dedicated to issues related to designations of women in the Polish language from the second half of the 19th century until the present time. The socio-cultural history of a group of Polish feminine personal nouns (referred to as feminitives or feminatives) which denote women's social and/or occupational status is discussed. It is argued that feminine personal nouns have been directly dependent on various ideologies: women's emancipation, socrealism and feminism. Ideologies have impacted the use of feminatives, by intensifying or limiting their use in discourse during a particular period, and the attitude of language users to ideologies has influenced the way in which feminatives are perceived. While presenting the richness of the repertoire of gender exponents in contemporary Polish, the possibility of the incorporation of feminine personal formations into dictionaries of general Polish in a scientific and objective manner is investigated. A similar idea was proposed at Wrocław University, as a result of which a group of female lexicographers compiled Słownik nazw żeńskich polszczyzny [Dictionary of Polish Female Nouns]. Some of its innovative lexicographical assumptions (description, not prescription, a discourse-centred method) are discussed in this article. The text corpus presented in the article enables the reader to trace the history of feminine personal nouns in Polish, i.e. their disappearance and re-appearance in the language.

Author Biography

Agnieszka Małocha-Krupa, Institute of Polish Philology, Philological Faculty, University of Wroclaw, Poland