Same-sex marriage, gay marriage, or equal marriage? Category construction in a corpus of 21st century newspaper texts

Paterson, Laura L and McGlashan, Mark (2024). Same-sex marriage, gay marriage, or equal marriage? Category construction in a corpus of 21st century newspaper texts. Journal of Language and Sexuality, 13(2)

Abstract

Changes to marriage legislation across the globe have received much academic and public attention. However, the labels used to categorise different marital configurations are somewhat under researched. In this paper we analyse the premodification of marriage in a corpus of UK newspaper articles (2000–2018) to establish which labels are most commonly used in reference to same-sex marriage. These are gay marriage, same-sex marriage, homosexual marriage, and equal marriage. Drawing on the notion of category construction, we emphasise the fact that these labels are not neutral synonyms, as that each encodes a particular understanding of same-sex marriage. Some labels even linguistically exclude certain groups, such as those who are bisexual or transgender. We use the tools of corpus-based discourse analysis to consider the nuanced differences between the category labels and consider whether the limitations of the labels are ever directly challenged.

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