Investigating the words women use to describe themselves

This summer, I will conduct research on the English words that people who identify as women use for themselves and what words they find acceptable to use, especially in relation to age. For children, the word ‘girl’, is widely acceptable, but the matter of at what age people should no longer be called ‘girls’ is a tricky one. In my experience, many teenagers and young adults do not want to be referred to as ‘girls’, but they do not necessarily feel as though ‘women’ fits them either. My idiolect of American English, and the dialects of most of my peers do not have a word that specifically describes female adolescents and young adults. The word after ‘girl’ is ‘woman’, or ‘women’, for which I feel too young. Somewhat separate from age distinction is the word ‘lady’, but the word has a negative connotation in some cases. Thus, I have returned to ‘girl’ in recent times.

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