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Lexical Leavings

by Tom Gally

When using Google to search for examples of phrases that include personal pronouns, I usually get higher hit counts with masculine pronouns. This apparent sexism of the World Wide Web extends across most sentence patterns, including many that have no obvious gender orientation:
"looked at him through the door" 9
"looked at her through the door" 2

"then he told me that" 5,280
"then she told me that" 3,580

"had a book in his hand" 611
"had a book in her hand" 123

"when I first met him" 12,300
"when I first met her" 8,010
There are exceptions, though:
"looked at himself in the mirror" 4,560
"looked at herself in the mirror" 8,030

"tears ran down his face" 3,200
"tears ran down her face" 3,950

"when he was pregnant with" 8
"when she was pregnant with" 4,630
Some Japanese results:
と彼は言いました 995
と彼女は言いました 966

彼をじっと見た 69
彼女をじっと見た 40

彼に会った時に 101
彼女に会った時に 86

彼の涙が 251
彼女の涙が 687

彼が妊娠していた 0
彼女が妊娠していた 58
(February 23, 2003)