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Le casse-tête de la traduction du mot « gender » en français

Josiane Hay
p. 113-126


This article presents the difficulties encountered when translating into French the English word « gender » meaning « the sex of a human being, from the point of view of the social and cultural as opposed to the biological distinctions between the sexes » (J. Ayto, 1999). There is no French term expressing this concept, which means that, depending on context, particularly when « gender » is differentiated from or contrasted with « sex », it is difficult to avoid using the calque « genre ». This anglicism is commonly used in French speaking Canada and sociologists and psychologists writing in French use it in professional literature. The word « genre » in this sense, however, is not understood or is misunderstood by most French speakers. Consequently, translators have to resort to various other solutions, taking into account readability, coherence and respect for the author’s ideas. The article illustrates these problems and gives a few other examples of terms posing the same type of difficulties due to their reflecting another way of seeing the world, i.e. another culture.

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Bibliographical reference

Josiane Hay, « Le casse-tête de la traduction du mot « gender » en français », ILCEA, 3 | 2002, 113-126.

Electronic reference

Josiane Hay, « Le casse-tête de la traduction du mot « gender » en français », ILCEA [Online], 3 | 2002, Online since 08 June 2010, connection on 17 May 2022. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Josiane Hay

Université Joseph Fourier
Université Stendhal-Grenoble 3, GREMUTS

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