Earlier versions of this article
were presented as papers at the International Gender and Language Association
 The term Third Wave feminism is not one which the theorists I discuss necessarily adopt themselves, but they seem to share certain similarities of focus and theoretical position which can be summed up as indicating a shared critique of certain aspects of Second Wave feminist work.
 Whilst the term Second Wave feminism is fairly uncontentious, referring to the largely liberal and radical feminism of the 1960s onwards which argued for the equality of women, the term Third Wave feminism is more contentious. A recent conference at Exeter University (2002) on the subject of Third Wave feminism together with the work of Mary Bucholtz (1999) and Janine Liladhar (2000) have convinced me that Third Wave feminism is a preferable term to postfeminism (which assumes implicitly that the aims of feminism have been achieved and that therefore feminism is largely irrelevant) and postmodern feminism (which has difficulty formulating any notion of a political programme).
We need to question the homogeneity
of our current characterisation of Second Wave feminism. In a recent paper
 Tag questions are questions such as `It's very hot in here, isn't it?' or `You don't want to go yet, do you?' which were characterised by Lakoff as less assertive and potentially more manipulative than direct commands or requests. Back channel behaviour consists of the use of `mmm', `hmm', and `uhuh' by the hearer to signal support for the speaker during a turn at talk and to signal also that the hearer does not intend to take a turn. Lakoff and others claimed the women used more tag questions and more supportive back-channel behaviour.
 These can be seen to be analogous to Jennifer Coates' (1998) co-operative and competitive strategies.
This is rather curious because
many of the linguists who draw on
 For example, in talking to your grandmother, because of an assessment of her judgement of the meaning of swearing, you may decide to swear less than you would in the company of your female friends (this depends on the grandmother and the friends).
 This concern with process means that Third Wave feminist do not stress the elements within an individual's identity which do seem to be fairly consistent. Since each individual does seem to develop linguistic habits and verbal tics which give a certain predictability to individual linguistic behaviour, this overemphasis on the variability of the individual might be seen as a disadvantage. Again it is a question of emphasis, and there are ways of integrating a concern with process without entirely dispensing with the notion that certain elements are relatively stable.
However, in other contexts
of intimate conversation, research has shown that males may in fact engage
in combative displays of aggression and verbal play (see the essays in
 It could however be argued that Tony Blair's speech style is a mixture of assertive conventional masculinity and a more informal feminine style, and this may be part of the planned projection of Blair's persona by his media advisors (Fairclough, 2000)
 Those in positions of institutional power in Diamond's study can `afford' in a way to use indirectness because others interpret their indirectness in relation to their status; thus, their indirect suggestions may well be interpreted by others as having the function of commands, as Manke (1997) has shown to be the case when teachers use indirectness in their instructions to children in schools. Thus, if we are truly to analyse the local context, we cannot simply ignore the force of institutional status as Schegloff and other conversation analysts insist that we do, paying attention only to the way that participants orient to status within the interaction (Schegloff, 1997)
 For a fuller discussion of this issue see my (2003) article ` Caught between political correctness, sexism and anti-sexism: feminist negotiations with naming practices'.
 For an exemplary policy, see the Greater Manchester Police's equal opportunities language policy (2000; 2001)
 However, it should be noted that `chairperson' is unerringly used for female convenors and not for males.
 For those languages with a gender system, where gender is a morphological feature of the language, such as in French, German and Arabic, sexism is much more sedimented than it is in English; thus in French it is much more difficult to say `la Ministre' if you want to refer to a female minister, since the word for Minister is masculine. Furthermore, the rule in these languages that you use a masculine pronoun and noun ending for plural nouns if there is a masculine and a feminine referent together is one which causes great difficulty for feminist speakers. There are similar problems with highly gender-inflected languages such as Arabic and Berber, as Sadiqi has shown (Sadiqi, 2003). However, as Pauwels argues (1998) changes are taking place in all Western European languages at a morphological level rather than just at the level of semantics. This type of sedimented sexism can only be contested using a Second Wave feminist analysis, and contrary to some Third Wave feminist assertions that reform of sexism is impossible, although change is difficult and slow, it is possible.
 These seemingly more sedimented forms of overt sexism are changing rapidly, so that although one does hear the use of the generic pronoun, terms such as `hostess', `spinster', `aviatrix', and so on seem anachronistic and many of my undergraduate students simply do not recognise these as examples of sexism which they might use or hear.