Perceptions of the word kväär ‘queer’ among the Estonian LGBT community


Keywords: linguistics, LGBT studies, queer theory, queer linguistics, corpus linguistics, vocabulary, Estonian language

This article explores the linguistic representations and perceptions of the words queer and kväär within the Estonian LGBT community. The study delves into the evolution of LGBT vocabulary in Estonian, focusing on how kväär, the equivalent of the English queer, is perceived and used.

Using corpus analysis and an online survey among the LGBT community, the research reveals nuanced attitudes toward kväär in Estonia. The corpus data shows shifts in usage frequencies of LGBT related words that reflect societal debates. The word kväär is multifaceted, used in various contexts, and represents intentional resistance to societal norms or expectations. It also serves as a lens for observing phenomena from a non-conformist perspective. Additionally, it marks membership in the LGBT community without necessitating a specific critical context.

The online survey results show diverse attitudes towards the word kväär among the LGBT community, with a slight tendency towards negative interpretations. Gender and age were identified as significant factors shaping attitudes, with non-binary individuals and those under 30 generally expressing more positive views.

Thematic analysis of the survey responses uncovers underlying themes and sentiments associated with the word kväär, elucidating various ways in which it is conceptualized and employed within the community. Themes that surfaced in the survey show the complexities and multifaceted nature of kväär as a linguistic construct, shedding light on its role in identity formation and community dynamics within the Estonian LGBT context.

Aet Kuusik (b. 1982), MA, University of Tartu, Junior Research Fellow in Linguistics (Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu), aet.kuusik@ut.ee



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ET = Eesti Trendid. https://www.sketchengine.eu/estonian-trends-corpus/

Feministeerium. https://feministeerium.ee/category/sona/

ÜK 2021 = Eesti keele ühendkorpus 2021.




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