Beyond the usual: the modification of gender in a British Lonely Hearts column

Carol Marley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Writers of dating ads are both buyers and sellers in the dating market-place, constructing textual identities for their selves and their desired others. These representations of 'advertiser' and 'target' identities are realized textually as nominal groups. This article investigates the ways in which the advertisers both construct identities and negotiate the potentially conflicting roles of buying and selling, by analysing the structure of the nominal groups that construe them. It is argued that choice of headword constitutes a fundamental categorization of self and other, while modification can be interpreted as strategicallly related to buying and selling roles. The analyses show gendered patterns in the structure of nominal groups used by women and men to realize their self and other identities, which suggest an overview in which women primarily adopt the role of seller in the dating market-place, while men primarily position themselves as buyers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-306
Number of pages36
JournalText & Talk
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000


  • dating advertisments
  • categorization
  • nominal group structure
  • gender
  • identity construction
  • dating market-place


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond the usual: the modification of gender in a British Lonely Hearts column'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this