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Research Proposal: The Evolution of Terminology in the Aro Community


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Hi, aros. I wanted to share a short summary of a research proposal I drafted for one of my courses.


Unfortunately, with my current time taken up by AUREA, data analyses for other arospec and a-spec surveys, and my thesis (which is not on queer things at all), I am not sure when this kind of research could get done.

However, that’s where you come in. I would be happy to send along some sources and literature review (i.e., my whole research proposal document) if someone, or a group of someones, is interested in carrying out some or all of this research. I’d also be happy to help guide the research or give advice. Reach out to me if this sounds like something you’d be interested in doing, now or later, or leave comments about your thoughts on this. There's no deadline for this, but I wanted to share it before I forget.



The aromantic community is relatively new. As it develops, aro-specific terminology and conceptualizations develop alongside it. Recently, there has been a spike in the rate of term coining, particularly to replace already-existing terms. Questions of term usage and policies around term reinvention, coining, and adoption have surfaced in intra-community discussions:

  • What should the community’s policies around changing and emerging terminology be?
  • Does the community have a static language policy or does (and will) it change over time?

The purpose of the research proposed herein is to investigate the evolution of terminology in the aromantic community, particularly as compared to other queer groups. This research may help the community make sense of their language policy practices.


Conceptual Overview


Language and Policy

Language policy can be broadly defined as a mechanism that impacts the structure, function, use, or acquisition of language. Language policy can be a legal document that legislates how a language should be used, from the top-down in terms of power, or it can be an agreed-upon set of practices at a micro-level in a local community. The latter is the case the aromantic community’s language policies fall under. The orientation to language policy that aligns most with the language policy under study in this research is a rights orientation. Language-as-right and language policy as a process to obtain those rights is embedded in the aromantic community’s discussions about protecting every community member’s freedom to using terms that describe themselves best. 


Queer Language Policies

Queer communities’ policies around term coinage, replacement, and reclamation are highly varied and context-dependent. There are no universal policies for dealing with term evolution. Nevertheless, there are common patterns evident in the evolution of terms in various Queer communities. Term evolution in all Queer communities is moving towards greater specificity, even in the cases of new, community-unifying terms. Rejecting binary conceptualizations and antonymous terms is also a marker of term evolution of recent. This is at least true of older communities under the broad Queer umbrella, such as the gay, lesbian, and trans communities. Whether a new term is created depends on a number of sociohistorical factors. Whether a new term replaces an old one is something that varies and will continue to vary as queer terms take up positive and negative connotations through their use.


Research Approach


Research Questions

  • Q1: What are the aromantic community’s practices and policies surrounding term reclamation, coinage, and replacement? Have they changed over time? What sparked those changes?
  • Q2: How do these policies and practices compare to historical and modern practices and policies of other Queer groups?



  • Discourse Analysis: analyzing the meaning and significance of discourses about policy in relation to their broader socio-historical context
  • Media discourse data: intra-community media discourses within the aromantic community (e.g., posts on social media platforms like Tumblr, blogs, Wordpress sites, etc.) that address term coining, replacement, and/or reclamation in some way
  • Unstructured interview data: unstructured interviews with representatives of non-aro queer communities, with open-ended questions about their term evolution histories and community policies regarding term coining, replacement, and/or reclamation
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