The article attempts to show how the notion of stereotype is used in recent French publications, mostly linguistic but also from related fields (research on stereotypes is often interdisciplinary in nature). For French authors, the main characteristics of stereotypes are: recurrence, reconstitution of stable features, social character, simplistic nature and schematicity. For analytical or descriptive purposes, the characteristics are used differently in different linguistic trends, which results in various interpretations of what stereotypes are and how they function. Some authors understand stereotypes in a narrow way and restrict their descriptions to the way the latter function in language (as components of the meaning of linguistic expressions or factors contributing to intratextual relationships); others adopt a broader perspective, closer to Lippmann's (social) understanding of stereotypes as factors facilitating communication within a given social group (this approach is characteristic of the methodology of teaching French as a foreign language). The notion of stereotype does not have one clearly and precisely defined meaning; due to its vague boundaries it is used frequently and resorted to in the analyses of various semantic, grammatical and pragmatic phenomena.
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