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Difference and West- Lakoff-
Model Dominance Deficit
Model Model
Language and
How women How men and
and men are Sexist
Language women use
represented language…read more

Slide 2

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Deficit Model
Devised by Robin Lakoff in 1975 stating women's language is seen as
deficit in some way to the established male norm. Looks at
characteristics such as:
- Indirect Requests (e.g. `It's very noisy out there' ­ meaning can you
shut the door?
- Weak Expletive terms (e.g. `oh dear'- politeness strategy
- Empty adjectives (e.g. `lovely' and `nice'- have no force behind them,
weak adjectives.
- Tag Questions (e.g. `isn't it?'- attached to the end of a declarative,
shows uncertainty and provokes conversation.
- Intensifiers (e.g. `so')
- Ultra politeness (e.g. euphemisms, over apologetic)
Differences in male/female talk are socially constructed so female's
language remains less assertive, more polite etc.
These features reflect women's inferior social status and made women
come across as indecisive and needy. Women's language is weak
compared to men and prevents women from being taken seriously!…read more

Slide 3

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Dominance Model
Constructed by Zimmerman and West (1975) states males interrupt
96% of mixed sex conversation. This led to the idea that males are
more dominant in male/female talk. These observations led to the
overall conclusion that male's were the more dominant sex in
Women had restricted linguistic freedom than men and that men
sought to impose their dominant status though applying constraints
in conversation. Therefore, women and men don't hold equal
conversational rights.…read more

Slide 4

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Difference Model
Devised by Tannen (1990) described male and female conversational
style in terms of difference.
Men- concerned with status and independence e.g. they interrupt a lot.
- give direct orders, e.g. pass me that, and don't mind conflict.
- interested in gaining factual information and finding solutions to
Female- interested in forming bonds- tend to talk less and agree more
- give polite indirect orders, e.g. would you mind passing me that,
and try to avoid conflict.
- women aim to show understanding by compromise and offering
support rather than solutions
Reasons for difference in male and female interaction are often to do
with subject of single sex conversation. Male conversation is typically
to do with factual information e.g. sport whereas female talk is often
centred around family and is compassionate and emotional.…read more

Slide 5

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How Women/Men are
There is more sexist language about women than men. Some language
implies that the male version is the norm and female version is
Marked Terms: reveal a person's gender e.g. `policeman' therefore
unmarked terms do not reveal gender e.g. `police officer'
- some words are marked by a feminising suffix e.g. `actress'
implies male version is the norm and is superior.
Generic Terms: marked term is used to refer to both men and
women- almost always masculine terms used to mean people in general
e.g. `man'- the verb to `man the desk' or the noun `mankind'.
-Can make females invisible by ignoring them- women occupying
negative semantic space.
Lexical Asymmetry- pairs of words with similar meaning but aren't
equally balanced.
- e.g. `spinster' has negative connotations- woman has been unable
to find partner whereas `bachelor' implies carefree- positive.…read more

Slide 6

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Patronising terms: imply superiority over the person they are talking
-Terms that imply someone is younger than the speaker can be
patronising e.g. Young lady.
- Terms of endearment can be patronising e.g. Love, sweetheart.
- Depends on context e.g. Male employee calls female employee love-
patronising whereas boyfriend calling girlfriend love-. not patronising
Grammar can be sexist: the idea that the male is the norm is also
apparent in English grammar.
- Pronouns: 3rd person masculine pronouns (e.g. He, his) often refers
to both men and women e.g. An employee who is absent for more than 3
weeks should get a note from his doctor.
- Order of Preference: one gender specific word is always placed
before another- e.g. Mr and Mrs, Men and Women male term 1st.
More insults for Women: known as over representation. Some words
label women as animals (e.g. Bitch ) or promiscuous, (e.g. slut ).
- There are hardly any equivalents for men, some terms like `stud'
have positive connotations and some like `man whore' are comedic. This
implies the female is the norm. Lack of equivalent for something is
called a Lexical Gap.…read more

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