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Men and women use
language differently...
Studies have shown that women tend to
use accents from a higher social class than
Trudgill (1983) studied men and women's
social class accents and found their
pronunciation was closer to received
pronunciation (RP) the accent that is
usually seen as the most prestigious
Cheshire (1982) studied the speech of
adolescent boys and girls and found boys
tended to use more non-standard
grammatical terms, e.g. "aint" rather than
girls…read more

Slide 3

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Using standard English and RP
gives a person overt prestige ­
the prestige of being associated
with a respectable well of
section of society. Women tend
to seek overt prestige more than
Using non-standard English
gives a person covert prestige ­
they seem a bit rebellious and
independent. Men are more
likely than women to seek this.…read more

Slide 4

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Women may use more prestigious
forms for several reasons...
1. Women may feel less secure than men in terms of
their social status. If they feel that they have an
inferior position in society, then they might use more
prestigious language to overcome it.
2. Society generally expects higher standards of
behaviour from women ­ they're expected to
behave like "ladies" and use "ladylike" language.
This includes not swearing or arguing.
3. Men already have a higher social status than
women so they don't need to use prestugious forms
to improve it. Instead, they seek covert prestige by
using non-standard language that seems tough and
4. Non-standard language is traditionally associated
with working class men, so men might use it to
show that they share traditionally masculine
qualities, like being "tough" and "down to earth".…read more

Slide 5

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Women's language is usually
more polite than men's...
The researcher Robin Lakoff
(1975) identified features that
she felt were characteristic of
women's language:
Hedges and fillers ­ fragments of language
like sort of, kind of, maybe.
Apologetic requests - E.g. "I'm sorry, but
would you mind closing the door?"
Tag questions ­ E.g. "this is nice, isn't is?"
Indirect questions ­ E.g. "it's very noisy out
there" (meaning "could you please shut the
door"…read more

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Lakoff said that women
actually tend to speak less
than men, use fewer
expletives (swear less), and
use more intensifiers
(words like so and very)
She argued these features of
women's language reflected their
inferior social status and made
it worse by making them seem
indecisive and needy. She said
O'Barr and Atkins (1980) women's language is weak
suggested an alternative compared to men's and this
explanation. They analysed prevents women from being
American courtroom taken seriously deficit model.
trials and male and female
witnesses who were of low
social status/inexperienced
with the courtroom process
showed these "female"
features.…read more

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