Language Variation- Language and Gender theorists

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  • Created on: 25-04-14 14:22
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Language Variation Theorists
Deficit Model-Men's language is the standard and women's is deficient
Robin Lakoff (1975)
Characteristics of Women's Language:
Hedges/Fillers- using phrases like `sort of', `kind of' etc.
Superpolite forms ­ `would you mind?', `I'd appreciate it if...', basically being very polite
Tag Questions (explained by the research of Janet Holmes below)
Using empty/affective adjectives ­ `divine', `lovely', `adorable' etc.
Hypercorrect Grammar ­ Prestige use of grammar
Vocabulary of Women's Work
Precise colour terms ­ `burgundy', `chartreuse' etc.
Avoid course language or expletives
Use of intensifiers ­ `so', `very'
Lack a sense of humour
Rising intonation
Women's language reflects their inferior social status. Women tend to speak less than men.
Women's language is weak compared to men's; this prevents them from being taken seriously.
Janet Holmes (1980's) - built on Lakoff
Defined different tag questions
Referential- Signal factual uncertainty or lack of information
o `It's on Channel 4, isn't it?'
o `We're leaving now, aren't we?'
Affective (Facilitative) ­ Expressing solidarity or intimacy
o `We've never liked musicals, have we?'
Affective (softening) ­ Weakening the tone of a command or criticism
o `Pass me the hairbrush, would you?'
o `You're not leaving your hair like that, are you?'

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O'Barr and Atkins (1982)
Data taken from transcripts at an American Court room
Language Change was more important within the situation, rather than gender alone
Emphasis on social standing rather than gender
Male and Female witnesses who were of low social status and/or inexperienced with the
courtroom practises both showed many of the linguistic features that Lakoff labelled as
Dominance Model- Sees women as `an oppressed group, interpreting
differences in men's' dominance and women's' subordination
Pamela Fishman (1970's-1990's)- agreed with Lakoff ­ `Division of…read more

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Beattie (1982) ­ study similar to Zimmerman and West's but records 10 hours of data. Men
and women interrupted with roughly equal frequency. Argued that interruption can be
Difference Model - Men and women are inherently different, but one is
not subordinate to the other
Deborah Tannen (1990)
There are separate linguistics characteristics between men and women which are reinforced from
Status vs.…read more

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Sympathy Problem Solving
Rapport Report
Listening Lecturing
Private Public
Connection Status
Supportive Oppositional
Intimacy Independence
Interuptions and overlapping
o Tannen argues that there is a difference between interruptions and overlapping.
Interruption isn't simply making a sound as another speaks ­ they may be
supportive and affirming, which Tannen calls co-operative overlap.…read more


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