English Language Theories - Gender

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  • Created by: _Phoebo_
  • Created on: 06-06-16 14:32

Otto Jesperson (1922)


  • Use half-finished sentences because they don't think before they say things
  • Talk a lot
  • Women use empty adjectives too much (as well as determiners such as 'so' along side them)
  • Women use advebs and hyperbole
  • Write novels that are easier to read
  • They have a smaller vocabulary than men
  • Men are responsible for introducing new words to our language
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Robin Lackoff (1975)


  • Talk less frequently
  • Use minimal responses such as 'mm' and 'yeah'
  • Use a greater range of italics eg so, very, quite
  • Use hedging frequently
  • Tag questions
  • Use euphanisms and diminutives more than men do
  • Use 'wh-' imperitives
  • Use modal constructions
  • Avoid slang and swearing, and avoid making threats and agressive language
  • Lack a sense of humour
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Deborah Tannen (1990's)

  • Invented the 'difference model'
  • SIAIOC =
  • STATUS VS SUPPORT - men try to dominate in convosation
  • INDEPENDANCE VS INTIMACY - men focus on their independance, women think in terms of closness
  • ADVICE VS UNDERSTANDING - to men, a complint is a challenge to find a solution  
  • INFORMATION VS FEELINGS - men use information, women talk more of their feelings and not the actual situation
  • ORDERS VS PROPOSALS - men prefer to hear a direct imperitive in convosation, whereas women tend to 'hint' that they want something eg "why don't we ..."
  • CONFLICT VS COMPROMISE - women try to put off arguing when possible
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Jenifer Coates

  • Men often reject convosations started by women
  • Men talk about male things eg sport, buissness, politics etc
  • Women are more likley to start a convoosation than men, but these convosations are less likely to succeed
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Dale Spender

  • Proposed that language uses "male as norm"
  • Patriarchal society
  • "Pernicious" language
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Paul Baker (1950/60's)

  • Invented 'polari' (also known as lavender language)
  • This was a code for gay men to use secretly
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