English Language and Gender

The basics of language and gender.

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  • Created by: Shauni
  • Created on: 07-05-12 15:00


biological differences between males and females.

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the differences in behaviour and roles that are a result of societal expectations.

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Socialisation Process:

a process by which individuals’ behaviours are conditioned and shaped.

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the individual or entity responsible for the action of a verb process.

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the person or entity affected by the material action process.

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Marked Form:

that which stands out as different from a norm.

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Unmarked Form:

the measured norm, against which marked lexical items can be compared.

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Covert Marking:

marking that is understood, for example in the antonyms young and old, young is the marked, old is the unmarked term.

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Overt Marking:

marking that takes place through affixation or modification.

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assigning a general set of characteristics to a group as a whole, often with negative connotations.

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Semantic Derogation:

the sense of negative meaning or connotation that some lexical items have attached to them.

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Semantic Deterioration:

the process by which negative connotations become attached to lexical items.

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attitudes and assumptions about language that have no real evidence to support them, for example in the assumption that women are generally more ‘chatty’ or prone to gossip more than men.

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Covert Prestige:

a form of high status given to non-standard forms.

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Tag Question:

a group of words that turn a declarative into an interrogative, for example ‘it’s cold’ becomes ‘it’s cold, isn’t it?.’

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Hedging Device:

a linguistic device used to express uncertainty.

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Boosting Device:

 a linguistic device used to intensify the force of an expression for added emphasis or power.

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Semantic Amelioration:

The process by which positive connotations become attatched to lexical items.

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Looked at male and female pronunciation of the suffix – ing.

Found that non-standard form occurred more in male speech.

Females thought they used non-standard more than they did.

Men attached a covert prestige to non-standard forms.

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Looked at language of teenagers.

Found that boys used more non-standard forms than girls.

Believed to be because boys were members of ‘denser networks’ and thus their language converged towards the vernacular to show social solidarity.

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Clamied that much of women's language lacked authority compared to men's, and proposed a set of featues that characterised women's language as deficient when compared to men's.

Women use hedges, politeness strategies, fillers and tag questions. (Holmes suggested this)

They use more precise colour terms and intensifiers.

 They have a rising intonation.

Believed Socialisation played an important role.

(Part of deficit approach)

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O'Barr and Atkins

Analysed language of the courtroom and agreed with Lakoff's findings but also found that men from lower class backgrounds used similar features of uncertain speech.

They Believed that uncertain speech patterns depend on power rather than gender and coined the term 'powerless language' rather than 'women's language'

(Part of deficit approach)

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Zimmerman and West

Found in their set of data that 96% of all interruptions were made by men. They concluded that women had restricted lingusitc freedom and men impose their dominant status.

(Part of dominance approach)

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All female talk is cooperative, speakers help to negotiate and support each other's rights. These patterns are not found in mixed sex talk.

Males tend to interrupt until the other participant backs down

(Part of difference approach)

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The Approaches

Deficit Approach

Women's language is seen as deficit when compared to the 'male norm'

Dominance Approach

Focused on the way men were seen as controlling and dominating in mixed-sex conversations

Difference Approach

Idea that variation in male and female language use can be linked to their belonging to different subcultures. Accredited for looking at positive features of female language while avoiding blaming men for their dominance.

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ben dibb-fuller


slide 1 of 24 is very clear

Robert Gammon


shauni you have already been mugged off :)

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