English language theorists

I have written out all of the theorists you may want to know about.

Hope this is helpful :)

  • Created by: Georgia
  • Created on: 05-03-13 16:10

Kuiper and Pilkington


  • Difference theory
  • Men pay less attention to the need to save face. Instead they use insults to express solidarity


  • In all female talk, women aim for positive politeness strategies whereas male talk tends to be less complimentary and supportive
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Zimmerman and West and Coates

Zimmerman and West

  • Dominance theory
  • Data showed 96% of all interruptions were made by men
  • They concluded that women had restricted linguistic freedom and men impose their dominant status
  • Summary - interprets difference in speech in terms of men's dominance and women's subordination


  • Difference theory
  • All female talk is cooperative so speakers support each other and help negotiate discussion
  • All male talk is competitive so use more non-standard forms to discreetly earn status and look `cool`: covert prestige
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  • Dominance/deficit theory
  • Claimed that women's language lacks authority when compared to men's
  • Proposed set of features that characterised women's language as deficient:
    • Empty adjectives, weak expletives, specialist lexis, super polite forms, indirect requests, apologise more, hyper correct grammar, politeness principle e.g. compliments, hedging, tag questions
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  • Difference theory
  • Women:
    • Like to be supported
    • Seek comfort and sympathy
    • Build relationships
    • Use politeness strategies to make proposals
    • Compromise to prevent conflict
  • Men:
    • See conversation as competition to gain status
    • Seek advice and solutions
    • Communicate information
    • Use direct imperatives
    • Prepared to argue preferences
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Wareing and Fairclough


  • Political power
  • Those with power of law, Held by politicians, police, law courts etc.
  • Perosnal power
  • Held as a result of occupation or role
  • Social group power
  • Held as a resul of being part of a dominant social group


  • Instrumental power
  • Power used to maintain or enforce authority
  • Influential power
  • Power used to influence or persuade others
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