Gender Theorists - Deficit

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  • Created by: indiaskye
  • Created on: 17-04-16 16:20

Robin Lakfoff

  • 1973
  • Women are less than men
  • The male way of speaking is the normative, and the female dpearts from the norm
  • Women's language acted to mainatin their subordinate status in society
  • Claimed that many women's language features suggest low confidence
  • Features = emphatic stress, hedges, hypercorrect grammar, precise colour terms, rising intanations, super polite forms, tag questions, intensifier 'so'
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  • 1922
  • Male language is the normative
  • The language of others (females) is considered extra to the norm and also deficit
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Janet Holmes

  • 1992
  • Tag questions are not a sign of uncertainty, but a sign of politeness
  • Help keep the conversation going
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  • 1991
  • Sees feminine styles of speech as a mechanism of social control
  • Women try to be 'nice' and 'ladylike' and carefully monitor their behaviour to ensure it is appropriate
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Trends of male language

  • interrupt more
  • more expletives 
  • better sense of humour
  • tell more jokes
  • simplified vocab
  • more direct approach
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  • dialect that is generally one that is widely recognised as being used by a dominant group


  • percieved as inferior by dominant group, shows membership in an exclusive community
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Influencing factors

  • social status
  • overt / covert prestige
  • society's idea of a woman's language
  • dominant role of child reering 
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