Language and Gender

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Robin Lakoff

Features of female language:

  • Hedge
  • Super polite forms
  • Empty adjectives
  • Specialist lexicon
  • Overuse qualifiers (I think that)
  • Apologise more
  • Intensifiers
  • Lack of a sense of humour
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Zimmerman and West

In mixed sex conversations men are more likely to interrupt that women.

This study had a small sample size and has since been disproved.

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He disproved Zimmerman and West's study, by finding that women and men interrupted with more or less equal frequency.

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Deborah Tannen

Men vs. Women

  • Status vs. Support
  • Independence vs. Intimacy
  • Advice vs. Understanding
  • Information vs. Feelings
  • Orders vs. Proposals
  • Conflict vs. Compromise
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Peter Trudgill

Men were less likely and women were more likely to use the prestige pronunciation of certain speech sounds.

Men would often seek covert prestige to seem 'tough' or 'down to earth'.

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Jennifer Coates

All-women conversations

  • House talk - the exchange of information
  • Scandal - judging the behaviours of others (other women in particular)
  • Bitching - expression of a woman's anger, only expressed in private. They do not expect change, just that their anger will be understood and expected
  • Chatting - the most intimate form of gossip, a mutual self-disclosure.They use their skills they have learnt when nurturing others
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Deborah Cameron

Women have been instructed in the proper ways of talking, just as they have in other 'feminine' kinds of behaviour. This is described as 'verbal hygiene'.

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Dominance approach

Women are a repressed group and language differences are a reflection of men's dominance and women's subordination (lower in status) in society.

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Difference approach

Women and men belong to different sub-cultures and the language differences are an expression of each group's different life experiences.

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