Language and gender

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  • Created by: Corinnaxo
  • Created on: 05-04-14 20:10


Sex: Biological differences between males and females Gender: Behavioural characteristics that are a result of social/cultural influences Socialisation process: A process by which an individual's behaviour are conditioned and shaped- this determines our masculine and feminine behaviour e.g. children's adverts, how some toys are advertised for boys and how some are advertised for girls- how are adverrts convincing graphologically, lexically and gramatically? The 3 type of processes (material, relational and mental) highlights how actions in a text are represented. It identifies those responsible and those affected by the actions A character whose behaviour is mostly represented through material processes as an actor may have more power than those who use relational/mental processes Those who are affected by verb processes (they act as objects rather than subjects) are less powerful In terms of gender, in most cases, the males are the actors and the females are the ones being affected  

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Marked expressions

A sexist language? Lexical items used to describe females are often marked compared to those used to describe males The act of marking suggests deviation from a norm (unmarked item) Covert marking- marking that is understood e.g. antonyms: young and old. It is more common to ask, "how old are you?" rather than "how young are you?" In some contexts there is a shift in markedness e.g. hot and cold markedness depends very much on context Overt marking- marking that takes place through affixation or modification Affixation- adding the suffix -ess e.g. "mistress" "actress" "lioness" Modification- e.g. female doctor, male prostitute, career woman Generic terms The use of masculine pronouns e.g. him/he/his as generic pronouns (when the gender is unspecified) is generally no longer acceptable because this is an example of exclusive language. However, replacing exclusive terms with inclusive language is not as straightforward as it appears

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Involves assigning a general set of characteristics to a group as a whole This often has negative connotations and can lead to prejudice It can lead us to believe that certain roles are normal and that group members should carry out these roles and behavioural expectations

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Semantic derogation

Definition of semantic derogation- the negative connotations that some items have attached to them Some terms in English are reserved for use when referring to women- these have strong negative connotations attached to them when compared to the corrseponding term used to refer to men e.g. master and mistress- Mills points out that the female equivalents are marked as indicative of sexual promiscuity Semantic deterioration- The process by which negative connotations become attached to lexical items e.g. lady can be used in "dinner lady" and "cleaning lady" whereas "cleaning lord" sounds very unusual

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Definition: Attitudes and assumptions about language that have no real evidence to support them e.g. the attitude that presumes women are generally more chatty or prone to gossip than men Assumptions about female language has been made- many of these reinforce stereotypes about female speech as deviant and subordinate to a male norm 

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Trudgill and Chesire's work

Trudgill Involved studying how males and females pronounced the suffix -ing e.g. laughing and walking Across social classes, men tended to use more non-standard pronounciation Through self evaluation tests, he found that men tended to mark themselves as using non standard forms even when they did not, however, this was opposite in women In conclusion, men attach a more covert prestige to non standard forms Covert prestige: A form of high status giving to non standard forms Cheshire Supports Trudgill's work- boys used more non standard forms than girls This is because of the different networks boys and girls are part of- boys had much denser networks where their language showed their linguistic and social unity

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