Language and Gender

Just revision cards from notes I've made in lesson about Language and Gender.

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  • Created by: Maddy
  • Created on: 31-12-12 13:26

Lexical Asymmetry

Male words and their female equivalents are often unequal (asymmetrical) with regards to their connotations.

E.g. Spinster/ bachelor denotes an unmarried woman/man, but the connotations of the words are very different.

Women when they get married have to change their name but no the man. The women have to announce their marital status with Mrs/Miss/Ms but men only use Mr.

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Marked and unmarked terms

Terms for females are often marked by the addition of  a suffix to the male term, which is unmarked: 





Some argue that this suggests male roles are more important because the standard, unmarked term is used to refer to them.

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Insulting images

There are many negative words for females, often with no equivalents for males. 

Often these words compare to animals, e.g. cow, *****, dog and many have seuxal connotations: 

e.g. ****, ****, whore.

Wordsdenoting sexual promiscuity is males tends to be more positive:

e.g. stud, jack-the-lad, Cassanova

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Patronising usages


Patronising terms for women include babe, dear, love and sweetheart, thought these can also be applied to men.

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The Sapir- Whorf thesis:

Language keeps women down.

" We are not simply passice recorders of what we find around us in language; rather we impose our ideas on our environment as a result of the language we have"

E.g. Doctor- typically man  and nurse- woman

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Robin Lakoff

Robin Lakoff

Deficit model supporter.

She suggest that women's language has something missing and that it is not as strong and powerful as men's.

She was concerned that women were socialised into sounding like 'ladies' which in turn has kept them in their place as being ladylike- stops them being 'powerful'.

Women are 'trained' to sound inferior. Need to change speech to gain power; need to be more assertive.

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Robin Lakoff continued.

Women's speech stereotypically includes:

* Hedges

* Politness strategies

* Empty adjectives

* Indirect requests

Correct grammar/standard English

Avoid expletives/taboo

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Dominance theory

This approach argues that because women occupy a less powerful position in society than men, their conversation is less assertive and less confident. Beacause women are used to this conditioning they are more polite in conversation consequently, men dominate mixed-sex conversations.

Dominance theorists:

* Zimmerman & West

* Fishman

* O'Bar & Atkins

* Trudgill

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Difference Model

Tannen - Men and women's language is different.

Men- concerned with status, independence.- Interrupt. Direct orders-don't mind conflict. Interested in facts and information and solutions

Women- want to form bonds with others. Talk less and agree more than men Polite indirect orders e.g. would you mind... - avoid conflict. Women aim to show understanding by compromising ad offering support rather than solutions.

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Women talk about feelings

Men- things.

Women talk about personal experience i.e. relationships and problems- Abstract

Men- facts, onjects, sport, cars- Concrete

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