Language And Gender Theories

Language and Gender theories.

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  • Created by: Kate
  • Created on: 21-05-13 14:31

Robin Lakoff- Women's attributes of speech

Robin Lakoff said that there are certain features of language that are more likely to be used by women.

These are:

  • Hedges: "sort of", "kind of".
  • Super polite forms: "would you mind if...?"
  • Use of interrogatives (questions) rather than imperatives (commands)
  • Empty adjectives: "lovely, adorable, nice".
  • Avoid coarse language and expletives
  • Apologise More: "I'm sorry but..."
  • Tag questions: "It's hot in here, isn't it?"
  • Indirect requests: "It's really cold in here!" (Implying, can a window be shut or the heating put on).
  • Speak less frequently
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Deborah Tannen- Difference Theory

Deborah Tannen- Explores the interaction of men and women as being different. Said that men and women see speech in different ways and use it for different reasons.

She came to 6 conclusions:

      Men                           Women

  • Status              vs      Support
  • Independence   vs       Intimacy
  • Advice              vs       Understanding
  • Information        vs       Feelings
  • Orders              vs       Proposals
  • Conflict             vs       Compromise
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Zimmerman and West- Dominance Theory

Zimmerman and West found that in 11 conversations:

  • Men interrupted 46 times.
  • Women interrupted 2 times.

Theory suggests that men are more likely to interrupt than women in a mixed sex conversation.

They also believed that men interrupted in order to dominate and have control over the conversation.

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William O'Barr and Bowman Atkins

They studied courtroom cases and witness speeches in 1980.

They found that language differences are based on situation- specific authority or power- not gender!

(Good for disproving other language theories!)

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