Language and Gender Theorists

English language theorists and their theories on how gender affects the use of language

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 13-03-12 14:59

Robin LAKOFF

She said that womens langauge lacked authority and believed socialisation played an impotant role. Features that characterised womens language as deficient: DEFICIT THEORY

  • Hedges - 'sort of', 'kind of', 'it seems like'
  • Empty Adjectives - 'divine', 'gorgeous', 'adorable'
  • Tag Questions - 'you know?', 'do you?', 'yeah?'
  • (Super)-Polite Forms - 'would you mind?', 'If you don't mind'
  • Hypercorrect Grammar and Pronunciation - good grammar and clear enunciation
  • Special Lexicon - Women have more words for colours etc. 'scarlet'
  • Speak Less and apologise more + use more Intensifiers - 'so', 'very'
  • Overuse qualifiers - 'I think that'
  • Modal Constructors - 'could', 'should', 'can', 'ought', 'would'
  • Avoid Coarse Langauge and Expletives - avoid rude words or words that contribute nothing to the meaning.
  • Indirect requests - 'it's cold in here isn't it?'
  • Lack a sense of humor - Do not tell jokes or understand the punchlines
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Deborah TANNEN

She represents male and female language in 6 different contrasts:

DIFFERENCE THEORY

  • Status vs. Support - male conversation is competitive and want to dominate the conversation. For women talking is a way to gain confirmation and support for their ideas
  • Indepedancy vs. Intimacy - Women think in terms of closeness and support and preserve intimacy. Men (want status) focus of independancy.
  • Advice vs. Understanding - to men a complaint is a challenge to find a soltion. They think of what they can do rather than offering an emotional response.
  • Information vs. Feelings - Men are concerned with exchanging facts and informatin, whereas women want to share feelings and elaborate.
  • Order vs. Proposals - women use indirect requests ('lets', shall we?', 'why don't we?') and men use direct imperatives
  • Conflict vs. Compromise - Men voice their concerns and objections, but women accept or try to compromise it.
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Peter TRUDGILL

Gender, social class and speech sounds.

Research in Norwich looking a male and female pronounciation of suffixing.

1974

Male Speech - use more non-standard English. Men want covert prestige.

Female Speech - Use more standard English, but thought they used more non-standard than they thought. Women want overt prestige.

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Jenny CHESIRE

1982

Research in Reading looking at the language of teenagers.

Found boys use more non-standard English than girls because thay are part of 'denser networks'.

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HOLMES

1992

DEFICIT THEORY

Tag questions in women's language function as politness device to help maintain the discussion.

Suggested women in same-sex groups used more compiments and hedges to gain support.

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ZIMMERMAN and WEST

1975

DOMINANCE THEORY

In their research they found that 96% of all interruptions were made by men.

Concluded that women had restricted linguistic freedom and men want to dominate the conversation and assert power.

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COATES

1989

DIFFERENCE THEORY

All female talk is cooperative. Speakers negotiate and support each other.

Cooperative talk and these patterns are not found in mix-sex conversations.

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DEFICIT Thoery

Women's language is seen as deficit compared to mens and the 'male norm'

Male Norm - Deborah Tannen's theory of language is more male dominated: 'mankind', 'man'

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DIFFERENCE Theory

Idea that the difference between male and female language is because they belong to different socialisations.

Credited for looking at the positive features of female language and not blaming men for their want for dominance.

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DOMINANCE Theory

The way men want to control and dominate conversations.

Especially dominating in mix-sex conversations

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Comments

Lauren Clayton

These notes are very useful Thank you! <3 I missed these lessons, and these are really helping me understand what I missed :)

Grace Hannaford

Really useful notes my teacher just printed out pages of boring power points on the theorists without actually explaining them. Found these very easy to understand and help me catch up thank-you!

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