Language and Gender- Theorists

  • Created by: kedeidra
  • Created on: 01-04-15 16:43

1962- Mira Komarosky


  • Men speak more about physical matters e.g sport, money and work
  • Women speak more about emotional matters e.g family
1 of 7

1974- Peter Trudghill


  • Women of each class use prestige variant more than men of the same class
  • Using non standard variable is not just a working-class thing, its also a male thing
  • Women tend to be less secure than men in terms of social status therefore they use more prestigious language to overcome their inferior position
  • Men already have high status and therefore convert and use non standard language to seem tough, rebellious and down to Earth
  • Women overt- acceptable to wider mainstrean society
  • Men covert- gain approval of the minority group
2 of 7

1974- Robin Lakoff

1) Women's words

-relate to womens specific interests e.g sewing terms and fine colour words such as lavender

adjectives- either neutral or woman only e.g: neutral= great, cool  e.g: woman only= sweet lovely

weak expletives instead of shear words e.g 'oh dear' instead of '****'

intensifiers- 'I like him so much'         

2) Women's grammar

  • tag questions- 'its hot in here isnt it?'-> inforces uncertainty
  • hedges- 'kind of', 'sort of'
  • hypercorrect grammar- comply with grammatical rules e.g by avoiding double negatives such as 'i didnt have none'

3) Innotation

  • rise of innotation (Q: when shall we eat?...A: oh, in about half an hour. (this implies weakness and uncertainty)
  • speaking in italics- use exaggerated innotation and stress for emphasis 'i really wish you wouldnt do that'
3 of 7

1975- Zimmerman and West

Male interruptions and overlaps

  • Both genders rarely interrupt or overlap their conversational parteners in single gender pairs
  • Men overlap and interrupt more when talking to women
  • Women tend to speak less than men in mixed-gender conversations as they keep getting interrupted so they tend to keep falling silent
  • A single gender conversation has shorter amount of silence than mixed-gender conversation
4 of 7

1989- Jennifer Coates

Female cooperation

  • Talk is central to womens friendship

- use minimal responses such as 'uh huh' to show they are listening and encourage the speaker to go on

- may complete the speakers utterance with or for them

  • Womens talk is a great skill- monitoring each other carefully
5 of 7

1990- Deborah Tannen

Differences are culture, not gender


  • Are concerned with status and independance e.g they inturrupt each other alot
  • Give direct orders e.g 'pass me that' and dont mind conflict
  • Interested in gaining factual information and finding solutions to problems


  • Interested in forming bonds- tent to talk less and agree more with men
  • Give polite 'indirect orders' e.g 'would you mind passing that?' and try to avoid conflict
  • Aim to show understanding by compromising and offering support rather than solutions.
6 of 7

1992- Janet Holmes

Tag questions arent just about uncertainty

  • modal tags- seek information
  • affective tags- softening/concern
  • facilitative tags- drawing listener in

61% of  modal tags are used by men, 75% facilitative tags are used by women

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Language resources:

See all English Language resources »See all Language and gender resources »