Language & Gender ~ Thoeries

Theorists and their theories

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Sarah Mills

(examples in bold)

  • Examined lexical pairs and noted how male terms had possitive attributes
    • Lord + Lady
  • Many female equivalents are marked as indicative of sexual promiscuity
    • Stud vs Tart
  • Semantic deterioration
    • Lady >> cleaning lady, dinner lady
    • Queen >> drama queen
    • Lord remains the same
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Julia Stanley (1973)

  • Marked inequality for words
    • mistress vs master
    • spinster vs bachelor
  • More sexually promiscuous words used for women
    • b*tch
    • sl*t
    • sl*g
    • wh*re
  • Women occupy negative semantic space due to marked terms
    • spinster
    • mistress
    • ms
    • lady
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Janet Holmes (1992)

  • Animal imagery used to describe men suggests they're strong & brave, women = sweet or sexual or bad
    • honey
    • sugar
    • cupcake
  • Examined use of tag questions
    • They may not necessarily be a sign of uncertainty
    • In some cases tag questions can be a way of maintaning discussion or being polite
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Peter Trudgill (1974)

  • Focused on phonological and grammatical variation
    • Men use more non - standard pronunciation and attached a form of high status to non - standard forms 
    • 'Covert Prestige'
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Jenny Cheshire (1974)

  • Focused on phonological and grammatical variation
    • similar findings to Trudgill Chesire explained these due to male show of linguistic and social solidarity
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Jennifer Coates (1989) - all female conversation

  • Examined epistemic model forms such as 'perhaps', 'sort of', 'probably'
    • Women seemed to use these forms to avoid face threatening acts when talkingto other females
    • Seen as sign of female cooperation and speaker support
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William O. Barr and Bowman Atkins

  • Linguistic study of language used in a courtroom
    • Men from lower class backgrounds used similar features to those identified by LAKOOF
    • Features of uncertain speech mere more dependent on power relations than gender.
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Dominance Approach

Zimmerman & West (1975)

96% of interruptions in mixed sex conversations made by men  

  • women = restricted linguistic freedom
  • men = impose dominant status through applying explicit contraints in conversations

women ≠ men ~ conversational rights

Parents -> interrupted & assumed power in interactions in same way men do in mixed talk


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Difference Approach

  • idea men + women have different ways of talking in single sex conversations
  • men & women -> 
    • different sub-cultures & different attitudes to types of talk =
      • cultural differences & pressures 
  • Strengths =
    • focus of linguisitic achievements of women
    • little focus on dominance of men

 

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Difference Approach (Part II)

Jennifer Coates (1989)

  • All female talk is cooperative
    • speakers help negotiate discussions and support each other

Jane Pilkington (1992)

  • all - female talk more cooperative than male talk
    • women aimed for more positive politeness stategies
    • whereas men were less complimentary and supportive in all- male talk
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Difference Approach (Part III)

Koenraad Kuiper (1991)

  • Men in all-male talk (members of a rugby team
    • pay less attention to saving face
    • use insults as way of expressing solidarity

Deborah Tannen (1990)

  • Used Difference Approach to examine mixed-sex talk
    • outlined six main differences between male and female talk
      • male / female
      • status / support
      • idenpendence / intimacy
      • adive / understanding
      • information / feelings
      • orders / proposals
      • conflict / compromise
    • see http://www.universalteacher.org.uk/lang/gender.htm#tannen/
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