Language and Gender

Theorists include: Robin Lakoff, Zimmerman and West, Beattie, Pamela fisherman, Deborah Tannen, Peter Trudgill, Jennifer Coates and Deborah Cameron.

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  • Created by: george
  • Created on: 21-03-13 13:11

Robin Lakoff

Developed theories about gender specific linguistics applying to women. found that

  • Women use hypercorrect/super polite forms and grammer - Apologising - Hedging etc.
  • Use empty adjectives (Beautiful, lovely, nice)
  • Use tag questions.
  • use more intensifiers
  • tend to use intonational emphasis "soooooooo"
  • overused qualifiers
  • tend to lack a sense of humour
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Zimmerman and West/Beattie

Z&W Reported that in mixed sex conversations MEN ARE MORE LIKELY TO INTERRUPT THAN WOMEN. This could be interpreted as a way of males asserting dominance.

However Geoffrey Beattie reported that men and women interrupt eachother with more or less equal frequency. and that interruptions do not necessarily reflect dominance.

For example, interruptions can take the form of feedback which is a politeness strategy.

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Pamela Fishman

Argued that Conversation between men and women sometimes fails because of the way men respond or ultimately dont respond.

For example, Men tend to use minimalistic replies when asked questions by women.

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Deborah Tannen

Theorised that male and female language use is made up of six contrasts

Status / Support

Independance / Intimacy

Advice / Understanding

Information / Feelings

Orders / Proposals

Conflict / Compromise

In each of these contrasts, the male trait (the one judged to be more characteristically male) comes first

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Peter Trudgill

Trudgill made a detailed study in which subjects were grouped by social class and sex. He invited them to speak in a variety of situations, before asking them to read a passage that contained words where the speaker might use one or other of two speech sounds. An example would be verbs ending in -ing, where Trudgill wanted to see whether the speaker dropped the final g and pronounced this as -in'

Trudgill found that men were less likely and women more likely to use the prestige pronunciation of certain speech sounds. In aiming for higher prestige (above that of their observed social class) the women tended towards hypercorrectness. The men would often use a low prestige pronunciation - thereby seeking covert (hidden) prestige by appearing “tough” or “down to earth”.

  • Overt prestige is often percieved as hypercorrect grammar
  • Covert prestige is less correct, for example using "-in" as a suffix as opposed to "-ing
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Jennifer Coates

Jennifer Coates categorised the key aspects of womens talk into 4 categories.

  • House Talk - its distinguishing function is the exchange of information and resources connected with the female role as an occupation.
  • Scandal - a considered judging of the behaviour of others, and women in particular. It is usually made in terms of the domestic morality, of which women have been appointed guardians.
  • Bitching - this is the overt expression of women’s anger at their restricted role and inferior status. They express this in private and to other women only. The women who ***** are not expecting change; they want only to make their complaints in an environment where their anger will be understood and expected.
  • Chatting - this is the most intimate form of gossip, a mutual self-disclosure, a transaction where women use to their own advantage the skills they have learned as part of their job of nurturing others.
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