O'Barr and Atkins

Women's language or powerless language?

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'Women's Language or Powerless Language?' (1980)

  • O'Barr and Atkins studied language use in the courtroom to test that Lakoff's ideas fitted this specific context
  • The language use associated with women was exhibited by both genders whenever they were in a powerless situation in the courtroom
  • They renamed these features of language 'powerless language' and pointed to women speakers who did not fit Lakoff's claims
  • They were in powerful positions in the courtroom, being well-educated professionals who were accorded status in the courtroom
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