Robin Lakoff (1975) - English language- language and gender

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These are ideas coming from the female language theorist are based on the principle that females' speech is more tentative and is a deficit variety of males'. (where the male is seen as the norm and the woman seen as a less valid alternative or extra) or that males' speech is more dominant.

the following cards show features that women's langauge is more likely to feature  

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hedging or qualifying

Females are more likely to use hedging or qualifying expressions such as

·         I think that

·         sort of

·         possibly

·         maybe

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modal verbs

females are more likely to use verbs which express uncertainty such as epistemic modal verbs such as would, could, might and may and deontic modals such as should which don’t have as much impact as must.

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polite forms

Females are more likely to use polite forms of expression such as using interrogatives or declaratives instead of imperatives. For example ‘would you mind if we closed the window?’ or saying ‘it’s a bit cold in here’ to subtly hint that they want the window to be closed.

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women are thought to apologise more for example saying things such as 'I'm sorry but..' etc

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empty adjectives

Women are more likely to use bland, imprecise adjectives such as nice and lovely which avoid expressing a specific opinion.

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Women tend to use more euphemisms such as ‘passed away’ to avoid offending people whereas men are happier to use demotic language (swear words) or refer to gross physical functions.

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