The Deficit Approach, Robin Lakoff
In 1975 Robin Lakoff identified a ‘women's register’ which she argued served to maintain women's inferior role in society. Lakoff argued that women tend to use language that reflects and reinforces a lesser role. These include tag questions, weak directives and intensifiers among others.
Studies like Lakoff's have been labelled the ‘deficit approach’ since they suggest that one gender is deficient in terms of the other.
‘Deficit’ is an approach created by Jespersen (1922) that defines male language as the standard, and women's language as deficient. This approach created a dichotomy between women's language and men's language. This triggered criticism to the approach in that highlighting issues in women's language by using men's as the standard. Due to this, women's language was considered to have something 'wrong' with it.