English Language AS: Part 2 - Gender


As Level English Language Revision Document, AQA – Paper 2 Revision: Gender


Key terms • Approaches • 5 Theories • Gender in fiction •

Key terms:

Amelioration: a word that takes on more positive connotations in society; regardless of meaning

Pejoration: a word that takes on more negative connotations in society; regardless of meaning

Marked terms: terms that are used to describe a job role which convey differences in gender

Lexical asymmetry: words with parallel denotation but different connotation

Patronising usage: terms associating one gender with inferior superiority masked by apparent kindness

Derogatory usage: terms that lessen the reputation of one gender, this is primarily demonstrated by degradation of women to animals

Generic man – terms that refer to everyone but only males are explicitly mentioned

Order of precedence – terms for one gender preceding those of another gender


Deficit approach: this approach looks at the lack of power in language. By most gender theorists women suffer from a deficit whilst men do not.

Lakoff agreed with this as she believed women lacked power and assertiveness which was demonstrated in their lack of powerful language.

O’barr and Atkins identified powerless language traits that are central to the deficit approach. These are the traits that were first hypothesised by Lakoff and assumed to be utilised by females.

Traits of powerless language:

  • Hedges

  • Filler

  • Polite forms

  • Emphasis

  • Empty adjectives

  • Direct quotations

  • More intensifiers

  • Tag questions

  • Use of modals

  • Speak less

Dominance approach: ways in which the gender of a person influences their interactions in mixed sex conversations by being controlling. This is shown by interruptions as a speaker will choose to interrupt either to show agreement or to hi-jack the conversation – in the dominance approach interruptions are to hi-jack or make their own point. It is assumed that men have more power in conversation and have dominance.

Difference approach: men and women speak for different reasons. There are a list of opposing drives in a conversation, women are hypothesised to speak for a half the list and men supposedly speak for the opposing reasons as found by Tannen.









5 theories

  1. Trudgill

Hypothesis: Women’s pronunciation is closer to received pronunciation as it is more prestigious as women strive for prestige.

He speculated women


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