Language and Gender

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  • Created by: Ash
  • Created on: 31-12-12 17:02

Language and Gender Theories

Robin Lakoff - Womens use of language

  • Hedging: phrases like "sort of", "kind of" and "it seems like" were more frequent in feminine speech
  • Polite Forms: "Would you mind" , "I'd appreciate it if", "...If you don't mind" 
  • Tag Questions: "Your going to dinner, aren't you?"
  • Empty Adjectives: divine, lovely, adorable, - are example of this
  • Use Wh- imperative: "Why don't you go and play?"
  • Speak less frequently 
  • Overuse Qualifiers: "I think that..."
  • Use modal constructions: can, would, should and ought - "Should we turn on the turn down the volume?"
  • Insifiers: Especially, So and Very. "I am SO glad you came"

Zimmerman and West: Dominance Theory (1975)

  • The theory that in mixed-sex conversations men are more likely to interrupt women.
  • Zimmer and West came to the conclusion that because men interrupt women more often, then they are dominating or attempting to do so


  • Beattie questioned the research and analysis of Zimmerman and West asking why the interruptions necessarily showed dominance.]
  • Beattie asked can they not arise from other sources? Citing that some interruptions may suggest involvement or a genuine interest in the subject matter.

Deborah Tannen (Status V Support) or (Difference Theory)

  • Men grow up in a world where conversation is competitive, and thus seek…




Hi sorry, I don't understand what you mean by "empty adjectives".How'd you classify these? 

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