They were well-educated professionals with middle class backgrounds. A corresponding pattern was noted among the men who spoke with a low frequency of women's language traits. O'barr and Atkins tried to emphasize that a powerful position may derive from either social standing in the larger society and/or status accorded by the court. Back to top Any student or teacher can readily test lakoff's claim about qualifiers and intensifiers. For example, keep a running score (divided into male and female) of occasions when a student qualifies a question or request with just - can I just have some help with my homework? Can I just borrow your dictionary? Can I just take the day off school? Over about a year, keeping a (very unrepresentative) score of such comments occurring in language lessons, the uses by female students in my class outnumbered those by males (in the proportion of about 3 to 1).
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Their findings challenge lakoff's view of women's language. In researching what they describe as powerless language, they show that for language differences are based on situation-specific authority or power and alamo not gender. Of course, there may be social contexts where women are (for other reasons) more or less the same as those who lack power. But this is a far more limited claim than that made by dale Spender, who identifies power with a male patriarchal order - the theory of dominance. Back to top you can find more on the o'barr and Atkins research in Susan Githens' excellent report. Click on the link below to see this article. This short extract from Susan Githens' report summarizes the findings of o'barr and Atkins: o'barr and Atkins studied courtroom cases for 30 months, observing a broad spectrum of witnesses. They examined the witnesses for the ten basic speech differences between men and women that Robin lakoff proposed. O'barr and Atkins discovered that the differences that lakoff and others supported are not necessarily the result of being a woman, but of being powerless. O'barr and Atkins concluded from their study that the"d speech patterns were neither characteristic of all women nor limited only to women. The women who used the lowest frequency of women's language traits had an unusually high status (according to the researchers).
Use wh- imperatives: (such as, Why don't you open the door?) Speak less frequently overuse qualifiers: (for example, i think that.) Apologise more: (for instance, i'm sorry, but I think that.) Use modal constructions: (such as can, would, should, ought - should we turn. really a request to turn the heat on or close a window) Use more intensifiers: especially so and very (for instance, i am so glad you came!) Lack a sense of humour: women do not tell jokes well and often don't understand the punch. Back to top Some of these statements are more amenable to checking, by investigation and observation, than others. It is easy to count the frequency with which tag questions or modal verbs occur. But lakoff's remark about humour is much harder to quantify - some critics might reply that notions of humour differ between men and women. (For a contemporary view you could look at Janine liladhar's Jenny Eclair, The rotting Old Whore of Comedy: a feminist Discussion of the politics of Stand-Up Comedy at /wpw/femprac. Teachers should be warned that this article contains lots of profane and sexually-explicit language.) William o'barr and Bowman Atkins A 1980 study by william o'barr and Bowman Atkins looked at courtroom cases and witnesses' speech.
Use tag questions: you're going to dinner, aren't you? Speak in italics: intonational emphasis equal to underlining words - so, very, garden quite. Use empty adjectives: divine, lovely, adorable, and so on Use hypercorrect grammar and pronunciation: English prestige grammar and clear enunciation. Use direct"tion: men paraphrase more often. Have a special lexicon: women use more words for things like colours, men for sports. Use question intonation in declarative statements: women make declarative statements into questions by raising the pitch of their voice at the end of a statement, expressing uncertainty. For example, what school do you attend?
Your teacher could invite members of your class first to judge yourselves (as I have done above) against the relevant list, then against the list for the other sex. And finally you could attempt to judge others in the group (though you may not know all of them) or simply another male or female friend. Back to top Robin lakoff Robin lakoff, in 1975, published an influential account of women's language. This was the book language and Woman's Place. In a related article, woman's language, she published a set of basic assumptions about what marks out the language of women. Among these are claims that women: Hedge: using phrases like sort of, kind of, it seems like, and. Use (super)polite forms: would you mind.,I'd appreciate. If you don't mind.
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There are separate guides to pragmatics and speech on this site. Please use these to find out doordarshan more about these subjects - the current guide assumes that you have done this, or can right do so in the future. Before going any further you should know that the consensus view (the view agreed by the leading authorities at the moment) is that gender does make a difference. And Professor Tannen, for example, can tell you how. But equally you should know that this difference is not universal - so there will be men who exhibit feminine conversational qualities - or women who follow the conversational styles associated with men. Computer-mediated conversation (Internet relay chat, for example) is interesting because here people choose or assume their gender - and this may not be the same as their biological sex.
Back to top In living Language (p. 222 george keith and John Shuttleworth record suggestions that: women - talk more than men, talk too much, are more polite, are indecisive/hesitant, complain and nag, ask more questions, support each other, are more co-operative, whereas men - swear more, don't talk about emotions, talk. Note that some of these are objective descriptions, which can be verified (ask questions, give commands) while others express unscientific popular ideas about language and introduce non-linguistic value judgements (nag, speak with more authority). Back to top In a teaching group, any one of these claims should provoke lively discussion - though this may generate more heat than light. For example, i am certain that I don't swear, insult other men frequently or give commands, but I do talk about sport and can be competitive and interrupt. I cannot easily understand how one could talk about women and machines in the same way - unless this refers to quantifying statistics.
For a teacher who is unsure about the subject, and wants something more substantial than this guide, clive grey's outline should be very useful. If you wish to use print texts, you might find the following instructive: Deborah Tannen, you just Don't Understand david Crystal, Encyclopedia of the English Language,. 368-9 Shirley russell, Grammar, Structure and Style,. 169-175 Howard Jackson and Peter Stockwell, An Introduction to the nature and Functions of Language,. 122-126 Alan Gardiner, English Language a-level Study guide,.
54-55, 94-95, 106-107 Back to top you may search for study materials by using Internet technologies. One very good resource is Susan Githens' study of Gender Styles in Computer Mediated Communication at: Another good resource is Susan Herring's Gender Differences in Computer Mediated Communication: Bringing Familiar Baggage to the new Frontier. Susan Herring has given permission for this article to be freely distributed. You can obtain a copy by clicking on the link below: Back to top Using a search engine, you will soon find resources from some of the leading contemporary authorities on the subject - susan Herring, lesley milroy, dale Spender, deborah Tannen and Peter Trudgill. Deborah Tannen has done much to popularise the theoretical study of language and gender - her 1990 volume you just don't understand: women and men in conversation was in the top eight of non-fiction paperbacks in Britain at one point in 1992. If you have to investigate language for part of a course of study, then you could investigate some area of language and gender. This means that, in an examination, you will be able to" from, and refer to, the things you have found, while much of your analysis of the language data will be good preparation for the examination. Back to top The forms and functions of talk In studying language you must study speech - but in studying language and gender you can apply what you have learned about speech (say some area of pragmatics, such as the cooperative principle or politeness strategies.
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And the differences that linguists have noted can only appear because men and women share a common for social space or environment. Among linguists working in this area, many more seem (to me, anyway) to be women than men. This does not, of course, in any way, lower the value of their work. But for it may be interesting - why do women want to study language and gender? Or, why do men who study language have less interest in this area of sociolinguistic theory? Professor Crystal in his Encyclopedia of the English Language gives less than two full pages to it (out of almost 500). Back to top Where to find out more i hope that this guide gives a comprehensive treatment of the subject, but it is not exhaustive - and this area of study is massive. So where can you find more? For the most thorough account of the subject I have seen, go to Clive grey's overview of Work on Language and Gender Variation at: This is not an easy account to follow, but it names all the important (and many obscure) researchers in this area.
And it is easy to take claims made by linguists in the past (such as Robin lakoff's list of differences between men's and women's language use) the and apply these to language data from the present - we can no longer verify lakoff's claims in relation. Studying language and gender is hard, because students can easily adopt entrenched positions or allow passion to cloud a clear judgement - and what I have just written should tell those who did not know it already that this guide is written by a man! Typically, students may mistrust a teacher's statements about language as it is because these show a world in which stereotypes persist (as if the teacher wanted the world to be this way). On the other hand, any attempt to divide the world into two utterly heterogeneous sexes, with no common ground at all is equally to be resisted. As with many things, the world is not so simple - there are lots of grey areas in the study of language and gender. One example is sexuality - how far the speech and writing of gay men and women approximates to that of the same or the opposite sex, or how far it has its own distinctness. Back to top Remember that the title of John Gray's book, men Are from Mars, women Are from Venus is a metaphor or conceit - we don't really come from different planets.
as patronizing are determined by the feelings of the supposed victim of such behaviour. Your patronizing me needs me to feel that i am patronized. Back to top, the second area of study recalls many discussions of the relative influence of nature and nurture, or of heredity and environment. Of this we can note two things immediately: education or social conditioning can influence gender attitudes in speaking and writing (for example, to make speech more or less politically correct but there are objective differences between the language of men and that of women (considered. Is it easy or hard? Studying language and gender is easy and hard at the same time. It is easy because many students find it interesting, and want to find support for their own developing or established views. It is very easy to gather evidence to inform the study of language and gender.
You will particularly want to know the kinds of questions you might face in exams, where to find information and how to prepare for different kinds of assessment tasks. To get you started, here is an outline of part of one exam board's Advanced level module. Language and Social Contexts - there are three subjects, one of which. The points description reads: In preparing this topic area candidates should study: the forms and functions of talk; gender themes in writing; historical and contemporary changes. In particular, they should examine conversational styles representations in writing. Back to top, this is unobjectionable but not very helpful - essentially it tells you that you have to study spoken and written data. Very broadly speaking, the study of language and gender for Advanced level students in the uk has included two very different things: How language reveals, embodies and sustains attitudes to gender. How language users speak or write in (different and distinctive) ways that reflect their sex. The first of these is partly historic and bound up with the study of the position of men and women in society.
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Introduction, this essay guide is written for students who are following gce advanced level (as and A2) syllabuses in English Language. This resource may also be of general interest to language students on university degree courses, trainee teachers and anyone with a general interest in language science. On this page i use red type for emphasis. Brown type is used where italics would appear in print (in this screen font, italic looks like this, and is unkind on most readers). Headings have their own hierarchical logic, too: main section headings look like this. Sub-section headings look like this, minor headings within sub-sections look like this. Back to top, language and gender - what is it all about? When you start to study language and gender, you may find it hard to discover what this subject, as a distinct area in the study of language, is about.