Language and Gender: English and English Speakers

Language and Gender: English
and English Speakers
Chapter 7
Gender Differences
• Effects of Cultural Norms
• English- variety of frequencies of:
– Sounds
– Grammatical features
– words
• Stereotypes
– Effects
– Hierarchy favoring who?
• “Gender is an aspect of identity that is
enacted through discourse practices” (188)
• Phonological Variants
– Differences in the frequencies of using particular
• “A link bw speech variants favored by females and an
interrelated constellation of cultural meanings,
including formality, politeness, and compliance” (189)
– Rules of appropriateness for males and females
• Other factors include class and contextual style
• Females use standard and prestige pronunciations, and
in context also quicker and sharper stylistic shift
– Intonation is a complex combination of rhythm,
volume, and pitch overlaying entire utterances.
– Women use more dynamic intonation contours
– Feminine- speech varied in overall rhythmic and
pitch patterns.
– Masculine- speech is narrower in limits regarding
rhythm and pitch.
Grammatical Variants
• May be anecdotal or introspective
– May be actual or stereotypical
– Inconsistent results
• Lakoff study: women use more (tag) questions
because they are reluctant to make direct
– See charts on page 197
Choices of Vocabulary
• Differences in certain words or categories of words
used in speech frequency.
• Controversy over results
– Age as an additional factor to gender
– Use of profanity found among men and lower class
– Men are expected to control their feelings and refrain from
using words that marked emotional expressiveness.
• Women- indecisive, imprecise, or mitigated speech
• Men- norm or neutral form of communication, opposite to
Gender-Related Conversational Styles
• Alternatives in speaker turns, topic
introduction and control and mechanisms of
signaling active listenership.
• Cross-ethnic miscommunication:
– Conceptions of friendly conversation
– Rules for engaging in it and interpreting it.
– “Boys & girls grow up in different worlds…and as
adults they travel in different worlds, reinforcing
patterns established in childhood” (201)
• Critique of Tannen
Gender-related Conversational Styles
• Men and women reproduce their social rights by the
way that they present themselves and interactpolitical act.
– i.e. study in the use of silence and speech to establish and
maintain authority.
• Powerful people are more likely to interrupt and less
likely to be interrupted
• Fishman’s data- “strategies to insure, encourage and
subvert conversation”
– Attention beginnings (2x more by women)
– Asking questions (women 2.5 x more than men)
– Asking “D’ya know what?” (women 2x more)
Gender Bias in English
• Words that demean females: reproduce and
reinforce negative stereotypes
– Become internalized symbols and result in male attitudes
– Females accept negative self-assessments.
• Classes of Vocabulary
– Opposite sex- polarity, no overlap or congruence,
– Male & female- denotes primary status of males
– Gender hierarchy in marital relationships
– Girls’names (ending in -a, -ine, -y), use of “girl” and “boy”
for adults.
– Sexist language- “He” and “Man”