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AS English Language - Language & Gender

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Izzy Mehmet

on 13 April 2014

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Transcript of AS English Language - Language & Gender

Language & Gender
Key Theorists:
AS English Language

Zimmerman&West(1975) - Dominance Theory
"In mixed gender conversations, males interrupt more than females" - Zimmerman&West
Based on statistical analysis of recorded conversation at the University of Santa Barbara, USA.
Deborah Cameron - Performing Gender
Deborah Cameron argues that there are problems with both the dominance and difference approaches. Cameron notes that throughout the history of studies on language and gender, male-associated forms have been seen as the norm from which the female deviates. E.g. the norm 'manager' becomes 'manageress' when referring to a female.

On the other hand, Cameron argues that what the difference approach labels as different ways of using or understanding language are actually displays of differential power.
She believes that both genders use strategies associated with femininity or masculinity and that cultural variation such as age and social position can affect this.
Deborah Tannen - Difference Theory
Difference is the idea that males and females interact differently.
It differentiates men and women as belonging to different 'sub-cultures' as they have been socialised to do so since childhood. This results in the varying communicative styles of men and women.
Tannen compares gender differences in language to cultural differences. Comparing conversational goals, she argues that men tend to use a "report style," to communicate facts, whereas women often use a "rapport style," which is more concerned with building and maintaining relationships.
Females talk more
Males = competitive Females = cooperative
Females gossip Men discuss facts
Males use taboo language more
Females can't tell jokes
Females are more emotionally expressive
Robin Lakoff (1975) - Deficit Theory
Deficit: Male language is standard and females' use of language is deficient to this.

In 1975 Robin Lakoff identified a "women's register," which she argued served to maintain women's (inferior) role in society. She argued that women tend to use linguistic forms that reflect and reinforce a subordinate role. These include:
Robin Lakoff (1975)
Zimmerman & West (1975)
Deborah Tannen
Deborah Cameron
Key Concepts:
Performing Gender
Polite forms
Empty adjectives
Tag questions
Question intonation
Direct quotation
'Weak' directives
Special lexicon and
Mitigated Imperatives
Females took the more supportive role in conversations and it was found (supported by Lakoff) that female language (tag questions/mitigated imperatives) was seen as 'powerless' whereas male language was 'powerful'.
Language and Gender
Important Theories
Full transcript