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Language and Gender Theorists

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Charlotte Prince

on 8 March 2014

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Transcript of Language and Gender Theorists

Language and Gender Theorists
Differences in the way men and women communicate?
Some theorists (people who come up with new ideas that can't be 100% proven) argue that there are differences in the ways which males and females communicate.
It is really important as you read through the different theories to remember that there is no right or wrong theory- you may agree or disagree with each of them- the important thing is to think about how you might apply it to language study.

There are four main divisions of thought about language and gender, they fall into 4Ds:
Deficit
Dominance
Difference
Diversity
Deficit Model:

the idea that the way men speak is 'the norm' and that women are conditioned by society to act and talk in different ways to men
Dominance model:

men seen to control topics of conversation, interrupt more and talk more
Dale Spender (1980):
men have more freedom to be assertive
( interruptions, imperative verbs 'will', declarative sentences)
men are more likely to use foul language and humour

Pamela Fishman (1977):
men are more likely to respond with silence than women are
Zimmerman and West (1975):
men control conversation topic and dominate turn taking
'females are the class of speakers whose rights to speak appear to be casually infringed on by males'
But:
Both of these ideas rely on stereotypes of dominant men and meek women and obviously not everyone falls into these stereotypes
These theories don't take into account cultures, occupations or class
They are most useful for accessing how far we stick to gender stereotypes in 'gender texts' and how much we break them
Now watch this video and answer questions on the D2L...
Difference Model:

sees men and women as two different cultures. It focuses on how much power we have in relation to someone else and how similar to them we are

Deborah Tannen (1991):

Men: Women:
Trained to seek power Trained to seek intimacy
Trained to be competitive Trained to cooperate
See conversation as a report See conversation as a rapport
(exchange of information) (chance to build relationships)
Minimum narratives Embellished narratives
Saying 'sorry'=guilt/failure Saying sorry=sympathy
But:
Janet Holmes
says that gender is not a culture. She suggests that people are more influenced in how they speak by their social class rather than gender.
Gender is just one of the factors that influences language.
Now watch this video and answer questions on the D2L...
Diversity:
the idea that gender is not a given but is socially constructed
Jennifer Coates (2004):
the characteristics of language use in same-sex groups
•House Talk - its distinguishing function is the exchange of information and resources connected with the female role as an occupation.
•Scandal - a considered judging of the behaviour of others, and women in particular. It is usually made in terms of the domestic morality, of which women have been appointed guardians.
•Bitching - this is the overt expression of women�s anger at their restricted role and inferior status. They express this in private and to other women only. The women who bitch are not expecting change; they want only to make their complaints in an environment where their anger will be understood and expected.
•Chatting - this is the most intimate form of gossip, a mutual self-disclosure, a transaction where women use to their own advantage the skills they have learned as part of their job of nurturing others.
Now watch this video and answer questions on the D2L...
Robin Lakoff (1975), Main ideas about male and female conversation:
women are trained to talk like ladies
(positive/negative faced politeness, sorry, please, thank you)
women are less likely to swear or use foul language
(more likely to use euphemisms, imply meanings pragmatically)
women are less assertive than men
(few interruptions, hedges, modal verbs like 'should, could')
women are uncertain and need reassurance
(back channeling, false starts, tag questions)
women are more hesitant and powerless
(lack of turn taking, simultaneous speech, fillers used)
But:
Hedges and fillers can be seen as important utterances- pathetic talk can be soothing and demonstrate emotional intelligence, allows participants to feel relaxed
All women are not the same and Lakoff's research did not take into account class, race or occupation- all important features of a person's idiolect
Now watch this video and answer questions on the D2L...

Shirley Valentine
The Manchurain Candidate
Sex and the City
Full transcript