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+ Talking Sex: Culture, gender and language use. + What is culture? The key definitional features are that: culture concerns the group or the collectivity.

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Presentation on theme: "+ Talking Sex: Culture, gender and language use. + What is culture? The key definitional features are that: culture concerns the group or the collectivity."— Presentation transcript:

1 + Talking Sex: Culture, gender and language use

2 + What is culture? The key definitional features are that: culture concerns the group or the collectivity culture is learned behaviour/values/knowledge/perceptions culture is knowledge that transcends the individual culture is the way of life of a people/group culture is a process and product of history (i.e. it changes with time) culture is ordered and organized in certain ways.

3 + Cultural knowledge Acquired and learned through complex processes of primary and secondary socialization. Through explicit instruction, emulation, osmosis What becomes known is often subconscious and regarded as normal and natural (differences abnormal and unnatural) Covers gamut of human behaviour: eating, moving, posture, gestures (gaze, hands, etc.), conversing, flirting, being sociable, rearing children, family responsibilities, impression management, attractiveness, belief in the supernatural (religion), beliefs about gender roles. Expectations, attitudes, fears, joy, excitement, humour and much more - are all culturally learned Groups share symbols: most obvious is language Cultural knowledge differs according to the group

4 + Cultural differences As humans we search for patterns. We have an in-built capacity to identify them and learn from them. We then go through processes of adaptation cultural learning: based on previous experiences, including stereotyping

5 + Is it culturally acceptable … … in polite company, to eat holding only a fork? To drink from a bottle of beer at the table? To smack ones 3 yr old child? To stand in a queue or form a queue at the bus stop? To walk across a pedestrian crossing when the light shows DONT WALK?

6 + Multi-culturality We are all multi-cultural in that we move between different cultural groups (sub-cultures) in our everyday life

7 + Underlying cultural rationales Clifford Geertz: Each cultural world operates according to its own internal dynamic, laws written and unwritten (cultural rationale) There are, however, common threads running through all forms of cultural behaviour (how ck is transmitted, how digressions are sanctioned, etc.) World of communication: three parts: words and discourse, material things, behaviour By studying these 3 parts we may learn about a vast, unexplored region of human behaviour

8 + Differences? Men and women and biologically different, and their social roles are clearly separated in many obvious respects, so what about their language use? This question has generated a great deal of research and debate, and the research results are far from consensual. Are some languages more sexist than others? Does this reflect (and confirm and continue) sexist attitudes in society?

9 + The culture of sexism

10 + Ladybirdland Peter helps his friend with some carpentry while Jane saddles up for a horse ride. Peter waters the garden while Jane warns him, maternally: "Don't get wet and don't let the water get on the cat. She does not like it." Jane then bathes her dolls. What are your experiences in terms of expectations regarding gender roles?

11 + English: common words: mankind, chairman, fireman, manhole, etc everyday expressions: man in the street, one man, one vote woman taking husbands name at marriage Danish: franskmand, nordmand, pronoun man (one)

12 + Gender: social construct Gender (not sex) is socially accomplished through interaction, dress, appearance, behaviour in general and, perhaps, in the way we speak and interact Is there a male and female way of interacting through language?

13 + Women live longer than men Earn less in Western societies, occupy fewer leader roles in the job market Generally fulfill different social roles Socialised somewhat differently (expectations re. behaviour, values, etc.) Biological differences: size, testosterone, oestrogen, and concomitant behavioural differences (aggression) Numerous obersvers claim men and women talk in different ways

14 + Some differences.. Phonological: Amerindian language Gros Ventre there are phonological differences between mens and womens speech Tone: Margaret Thatcher changed her speaking style to sound more like a man, when became PM Vocabulary: Lakoff claims that women use colour terms and adjectives that men typically do not

15 + More (apparent) differences.. E.g. lovely, adorable, mate, charming, sweet (others?).. Taboo words: some claims that men swear more frequently than women Conversational style: Research has claimed that men interrupt more often than women (although this has also been disputed by others) Gossip: Preisler examined womens speech and claimed greater amount of small-talk or gossip amongst women on factory floor Your observations?

16 + Talking gender Deborah Tannen: You Just Dont Understand: different expectations regarding talking between sexes John Gray: Mars and Venus Deborah Cameron: The myth of Mars and Venus Summarise some of DBs main points Discuss your views (in 3s) on what Cameron says

17 + Political correctness Greater awareness of language as vehicle of sexism Sexism: apparent in language use: he-she-it, Professional titles: often show sex bias: Danish: barnepige (barnedreng?), smorrebrødsjomfru Nationality groups (Danish): cf. Norwegian, French English: tendency not to mark some professions for gender: fireman (fire fighter), actor (actress?), policeman (police officer)


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