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Language and sex. Differences between women and men have always been a topic of interest to the human species and supposed linguistic differences are.

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Presentation on theme: "Language and sex. Differences between women and men have always been a topic of interest to the human species and supposed linguistic differences are."— Presentation transcript:

1 language and sex

2 Differences between women and men have always been a topic of interest to the human species and supposed linguistic differences are often enshrined in proverbs: Do men and women speak the same?

3 The North Sea will sooner be found wanting in water than a woman at a loss for a word. ( Jutland ) A woman's tongue wags like a lamb's tail. (England) Foxes are all tail and women are all tongue. ( England-Cheshire)

4 structures, vocabularies, ways of using particular languages and the social roles who speak these languages. men women Do the men and women who speak a particular language use it in different ways? If they do, do these differences arise from the structure of that language

5 do these differences arise from the structure of that language, which would therefore be do any differences that exist simply reflect the ways in which the sexes relate to each other in that society, whatever the reason? May it be possible to describe a particular language as ‘sexist,’ or should we reserve such a description for those who use that language?

6 In the linguistic literature perhaps the most famous example of gender differentiation is found in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies among the Carib Indians. Male and female Caribs have been reported to speak different languages, The result of a long- ago conquest in which a group of invading Caribs peaking men killed the local Arawak-speaking men and mated with the Arawak women. The descendants of these Carib-speaking men and Arawak- speaking women have sometimes been described as having different languages for men and women because boys learn Carib from their fathers and girls learn Arawak from their mothers. This claim of two separate languages is now discounted. What differences there are actually do not result in two separate or different languages, but rather one language with noticeable gender-based characteristics

7 What are some stereotypes about the way men and women behave? aggressive Rational powerful strong confident stubborn Direct/assertive Bad listeners Not emotional - detached Sports freaks Bread winner Problem solver Math doer Bug killers Good driver Hard worker masculine Passive / aggressive feminine Irrationaldelicate Hysterical Moody Nurturing Care-taker / care-giver Intuitive Spiritual Talkative / gossipy Nagging

8 loud Brief/blunt/to the point Mumble/no enunciate manipulative (direct) Non-emotional content/Fact-based content 1 st person experiencesswearing Gruntlower classes talk less correct Lower voices/deeperargumentative Literal meaningmen don’t talk Confidence in statementexaggerate Do interruptbaby-talk expressive Tangential (going off topic)3 rd person exp Superficial more standard Mumble/speak softly class? Chatty Cathybigger vocab Gossipelegant Exaggeratemanipulative (indirect) Laugh/smile self-effacing Cooperative/diplomatic2- faced/catty High rising intonation hedging

9 Phonological differences between the speech of men and women have been noted in a variety of languages. the difference is not only genderrelated, but also age-graded. the English language makes certain distinctions of a gender-based kind, e.g., actor–actress, waiter–waitress, and master–mistress.

10 For example, master and mistress have developed quite different ranges of use and meaning, so that whereas Joan can be described as Fred’s mistress, Fred cannot be described as Joan’s master. Other pairs of words which reflect similar differentiation are boy–girl, man–woman, gentleman–lady, bachelor–spinster, and even widower– widow. In the last case, whereas you can say ‘She’s Fred’s widow,’ you cannot say ‘He’s Sally’s widower.’ frequent insistence that neutral words be used as much as possible, as in describing occupations e.g., chairperson, letter carrier, salesclerk, and actor (as in ‘She’s an actor’).


12 Women in many countries are more status-conscious than men, and therefore more aware of the social significance of linguistic variables.

13 In normal situations, female speakers tend to use more prestigious forms than their male counterparts with the same general social background.

14 Peter Trudgill studied the double negation structures. He found that the use of “ I didn ’ t do nothing ” to mean “ I did nothing ” is more common in a male ’ s speech than in a female ’ s speech , given that their social background is the same.

15 In addition, a woman tends to use polite forms, therefore a woman ’ s use of language is more indirect, while men's use of language is more straightforward and less polite.

16 Besides, the gender differences are also reflected in the use of the same lexical items. For example, women tend to use such words as: “ lovely ”, “ sweet ”, “ divine ”, “ nice ”, “ darling ”, “ cute ”, “ adorable ”, “ charming ” which have almost become the markers of a female.

17 a. Oh dear, you've put the peanut butter in the refrigerator again. b. Shit, you've put the peanut butter in the refrigerator again.

18 Imagine a man and a woman both looking at the same wall, painted a pinkish shade of purple. The woman may say: Women prefer to use the following colour words while most men do not: mauve, beige, aquamarine, lavender, magenta The wall is mauve.

19 If the man should say the above sentence, one might well conclude he was imitating a woman sarcastically, or was a homosexual, or an interior decorator. The wall is mauve.

20 females: so good, such fun, exquisite, lovely, divine, precious, adorable, darling, fantastic. neutral: great, terrific, cool, neat Women have their own vocabulary for emphasizing certain effects:

21 Compared with men, women tend to use such adverbs. : horridly, abominably, immensely, excessively, amazingly , so, most,etc.

22 Language and age Certain linguistic features occur more frequently in the speech of one generation than that of the other.

23 My own view is that men’s and women’s speech differ because boys and girls are brought up differently and men and women often fill different roles in society. Moreover, most men and women know this and behave accordingly. If such is the case, we might expect changes that make a language less sexist to result from child-rearing practices and role differentiations which are less sexist. Men and women alike would benefit from the greater freedom of choice that would result. However, it may be utopian to believe that language use will ever become ‘neutral.’ Humans use everything around them – and language is just a thing in that sense – to create differences among themselves. Speech may well be gendered but there actually may be no easy solution to that problem.

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