Understanding the relationship between language and gender

understanding the relationship between language and gender

Three main approaches to understanding the relationship between language and gender emerged from the s onwards, now recognised as the 'deficit'. The Relationship between Language and Gender And The Implications for Language Planning .. You just don't understand: Women and men in Conversation. Linguistics, Sexism - The Relationship Between Gender and Language. a detailed understanding of the relationship between culture and language.

Verbs See verb page Uncertainty Verbs Verb phrase that shows some level of uncertainty 'I'm not sure if See subordinating conjunctions Grammatical Errors Utterances which are viewed incorrect by a prescriptivist grammar Polite Forms Utterances that express some degree of politeness The following tended to be higher in frequency for males: On the other hand, the following were found to occur more for females: In addition, female characters had longer sentences on average.

Minimal responses[ edit ] One of the ways in which the communicative behaviors of men and women differ is in their use of minimal responses, i.

For example, "minimal responses appearing "throughout streams of talk", such as "mm" or "yeah", may only function to display active listening and interest and are not always signs of "support work", as Fishman claims. They can—as more detailed analysis of minimal responses show—signal understanding, demonstrate agreement, indicate scepticism or a critical attitude, demand clarification or show surprise.

Questions[ edit ] Men and women differ in their use of questions in conversations. For men, a question is usually a genuine request for information whereas with women it can often be a rhetorical means of engaging the other's conversational contribution or of acquiring attention from others conversationally involved, techniques associated with a collaborative approach to language use. For example, Mark Twain used them in " The War Prayer " to provoke the reader to question his actions and beliefs.

Tag questions are frequently used to verify or confirm information, though in women's language they may also be used to avoid making strong statements. Goodwin observes that girls and women link their utterances to previous speakers and develop each other's topics, rather than introducing new topics. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

understanding the relationship between language and gender

November Learn how and when to remove this template message Female tendencies toward self-disclosurei. Instead, scholars define self-disclosure as sharing information with others that they would not normally know or discover. Self-disclosure involves risk and vulnerability on the part of the person sharing the information. Men and women have completely different views of self-disclosure. It typically is much easier to get to know a woman than it is to get to know a man.

It has also been said[ by whom? This form of communication typically involves text only messages that tend to lose their nonverbal cues. Men and women are both more likely to self-disclose on the computer than they would be face to face. People are more confident when using Computer Mediated Communication because communication is faceless, which makes it easier to divulge information.

Sixty-seven women and fifty-three men were asked about intimate and non-intimate self-disclosure to closest same-sex friends. Disclosure to spouse among married respondents was also assessed.

The intimate disclosure of married men to friends was lower than that of unmarried men, married women and unmarried women; the intimate disclosure of these last three groups was similar. Married people's non-intimate disclosure to friends was lower than that of unmarried people, regardless of gender. Married people's intimate disclosure to their spouses was high regardless of gender; in comparison, married men's intimate disclosure to their friends was low, while married women's disclosure to their friends was moderate or even as high as disclosure to their spouses.

understanding the relationship between language and gender

The results suggest that sex roles are not the only determinant of gender differences in disclosure to friends. Marital status appears to have an important influence on disclosure in friendship for men but not for women. It was concluded that research on gender differences in self-disclosure and friendship has neglected an important variable, that of marital status.

This could be because a man may feel he is betraying his wife's confidence by disclosing information that might be considered private. However, the research also showed that the married women didn't change much in either situation, because women tend to self disclose more than men.

Men tend to communicate differently with other men than they do with other women, while women tend to communicate the same with both men and women. The results were consistent with the primary assertion that measures of sex role identity are better predictors of contextual variations in self-disclosure than is sex per se.

Sex consistently failed to predict subjects' willingness to self-disclose, both within and across contexts, whereas femininity promoted self-disclosure in the context that was clearly social and expressive in character. Although masculinity failed to exert the expected facilitative impact on self-disclosure within the instrumental context, it nonetheless influenced the results; androgynous subjects, who scored high in both masculinity and femininity, were more self-revealing across contexts than was any other group.

Displaying strictly feminine or masculine traits will not be to one's advantage in communication, because it is important to be able to recognize and utilize these traits to be an effective communicator. The influence of biological sex on communication values has received scholarly attention. In general, women value affectively oriented communication skills more than men, and men value instrumentally oriented communication skills more than women, although the effect size for these differences are generally small.

Successful communication in relationships is one of the greatest difficulties most couples are forced to overcome. Men in relationships with women may practice self-disclosure more often than their female partner. Self-disclosure is considered to be a key factor in facilitating intimacy. For example, American heterosexual couples were studied using various measures twice a year. By using the average scores of both partners, they found that self-disclosure was higher in those couples who remained together at the second administration of the surveys than in those who broke up between two administrations.

Similarly, researchers asked heterosexual couples who had just begun dating to complete a self-disclosure measure and to answer the same questionnaire four months later. They found that couples who were still dating four months later reported greater self-disclosure at the initial contact than did those who later broke up.

This test shows self-disclosure can be beneficial to facilitating a positive relationship. Self-disclosure is a process which typically begins rapidly, but then plateaus as the couple gains more information. The initial self-disclosure is extremely important when first meeting someone. The first interactions between a potential couple could be deciding factors in the success or failure of the relationship.

Self-disclosure is difficult because not all women and men communicate the same. Verbal aggression[ edit ] Aggression can be defined by its three intersecting counterparts: Indirect aggression occurs when the victim is attacked through covert and concealed attempts to cause social suffering. Examples are gossiping, exclusion or ignoring of the victim. Relational aggression, while similar to indirect, is more resolute in its attentions.

It can be a threat to terminate a friendship or spreading false rumors. The third type of aggression, social aggression, "is directed toward damaging another's self-esteem, social status, or both, and may take direct forms such as verbal rejection, negative facial expressions or body movements, or more indirect forms such as slanderous rumors or social exclusion. Underwood, leading researcher in child clinical psychology and developmental psychology, began using the term social aggression in several of her experiments.

It was found that technology and electronic communication has become a key factor in social aggression. This discovery has been termed cyber-bullying. In another experiment, social aggression was used to see if verbal and nonverbal behaviors contributed to a person's social value. In a third study, the experimenters determined that while socially aggressive students were vastly disliked, they were alleged to be the popular kids and had the highest marked social status.

Most research has been based on teacher assessments, case studies and surveys. For years, all research on aggression focused primarily on males because it was believed females were non-confrontational. Recently however, people have realized that while "boys tend to be more overtly and physically aggressive, girls are more indirectly, socially, and relationally aggressive.

Physical aggression occurs in a person's second year and continues till preschool. Toddlers use this aggression to obtain something they want that is otherwise denied or another has. In preschool, children become more socially aggressive and this progresses through adolescence and adulthood. Social aggression is not used to acquire materialistic things but to accomplish social goals.

However, until the fourth grade there is an overall negative correlation between aggression and popularity. This popularity does not insinuate likeability. In the seventh grade, social aggression seems to be at its peak.

When eight- eleven- and fifteen-year-olds were compared, there were high reports of social aggression but no apparent statistical differences between the age groups. In classrooms with a high achievement record, researchers were less likely to find social aggression. Vice versa can be found for classrooms with a low achievement record. Furthermore, males are also ranked higher in popularity if they are physically aggressive. But, if males practice relational or social aggression then they are seen as unpopular among their peers.

In addition to gender, the conditions in which a child grows up in also affects the likelihood of aggression. This is speculated because of the higher rates of conflict and fighting already in the household. Parents who use an aversive style of parenting can also contribute to the social aggression in their children. In a study done measuring the aggressive acts committed by cartoon characters on television, out of minutes of programming time aggressive acts took place.

If children relate to the characters, then they are more likely to commit similar acts of aggression. For teenagers, popular films and series such as Mean GirlsEasy A and Gossip Girl have shown an exaggerated, damaging view of how society works. Already, latest studies have shown an increase of social aggression in girls. Other experiments, such as one done by Albert Bandurathe Bobo doll experimenthave shown similar results of society shaping your behavior because of the impact of a model.

The development of social aggression can be explained by the social identity theory and evolutionary perspective. You see yourself as part of the in-group and people who are dissimilar to you as part of the out-group. In middle and high school these groups are known as cliques and can have several names. In the popular teen drama Mean Girls, "varsity jocks", "desperate wannabes", "over-sexed band geeks", "girls who eat their feelings", "cool Asians" and "the Plastics" were several cliques from the movie.

The out-group has several other divisions but for the most part the in-group will categorize the out-groups all as one. Around this time, it becomes important for a females social identity to be associated with the in-group.

When a girl possess qualities that are valued in the in-group, then her social identity will increase. However, if her characteristics resemble those of the out-group, then she will be attack the out-group in order to keep her social standing within the in-group.

This intergroup struggle, also known as social competition, mostly comes the in-group condemning the out-group, not the other way around. Inside the social groups there is also a hierarchal ranking, there are followers and there are leaders.

When one's position in the group does not lead to positive self-identity, then the group members will feud with one another to increase status and power within the clique. Studies show that the closer a female is to her attacker, the less likely she is to forgive. This aggression stemmed from "successful competition for scarce resources… and enables optimal growth and development.

The coercive strategies involve controlling and regulating all resources of the out-group through a monopoly. For this scheme, one must rely heavily on threats and aggression. Gender identity can thus be multifaceted and achieved in myriad ways, with indexical meaning shifting and changing according to the sociocultural context.

Nonetheless, the understanding of norms of gender afforded to us by this research is extremely useful when applying linguistics to real-life contexts such as the classroom.

Preecefor example, identifies discursive strategies used by undergraduate students in a British university, showing that one way that young men from non- traditional backgrounds in higher education particularly ethnic minorities and those who are working-class save face in an environment in which they feel marginalised is to adopt a laddish persona that indexes an indifference to academic success.

In turn, this allows them to draw on ideologies associated with working-class masculinity, such as independence and toughness. For example, they deliberately wore unfashionable clothing, avoided slang terms and employed high-culture terminology such as Latin to demonstrate their intelligence.

This allowed them to index a version of girlhood that was salient for them and which disrupted ideals of teenage femininity. Similarly, studies of lesbian identity construction e. Queen ; Morrish and Sauntson ; Jones have typically found that gay women often actively dissociate themselves from mainstream ideas of femininity in order to perform a non-heteronormative version of woman, showing again how issues of sexuality are intrinsically tied to questions of gender.

Much 14 emphasis in this area has been placed on examining the language of women in leadership or professional roles that have traditionally been seen as suited to men. In this sense, research into language and gender can reveal much about the ways in which women are prevented from being successful as leaders see also HolmesBaxter Her study of police officers in Pittsburgh, for example, shows that female police officers who altered their voice, language and clothing to index a cool, professional identity were taken more seriously than if they conformed to overtly feminised styles.

This work reveals broader ideologies of gender normativity and the ways in which these ideologies not only constrain but also shape the identities it is possible for women to perform. As Litosseliti and Sunderland This demonstrates the need for applied linguists doing language and identity studies to carefully consider the role that gender plays in educational, or other institutional, contexts.

In classroom contexts, gender norms are likely to play a role in how different children learn or succeed in the classroom and in the identities that they inhabit or are ascribed even in contexts that do not appear to be gendered.

understanding the relationship between language and gender

For applied linguists, an understanding of how gender roles are produced and drawn upon is important when trying to understand patterns of language use in real-world contexts. Trans identities A less explored area of language and gender research concerns trans identities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the cultural privilege and dominance of cisgender people, the vast majority of work that has taken place so far 16 into language and gender identity involves speakers who are cisgender, though this aspect of their identity would typically be implicitly presumed.

A limited body of work has emerged to combat this, however. One of the more established approaches to language and trans identities is the exploration of gendered grammar; Kulick considers how Brazilian transgender prostitutes use feminine gendered grammar to construct their own subjectivity as females, for instance, as does Livia in her analysis of the writings of a French trans woman.

Using sociophonetics, he shows that trans men do not always use the entire pitch range generally associated with masculinity though many do ; this conflicts with the heteronormative expectation that a trans person would use language to allow them to pass as cisgender. He argues that, once trans men begin to be perceived as men through more outwards styles and symbols, some feel less concerned about engaging fully in — and therefore indexing — heteronormative cis masculinity; some trans men may feel more comfortable including aspects of language in their speech that might be said to index femininity.

Instead, it reveals that the experiences and identities of an individual will lead to a specific form of identity construction.

Again, gender is revealed to be a complex phenomenon. Such analyses have been enabled partly by the development of the community of practice CoP approach, introduced to sociolinguistics and applied linguistics by Eckert and McConnell-Ginet The CoP has been extensively drawn on by Eckert.

For example, in her ethnographic study of an American high school, Eckert uses the notion of CoP to examine the practices of two recognisable groups in the school: Eckert analysed their language use in relation to the social structures within the school, most specifically in terms of gender and class. The language practices of the Jocks were intrinsically tied to their social aspirations as middle-class kids, for example, as they used more standard forms of English to index an academically oriented persona.

The Burnouts, by contrast, used 18 non-standard forms that allowed them to index an affiliation with their local, working- class roots. Eckert found that there was a clear difference between each CoP in terms of gender; girls in the Jock group used more standard language than the boys, whilst Burnout girls used more non-standard language than Burnout boys.

In both groups, then, the girls seemed to work harder than the boys at indexing their membership of the CoP; this reflects findings in variationist sociolinguistics that women may rely more on symbolic means of articulating their identities than men, who have historically been more able to gain power and prestige through such means as employment see Labov Through ethnographic fieldwork, Mendoza-Denton learnt that the girls valued skills associated with fighting and qualities associated with loyalty.

Because she understood these values from their perspective — a fundamental aim of ethnography — Mendoza-Denton was able to explain the various linguistic and stylistic practices that the girls engaged in; they wore eyeliner in a specific way to symbolise how tough they were and tended not to wear certain items of jewellery, such as earrings, in order to show that they were always ready to fight.

These girls identified with some aspects of heteronormative femininity but in specific ways; they adopted or reworked familiar practices such as wearing makeup depending on how they suited their needs, enabling them to index a locally salient identity as gang girls. The CoP, then, has made an important contribution to the study of gender identity in sociolinguistics and applied linguistics because it enables us to move beyond pre-defined structures such 19 as those associated with binary gender and encourages us to consider those who do not fit squarely — or normatively — into an ideological category.

Research using the CoP also emphasises the importance of understanding the context in which an identity is produced in order to gain clear insight into the meaning of that identity; this is very important to applied linguists hoping to learn more about how and why, for example, learners of a target language are more or less successful.

In this sense, Norton sees language learning as not simply about learning a code, but as developing a new identity; successful learners will be able to imagine themselves benefiting from their use of a new language, such as by becoming a legitimate member of a new CoP.

Through in-depth research such as this, then, applied linguists can better understand the impact that gender identity has on real- world problems that impact on migrants. Critical discourse analysts are concerned with identifying, challenging and unpicking instantiations of discourse, with the aim of revealing how those with power and control over the production and distribution of texts push particular ideological discourses. This approach also reveals much about the identities we recognise within society, since they are legitimised through their repeated representation.

In this sense, the analysis of texts in language, gender and sexuality research tends to focus on not only the text itself, but the way it has been created, why, by whom, for whom, and what consequences its creation has had Baker Talbot reveals the patriarchal notions present in the text such as the idea that girls must make themselves look beautiful but also demonstrates that the media are active in reproducing gender ideologies.

Language and gender

These ideologies may be drawn upon by girls when attempting to index a salient feminine identity, one that allows them to fit in with their peers.

Messages that spell out the norms for how women and men should behave have long been present in such media. For example, Mills and Mullany As well as analysing texts where women or men are represented in sexist or heteronormative ways, research in this area can also concern analyses of texts where particular groups are not well represented.

Of particular relevance to applied linguists is research that analyses resources used by language teachers, as these may often 22 reveal important stereotypes and ideologies relating to gender. Scholars such as Sunderland for example, have found that women are often underrepresented in language learning textbooks, with male discourse frequently presented as the norm, or men rather than women being the initiators of conversations.

In part, this is because the resources used to teach students a language are expected to represent, in some way, the culture in which that language is spoken; the ideology of men being more dominant than women continues to be salient in many English-speaking contexts. However, stereotypes in textbooks also have the potential to alienate certain readers, potentially impacting on their motivation and investment in learning the target language, and also run the risk of reinforcing negative preconceptions that learners might have about the roles of women or men.

In this sense, the study of how women and men are differently represented in such texts is an extremely important aspect of research into the representation of gender identity. Summary Research into gender identities is of crucial importance to applied linguistics. For example, the vast majority of studies into gender and sexual identities that have been carried out consider cisgender speakers and there has not, as yet, been a large-scale linguistic study of trans women. Similarly, as argued above, the speakers typically included in many of the earlier studies into language and gender were white, middle-class, heterosexual Westerners.

However, there is also a need to consider gender identity construction as it intersects with other identities beyond sexuality or nation, such as ethnicity, age or social class. This means not only considering speakers of a variety of backgrounds and in a range of cultural contexts though this is extremely importantbut also acknowledging that many of the speakers that have been researched to date also had identities which were informed by their race or their social status; those who are white and middle-class may be privileged, but their class and ethnicity are not neutral and their gender identity does not sit in isolation from these factors.

Gender, Age and Language

In this chapter, I have provided an account of key issues and debates surrounding language and identity studies in which gender is under examination. This chapter has demonstrated that language produces, as well as reflects, ideological categories associated with heteronormativity and binary notions of gender.

Research into language and gender has highlighted the myriad ways in which we index and perform gender and sexual identities in given contexts and the ways in which these identities are culturally represented.

Language and gender - Wikipedia

The field of language and gender has changed enormously since its foundations were laid by feminist linguists in the s, with current work using increasingly varied methods and approaches to study speakers and texts in a range of contexts and communities.

As the field continues to evolve, however, it is important to remember its origins: The study of language and gender identities is, after all, a fundamentally feminist endeavour. Related topics Positioning language and identity: This book offers a very good introduction to key issues relating to language and gender, and intrinsic to this discussion is a consideration of sexual identity. This edited volume brings together research using a wide range of methods and analytical tools, studying both gender and sexuality in a variety of cultural contexts.

Despite the publication date it remains an enormously useful volume, marking a time of change in the field and reflecting the agenda of language, gender and sexuality scholars today. This textbook provides a very thorough and detailed account of what gender is and how it is researched by linguists, as well as chapters dealing with key areas of enquiry such as politeness, style and assertiveness.

Language, gender and feminism. In this textbook, Mills and Mullany show how feminism has been, and 27 must continue to be, central to the methods and approaches used to analyse gendered discourse, whilst offering an up-to-date account of research in the field of language, gender and sexuality.

understanding the relationship between language and gender

Supermodels of the world, unite! Political economy and the language of performance among African American drag queens, in W.

Beyond the lavender lexicon: Gordon and Breach Press, pp. Intersectionality in language and identity research, in S. The Routledge handbook of language and identity. Outline of a theory of practice. Working with spoken discourse. Linguistic variation as social practice: The history of sexuality.

Gordon and Breach, pp. Selections from the prison notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. Language and non normative sexual identities, in S. Lip service on the fantasy lines, in M.