Mixed Sex Conversations – Research

Mixed sex conversations
Class Research
What did we do?
Two females and makes were selected to go outside the classroom. Meanwhile our teacher handed us sheets where we ticked what linguistic features we observed.  Then the first male and female speaker was called in and told to have a conversation in front of the class. After monitoring their conversation they were given a sheet to observe the second couples conversation.
What was the point?
We were trying to see which gender uses which features the most.
What were my results?
Female Speaker
Male Speaker
Hedge (sort of, kind of)
Polite form
Tag question (isn’t it?)
Peaking (intonational emphasis)
Question initiator/prompt
//// ////
Swear word
Empty adjective (sweet, lovely)
Intensifier (really, absolutely)
Direct quotation
Specialised vocabulary (descriptions of colour)
High rise terminal (statements sounding like questions)
////  /
Paralinguistic features
Other Observations
*Male speakers tended to have longer turns.
*Male speaker looked more comfortable
Our research showed that even though male speaker had longer turn hence used a range of speaker, it was the women who were initiating and doing everything to keep the conversation going. A phrase quoted by Coates depicts this exactly, women do the ‘conversational shitwork’. They were interrupting and initiating much more.
We then did the same research based on a video.
What did we do?
The mixed sex conversation in this video was analysed in class.
Why did we do this?
We did this to see whether our class results were similar to how gender is represented in this film.
Our findings
Female Speaker
Male speaker
////  //
Power violation
Paralinguistic features
High rise terminal
Eye contact
Empty adjective
Politeness strategy
Stereotype representation
Minimal response
Specialised lexis
As with our class experiment it was the female speaker who seem to be doing the initiating and keeping the conversation going. The difference is, the film used the stereotype ‘women talk more’ and the female speaker was given longer turn to represent this.The peaking/intonation of her voice reflected this to. The male speaker didn’t appear to follow any stereotype (this is my interpretation- I could be wrong), instead he used more politeness markers and strategies than the women which I found interesting because stereotypical men are supposed to be impersonal, impolite and use more swear words. In conclusion, the results were similar just the difference lay in that the film was following certain stereotypes which linguistic such as Cameron believe are false.
What did we do?
We then carried out the same test in respect of a transcript.
Activity – why not see you can analyse the following transcript?
This data has from research conducted by Jennifer Coates.
Female: How’s your paper coming?
Male:     Alright I guess (1) haven’t done much in the last week
Female: Yeah, know how that can ]
Male:                                         ] hey, ya got an extra cigarette
Female: Yeah sure (hand him packet) like my pa]
Male:                                                             How ‘bout a match
Female: Ere ya go uh like my pa]
Male:                                      ] thanks (1.8)
Female: Sure (.) I was gonna tell you my]
Male:                                                  Hey I’d really like to talk but I gotta run(.) see ya
Female: Yeah
My analysis
Female: How’s your paper coming?¹
Male:     Alright I guess (1) haven’t done much in the last week
Female: Yeah, know how that can² ]
Male:                                         ]³ hey, ya got an extra cigarette⁴
Female: Yeah sure⁵ (hand him packet) like my pa⁶]
Male:                                                             How ‘bout a match⁷
Female: Ere ya go uh like my pa⁸]
Male:                                      ] thanks⁹ (1.8)
Female: Sure (.) I was gonna tell you my¹⁰]
Male:                                                  Hey I’d really like to talk but I gotta run (.) see  ya¹¹
Female: Yeah¹²
1 = Initiates conversation
2 = Gives feedback and attempts to develop the conversation – strengthening shared space
3 = Power violation – he shows his dominance
4= completely changes the conversation – there are no politeness strategies used to show that he was listening to what she was saying.
5= Polite
6= Attempts to restart the conversation and develop the shared space
7 =  Similar to a high rise terminal and again dismiss what she is saying with a power violation and attempts to change the conversation from being interactional to transactional. He uses no politeness strategies.
8= Still continues to make the conversation interactional and develop it further
9 = first politeness marker used after being rude
10 = For the fourth time she attempts to develop and maintain the conversation
11 = no closing sequences he just dismisses her and uses valediction. Meta-talks hints what  he is about to do.
12 = back channeling – no valediction or closing sequence or meta -talk
Other comments
I think this transcript clearly is evidence for many of the male stereotypes e.g. being dominant, exercising power and being rude with no politeness strategies utilise. Clearly as this also demonstrates the belief that women do the do the hard work in conversation e.g. keeping it going and maintaining it. Furthermore, I thought it could be that this women is known to talk too much and the male was having a rough and was not in the mood or something like that because that would effect the way they converse. If more information was provided we could come up with more precise answers.


Activity – which speaker has a male listener and which has a female listener?
Compare these two extracts. One has a women listening  to the speaker and one has a man. Can you guess which is which?
Extract 1:
In other words black women are white (2) y’now it’s really a simplistic article (0.5) you know he starts off saying – this- (1) you know (0.8) sort of this gross indiscriminate black versus white (1) vision.
Extract 2:
And this put her into a bit if a flap (mhm) so before she could do anything about this she had to pull forwards (mhm) in order to er open the gates so she took the car out of reverse, put it into first gear (yeah) and pulled forward very gently (yeah).

Extract 1 has a male listener and and extract 2 has a female listener. This can be deduced by examining listener behaviour.
What is the difference in listener behaviour?
The male listener in extract one does not even once support the listener and as a result there are silences and a lot of ‘y’now’ from the speaker in attempt to connect to the listener. The female speaker in extract two supports the listener with a lot of back channeling e.g. ‘mhm’. She uses sympathetic circulatory markers to show she is listening as a result there is less direct language from the speaker and no silences.
Some more linguistic empirical evidence…
There is empirical evidence showing that use more turn-taking violation. The table below shows the daily interaction of seven couples based on Defrancisco.
No response
Delayed response
Inadequate response
Throughout whatever research I conducted, I think Deborah Fishman’s point is correct. Women are the sex that do the ‘conversational shitwork’. As they are the ones always keeping the conversation going.

2 thoughts on “Mixed Sex Conversations – Research

  1. Interesting article 🙂 and it is particularly interesting to see that there are still female and male stereotypes in conversation. I found very similar results when I did a very similar task – I recorded conversations then analysed them.

    As a proofreading point:
    As with our class experiment it was the female speaker who seem to be doing the initiating and keeping the conversation going.” This needs to say “it was the female speakers who seemed to be…” because there is more than one speaker and more importantly you’re using the verb “was” which is past tense so you need the past tense form of “seem”. 🙂

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