Deborah Cameron

Deborah Cameron

Below are notes I have made on her ideas

Deborah Cameron, a linguistic, suggests in her book ‘The Myth of Mars and Venus’ that you can never tell the gender of someone through their language except in 2 situations: (i) women who speak on sex related chat lines and (ii) if someone is having a sex change then they will receive language advice.

She gives a lot of evidence for this and the one I believe really persuades you is the one where their are four boys discussing another boy. (This transcript is analysed in the earlier section ‘male talk’). All linguistic evidence points that it is a group of females when actually they are male. Examples of this include, firstly there is a semantic field of clothes which is stereotypically associated with females and the vocabulary is specialised too e.g. ‘French cut spandex’. Specialised lexis is something that Robin Lakeoff identified as a trade of women yet it appears that boys use it too.

Also, if we were looking at stereotypes then we would see that women are supposed to be bitchy so just by the nature of the conversation, we may just assume it is a bunch of girls when in fact they are boys.

She goes on disproving assumption, stereotypes and Robin Lakeoff e.g. she says how women according to Lakeoff should use intensifiers when yet this group of boys are. So none of these features can actual reveal the sex of the person except in the two situations mentioned above.

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