Male conversations

Male (single sex) conversations

Can you guess who is speaking in this transcript? Analyse the dialogue below.

B:

Uh you know that really gay guy in our Age of Revolution class who sits in front of us? He wore shorts again, by the way, it’s like 42 degrees out he wore shorts again[laughter] it’s like a speedo, he wears a speedo to class he’s got incredibly skinny legs, you know

E:

You know like those shorts women volleyball players wear?  It’s like those it’s like French cut spandex

B:

You know what’s even more ridiculous? When you wear those shorts and like a parka on

C:

He’s either got some condition that he’s got to like have his legs exposed all the time or else he’s got really good legs

E:

He’s probably he’s he’s like he’s like at home combing his leg hairs

C:

He really likes his legs

B:

He doesn’t have any leg hair though

E:

He really likes his legs

A:

Very long very white and very skinny

B:

Yes and oh those ridiculous Reeboks that are always (indecipherable) and goofy white socks always striped tube socks

E:

He’s the antithesis of man

The point of reading this  transcript is that to any normal person they features and the nature of the transcript means that is appears to be a group of females However, actually this was a group of males. This research came from Deborah Cameron, who basically believed you can never know – males and females are very similar.

So what features did we find in this transcript?

 

  • Intensifiers ‘incredibly’
  • Fixed expressions ‘you know’
  • Filer ‘like’
  • Specialised vocabulary ‘French cut spandex’
  • Support 
  • Empty adjective ‘ridiculous’
  • Knowledge of female topic – apparel ‘Reeboks’
  • Initiation
  • Cooperative
  • Bitchiness 
  • Hedging ‘its like’
  • repetition ‘really likes his legs

 

 

Assumptions

Folklinguistics are attitudes and assumptions about language that have no real evidence to support them.

Activity – Can you match the assumption to the gender?

Below are 19 assumptions – separate them into which link to males and which link to females.

  1. Talk more
  2. Interrupt more
  3. Complain and nag
  4. Speak with more authority
  5. Ask more questions
  6. Give more commands
  7. Talk about sport more
  8. Dominate conversations
  9. Are hesitant
  10. Don’t talk about emotions
  11. Are more co-operative
  12. Are very competitive in conversation
  13. Support each other
  14. Are more polite
  15. Talk too much
  16. Insult each other frequently
  17. Talk about women and machines in the same way
  18. Are indecisive
  19. Swear more

Answers

  1. Talk more (F)
  2. Interrupt more (M)
  3. Complain and nag (F)
  4. Speak with more authority (M)
  5. Ask more questions (F)
  6. Give more commands (M)
  7. Talk about sport more (M)
  8. Dominate conversations (M)
  9. Are hesitant (F)
  10. Don’t talk about emotions (M)
  11. Are more co-operative (F) 
  12. Are very competitive in conversation (M)
  13. Support each other (F)
  14. Are more polite (F)
  15. Talk too much (F)
  16. Insult each other frequently (M)
  17. Talk about women and machines in the same way (M)
  18. Are indecisive (F)
  19. Swear more (M)

Some of my thoughts…

Assumptions are usually believed to be true by the average punter but when one starts to explore language in social contexts they begin to realise there is more to it and these are mere assumptions. We see this assumptions everywhere in our life making it hard to see to believe they are incorrect. For examples, movies either depict women with all these assumptions or with all the male attributes to create humour – the reality is not presented which is fair enough because they have money to make. However, we must remember these are assumptions, not the truth. Furthermore, there are a bunch of other factors which affect the way women speak.

It could be that because in the past we had male dominated society women were forced to follow social rules which altered the way they spoke, giving birth to these assumptions which are false because the 21st century is very different to lets say the 15th century.

 

Language and Gender: Summary of key linguists

Key Linguists 

Linguist

Their research/view…

Deborah Fishman

Women do the ‘conversational shitwork’. Even though she found that males speak for double the time females do in mixed-sex conversations

Robin Lakeoff

10 features of women’s language

Deborah Cameron

The myth between Mars and Venus – no difference between the sexes

Janet Holmes

Empirical research that there are more derogatory words and images towards females then males,

Julia Stanley

More words to describe men than women. She also found there were 26 words to describe male promiscuity (many of which were favorable e.g. ‘stud’) and 220 words to describe female promiscuity 

Zimmerman and west

Men interrupted 96% of the time and female 4%. They also found that fathers interrupted daughters more than sons

Jennifer Coates

Women are cooperative and negotiating towards other women but are competitive in mixed sex conversations

Jane Pilkington

Women use more positive politeness features and men are more rude.

Koenraad Kuiper

Examined a rugby team and saw that even with united interests men were not interested in saving face

Deborah Tannen

Cross-cultural communication’ men and women are so different.

Language & Gender: Female Conversations

Female (single sex) conversations

Aspects of female talk – Lakeoff 

Robin Lakeoff, 1975, identified 10 features of women’s language in a much challenged American study. I have copied them below; 

  1. They utilise hedges more e.g. ‘kind of’ ‘sort of’
  2. They use more polite forms e.g. ‘would you please’
  3. Use more tag questions ‘nice isn’t?’
  4. Use more peaking/intonational emphasis 
  5. They utilise more empty adjectives e.g. ‘sweet’ ‘cute’ ‘charming’
  6. They are hypercorrect with their grammar and pronunciation
  7. They lack a sense of humour
  8. Use more verbatim/direct quotations
  9. They have a more specialised vocabulary e.g. types of colours
  10. They use more high rise terminal (declarative statement used as question through intonation.)

Having evidence to back these points of Lakeoff is correct. However, this data was collated 35 years ago, with society changing every singly day, this data is aged. In the 21st century, I question whether women really lack a sense of humour. This is because to be understand and create humour one needs intelligence and the importance and quality of teaching to women within 35 years has increased. From this we can deduce that women’s sense of humour has probably increased. Nevertheless, these 10 points will help in backing up points in the exam.

Female Authority – in the workplace

Evidence from The Myth of Mars and Venus by Deborah Cameron: Female Authority – after research by Janet Holmes. Read example one.

Example One

Harriet:

Looks like there’s actually been a request for screendumps I know it was outside of the scope but people will be pretty worried about it

Clara:

no screendumps

Peg:

( sarcastically ) thank you Clara

Clara:

no screendumps

Matt:

we know we know you didn’t want them and we um er we’ve –

Clara:

that does not meet the criteria

Smithy:

so that’s a clear well maybe no

Clara:

it’s a no

Smithy:

it’s a no a royal no

How would you describe Clara’s management style here?  How does her language differ from stereotypical women’s language?

 

Her management style her is clear, forceful and assertive. Responses are not elaborated and she is not asking the questions. Her language differs from a stereotypical women’s language because is not talking too much or asking question or hedging and using politeness strategies. As I’ve said before stereotypes are wrong because the role of women have changed so their language has too this means that women migth start to sound like ‘the male stereotype’.

Read the transcript below:

Smithy:

how’s your Mum?

Clara:

sorry?

Smithy:

she broke her hip, didn’t she?

Clara:

my mother?  What are you talking about?

Ishmeen:

( laughing ) the queen mother

Clara:

oh ( putting on posh accent ) my husband and I are confident she’ll pull through.

What strategy has been put in place to deal with Clara’s management style?

To deal with Clara’s management style a humorous outlook is taken by the employees. They use a shared context to connect with her a put a lighter tone almost as if they were trying to escape from their professional roles. This part of the conversation changes from being transactional to interactional.

 

How does Clara herself cope with it?

 Clare allows the conversation to become interactive and copes with this strategy by being humorous too. She laughs it off and does not take this seriously.