San José State University Linguistics and Language Development Spring 2013 Linguistics 122:

San José State University
Linguistics and Language Development
Spring 2013
Linguistics 122:
English as a Global Language
Language and Gender
Bucholtz, Language, gender, and sexuality
Holmes, Women Talk Too Much
The Power of Talk:
Who gets heard and why?
 In the film ‘He Said, She Said,’ Deborah Tannen shows
gender differences in the ways we are socialized as
children affects our conversational styles as adults.
 What is ‘conversational ritual’ and what rituals are
 What are some conversational differences between men
& women mentioned in the film.
 Does your behavior correspond to Tannen’s
observations? How about your significant other’s?
Language, Gender, Sexuality
In her article, Bucholtz outlines the
development of the field(s) of research on
language, gender, and sexuality
In the process, she criticizes Tannen’s work
as exemplified in the film ‘He Said, She
Language, Gender, Sexuality –
The early years
Outgrowth of the Women’s Movement
(English) language seen as sexist
 sexist vocabulary (e.g., ‘mailman,’ etc.)
 He as an epicene pronoun
 Debate between prescriptivists & descriptivists
‘Women’s Language seen as manifestation of
Difference vs. Dominance –
The late 1970s-1980s
Celebration of ‘Women’s Language’ as
women’s own separate, cultural practice
Limitations: Assumed that
 All women adhered to the same practices
 Social behaviors of men and women are entirely
Discounted the role of male dominance in
Multicultural Feminism –
The late ’80s, 1990s
 Recognized that women of color didn’t adhere
to ‘Women’s Language’
 Black women’s signifying as private practice, as
opposed to men’s signifying as public ritual
 Mexican American women follow men in codeswitching
 Puerto Rican women’s linguistic repertoire
different from men’s
 Interactional styles not specific to a particular
gender, but to activities of speakers
Language and Sexuality –
The late ’90s, 21st C.
 Do lesbians and gay men each have a
recognizably distinctive speech style?
 ‘Just as the threat of danger led to the development of a
counterlanguage among African American, a similar indirect
speech style has developed in which lesbians and gay men
can identify themselves to one another without making
themselves vulnerable.’
 ‘Gay implicature’ – ‘traditional theories of
gender-based dominance must be revised to
account for men whose identities place them
outside the dominant group.
Language and identity –
A product of ‘speaker agency ‘
 The ability to use language strategically to achieve
goals despite constraints of cultural ideologies.
 Agency as practice – use of language (and other
social practices) to index oneself as belonging to a
social category
 As preppy, burnout, jock, etc.
 Agency as performance – deliberate enactment of
an identity that may not conform to the identity
assigned to the performer by others
 Black drag queens’ use of white women’s language
Women Talk Too Much
Proverbs and Sayings
“Nothing is unnatural as a talkative man
or a quiet woman” -Scottish
“Where there are women and geese
there’s noise” -Japanese
“The Tongue is the sword of a woman
and she never lets it become rusty”
The Question Presented
Do Women
talk too
The Evidence
Deborah James and Janice Drakich
reviewed 63 studies and found that
when men and women are together, it is
the men that talk the most.
Research in New Zealand also found
that men tend to speak more than
The Evidence
Another study explored women and men
in power and found that the men often
patronized the women and tended to
dominate meetings
“What Anne is trying to say is…”
The Evidence
Research shows that the patterns begin
early and are seen in the classroom
Concludes that the stereotype of a
woman reflects sexist prejudice rather
than objective reality
Looking Closer at the Purpose of Talk
Talk serves
functions in
Formal Public Talk
 Aimed at informing people or
persuading them to agree to a
particular point of view
 Often spoken by people who wish to
confirm or claim some degree of
public status
 Examples: politicians, public performers
Behavior in Formal Meetings
Research shows men dominate talking
time in committee meetings, staff
meetings, seminars, and task oriented
decision making groups
Men perceive participating in such contexts
as an activity that enhances their status,
and men seem more concerned with
asserting status and power.
Behavior in Private Contexts
Fewer differences between men and
women in talk time
Women are more willing to talk in a
relaxed social setting and tend to be more
agreeing and supportive and encourages
others to speak
Men contribute more information and
Social Confidence
If you know more about a particular
topic, you are generally more likely to
contribute more to the discussion then
someone who is not as familiar
Social Confidence
 A study compared the relative talk time
between spouses
 Men dominated in couples with traditional
gender roles
 Women tended to speak more if they were
associated with a feminist organization because
they were more likely to challenge traditional
gender roles
Social Confidence
 Concludes that expert
status and feminist
philosophy play a role
in social confidence
and talk time.
Perceptions and Implications
Why do boys contribute
more than girls in
classroom discussions?
Talking in class is
perceived as “showing
off” and girls prefer to
keep a low profile
Perceptions and Implications
If women talk at
all, this may be
perceived as “too
much” by men
who prefer them
to be silent
Do women talk more than men?
Depends on the social context in which
the talk is taking place, the kind of talk
involved, the relative social confidence
of the speakers, social and gender roles,
and their familiarity of the topic.
Generally men talk more than women in
formal ad public contexts where
informative and persuasive talk is highly
Generally women are more likely to
contribute in private, informal
Question 1: True of False
Q: women generally talk more in formal,
public context where informative and
persuasive talk is highly valued?
A: False: women are more likely to
contribute in private, informal
interactions, where talk more often
functions to maintain relationships.
Question 2: True of False
Q: Women tend to talk more with close
friends and family, when women are in
the majority, and also when they are
explicitly invited to talk
A: True
Question 3: True of False
Q: women are more likely to ask
questions and make comments when
the topic was one they find challenging
and are uncertain of?
A: False: they are most willing when
they can claim expert knowledge
about the subject.
Question 4: chose the correct
 Q: Why do girls in school tend to contribute
less than boys?
 A) Talking in class is perceived as “showing
 B) They are uninterested in the material
 C) Girls think that speaking up in class attracts
negative attention
A and C