Eng. 201 Writing Assignment #7 (Draft 1 of

Jerel Serrano
Professor McCormack
English 201-01
12 January 2015
Writing Assignment #7: Literature Review
The language theory of genderlect can be explained in many ways based on different aspects.
However, the theory is best described as “a term popularized by linguist Deborah Tannen to
represent dialects specific to gender and demystify traditional communication struggles between
the sexes of males and females” (Dolly, Galvin, & Pula, 2013). Other scholars may refer to
genderlect by its definition rather than theory, for which it is a term or style of speech used by a
particular gender. Deborah Tannen theorized the distinctions between how men and women
communicate. Whether it is student participation in a class discussion or a casual debate, men
tend to participate more than women. Men come out with confidence, egotism, and competition
against other speakers. Women on the other hand typically shy away from public discussions
unless they are talking to other people in a private setting. In today’s social environment, there
are common factors that can lead up to more domination acquired by men than women, such as
fear of public judgment and reluctance towards controlling the discussions at hand.
Genderlect can be summarized into one theory but its divided aspects make it ambiguous.
For example, Parkhurst focuses on how language is expressed by men and women through
literature. Presumably, women are comfortable with subjects like romance, intimacy, and
personal experiences while men are interested in competition, competence, and accomplishment.
In other words, men acquire the quality of “the reality principle”, which is “the ability for male
readers to see themselves and their concerns in a text” (Parkhurst, 2012). It has become apparent
that men want something to connect with their personal experiences and cogitations, but they
often tend to keep their feelings hidden in a public setting. This may explain why their language
can sometimes be defensive, conceited, or impersonal.
According to Women’s Studies, “the differences between the writing of male and female
modernists can be analyzed without resorting to the pervasive dichotomy between the personal
writing of women and impersonal writing of men” (Wexler, 1996). Wexler’s article analyzes the
written language of women as having a more personal voice where men are more impersonal.
However, “learning to be male or female in our society means among other things learning to use
sex-appropriate language” (Coates, 1996). The personality an impersonality of one’s rhetoric
depends on the subject being discussed. How personal or impersonal a language is conveyed
depends on its use by males and females.