San José State University Linguistics and Language Development Spring 2013 Linguistics 122: English as a Global Language Language and Gender Readings: 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 discussed? • 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 Said.’
Language, Gender, Sexuality – The early years • Outgrowth of the Women’s Movement (1970s) • (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 suppression
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 different • Discounted the role of male dominance in interaction
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 code-switching • 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
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 much?
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 women.
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 setting. • Concludes that the stereotype of a woman reflects sexist prejudice rather than objective reality
Looking Closer at the Purpose of Talk • Talk serves different functions in different contexts
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 opinions
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
Concludes that expert status and feminist philosophy play a role in social confidence and talk time. Social Confidence
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.
Conclusions • Generally men talk more than women in formal ad public contexts where informative and persuasive talk is highly valued • Generally women are more likely to contribute in private, informal interactions
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 answer • Q: Why do girls in school tend to contribute less than boys? • A) Talking in class is perceived as “showing off” • B) They are uninterested in the material • C) Girls think that speaking up in class attracts negative attention Answer: A and C