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Gender and Age. Raung-fu Chung. The Differences between Sex and Gender. Sex - refers to categories distinguished by biological characteristics Gender - is more appropriate for distinguishing people on the basis of their socio-

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gender and age

Gender and Age

Raung-fu Chung

the differences between sex and gender
The Differences between Sex and Gender
  • Sex -refers to categories distinguished

by biological characteristics

  • Gender - is more appropriate for distinguishing

people on the basis of their socio-

cultural behavior, including speech.

gender exclusive speech differences i
Gender-exclusive speech differences I
  • Two situations:

A. Women and men speak difference languages in a community.

B. The language is shared by Women and men, but with some particular linguistic features.

gender exclusive speech differences ii
Gender-exclusive speech differences II
  • These linguistic features occur only in the small differences in

A. Pronunciation


(1) In Montana, Indian tribe.

bread men [kja'tsa] vs. women [dIa'tsa]

(2) In Bengali

men initial [f] vs. women-initial [l]

gender exclusive speech differences iii
Gender-exclusive speech differences III

B. Word-shape-Men and women use different


e.g. Yana men ba-na vs. women ba‘deer’

yaa-na vs. yaa ‘person’

C. Vocabulary-Men and women use different

vocabulary items.

e.g. Japanese men kuu vs. women taberu‘eat’

gender exclusive speech differences iv
Gender-exclusive speech differences IV

D. Pronoun-Some languages signal the gender of the speaker in the pronoun system.

e.g. Japanese

men ore vs. women atashi‘I’

boku twatashi


※ Conclusion-Gender-exclusive speech form reflect social status or power differences and gender-exclusive social roles.

gender preferential speech features
Gender-preferential speech features
  • Women and men do not use completely different forms. They use different quantities or frequencies of the same form.

e.g. English -ing [0H] vs. –in' [0n]

French [l] deletion

※ Conclusion

-Women tend to use more standard forms than men do, while men use more of the vernacular forms than women do.

gender and social class i
Gender and Social Class I
  • The linguistic features also distinguish the speech of people from different classes.
  • General patterns

-In every social status men use more vernacular forms than women.

gender and social class ii
Gender and Social Class II
  • Vernacular [0n] by sex and social group in Norwich.

Percentage [in] pronunciation

Social groups or classes


Explanations of women's linguistic behavior I

A. The social status explanation

-Women are more status-conscious than men. The way women speak signals their social class background or social statues in the community.

B. Woman's role as guardian of society's values

-Society tends to expect better behavior form women than men. Women are designated the role of modeling correct behavior in the community.

explanations of women s linguistic behavior ii
Explanations of women's linguistic behavior II

C. Subordinate groups must be polite

-People who subordinate must be polite. Women, as a subordinate group, must avoid offending men. So women speak carefully and politely.

D. Vernacular forms express machismo

-Men prefer vernacular forms because

they carry macho connotation of

masculinity and toughness.

explanations of women s linguistic behavior iii
Explanations of women's linguistic behavior III

E. Some alternative explanations

  • How are women categorized?

It’s possible for a woman to be better educated than the man she marries, or even to have a more prestigious job than him. When women are classified by their husband’s social group, miscategorisation is one plausible explanation of their speech behavior.

explanations of women s linguistic behavior iv
Explanations of women's linguistic behavior IV
  • The influence of the interviewer and the context

1. Women tend to be more cooperative conversationalists than men.

2. Men tend to be less responsive to the speech of others.

3. Many of the interviewers who collect the social dialect data discussed in the previous sections were male.

4. The interview context was different from women and men.


Age-graded features of speech I

A. The pitch of the voices

1. The pitch of women’s and men’s voice differences develop at puberty.

2. Exceptions: some women’s natural speaking pitch is deeper than that of some men.


Age-graded features of speech II

B. Swear word vocabulary

1. Generally speaking, teenagers use swear words more often.

2. Adult men restrict swearing largely to all-male settings.

3. Females reduce swearing in all settings as they move into adulthood.

C. Slang

Slang is the linguistic prerogative of young people.

age and social dialect data
Age and social dialect data
  • The frequency of vernacular forms in different age groups:

A. Child hood & adolescence

B. Middle age

C. Old age

  • Membership

A. Adolescents - high frequencies of vernacular forms.

B. Gang members – vernacular forms act as solidarity markers.

age grading and language change
Age grading and language change
  • Patterns of language change & Patterns of language use (speech patterns)

It would be possible to interpret the pattern of language use as evidence of linguistic change in progress.