Language and Gender

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Language and Gender
Key Theories

Robin Lakoff
1975
Claimed that much of women's language lacked real authority when compared to men, and proposed a set of features that characterised women's language as deficient when compared to men's. •Believed Socialisation played an important role.

(Part of deficit approach)

Jenny Cheshire
1982
Research in Reading looking at language of teenagers.
Found that boys used more non-standard forms than girls. Believed to be because boys were members of ‘denser networks’ and thus their language converged towards the vernacular to show social solidarity.

O'Barr & Atkins
1980
Analysed language of the courtroom and agreed with Lakoff's findings but also found that men from lower class backgrounds used similar features of uncertain speech. •They Believed that uncertain speech patterns depend on power rather than gender and coined the term 'powerless language' rather than 'women's language' (Part of deficit approach)

Holmes
1992
Believed that tag questions function as a politeness device, to help maintain discussion rather than as a sign of uncertainty (Lakoff's theory). •Also suggested that women in same-sex groups used more compliments and hedgers a signs of support and solidarity. (Part of deficit approach)

Coates
1989
All female talk is cooperative, speakers help to negotiate and support each other's rights. These patterns are not found in mixed sex talk. (Part of difference approach)

Zimmerman & West
1975
Found in their set of data that 96% of all interruptions were made by men. They concluded that women had restricted linguistic freedom and men impose their dominant status. (Part of dominance approach)

Kuiper
1991
Found in all male talk between a rugby team, men used insults as a way of expressing solidarity and were less likely to feel the need to save face. (Part of difference approach)

Pilkington
1992
Women in same sex talk were more collaborative than men....
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