Deborah Tannen

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In Deborah Tannen’s essay “I’ll Explain It to You: Lecturing and Listening”, she asserts the belief that even though men and women speak the same structural language, their motivations for speech and conversational patterns are very different. In the earlier years of development, Tannen observes that girls use speech to find confirmation and establish intimacy, whereas boys use speech to assert their independence and attain social status. After transitioning to adulthood, women find themselves bored and constantly nodding as men lecture them. Tannen provides specific observations of gender communication that portrays women as passive reactors in a conversation and men as the dominant aggressors. For example, Tannen writes that men tend to lead the conversation while women tend to offer their opinions of agreement or disagreement. She also states that expertise does not guarantee a women center stage in a discussion as it would a man. In response to Tannen ideas, I find that there are no parallels to my experiences and her observations. Frequently I am the one to initiate and hold a conversation, as well as provide my opinion even when I am uncertain about its validity. I notice myself making the group, which includes men, laugh and therefore I establish myself in the conversation. In no way do Tannen’s observations of language according to gender reflect upon my speech tendencies. In order to observe the conversational patterns of men and women, they must first be introduced to one another. In Tannen’s observations, men tend to first introduce themselves and then continue by elaborating on themselves. When he is satisfied with his speech, he will then stop to inquire what the woman has to offer to the conversation. Drawing from personal experience, I find that I am the one who introduces myself and gets the conversation started. For instance, in the college social scene, people are thrust together and I find that I do not know many people. I once went up to...
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