Gender and Language

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Gender and Language: do men and women speak and use language differently? Does it matter if they do or do not? Why?

March 29th, 2012

Gender and Language: do men and women speak and use language differently? Does it matter if they do or do not? Why?

“Language, in the form of popular, educational, artistic and scientific literature, informal conversation and formal rhetoric, conveyed at first hand or with the aid of intervening media, is the repository of our shared wisdom (or lack of it) about the sexes. It is also the main vehicle whereby this wisdom is disseminated thoughout society.” (Smith, 1985) The language difference between men and women is not a recent discussed and researched topic, but rather a topic debated for decades by both genders with a different range of areas relating to it, which includes who speaks more, who is most likely to have the best grammar, who expresses themselves better, who expresses themselves more. A variety of books associated to gender and language were published in the past years from various authors showing what are the differences and effect of communication between men and women. The miscellaneous variety of differences is enormous, and not all of them are stated in this text. There may be such a variety in the language spoken by men and women in different cultures worldwide that there was even a concern about the Carib language spoken in the Lesser Antilles, where it was at a certain point believed that men and women spoke a completely different language. (Smith, 1985) This paper will discuss diverse points of views concerning the differences in language and some studies concerning these differences. There are two main processes that will be analyzed and further explained, the biological differences between genders and the social differences, and how they contribute to the differences in women and men’s language. First the paper will discuss the biological differences, leading to the social differences, which will end in a conclusion to whether it matters if men and women speak and use language differently and why.

Biological Difference

One of the reasons why men and women do no communicate in the same way is due to the biological aspects of a human being. So, in other words, it is part of human nature for men to differentiate from women even in their way of communicating or expressing themselves. Biological aspects like hormones or brains function may lead to different traits of communication within each gender. (Ely, R., Gleason, J.) The way the brains of each sex works is different and the part of the brain that is used different areas of communication is not the same as well. Another biological factor that affects the communication process has to do with male puberty as well as the larynx, which can be also called the voice box and is an organ located in the human neck, which as the name suggests, affects the voice. Each factor will be evaluated separately for a better understanding to how they contribute to the difference.


The part of the brain that has to do with language is located in the left hemisphere , at least for the majority of the population, 85%, for both right handed people and some left handed people as well. (Ely, R., Gleason, J.) Research has shown that the areas of the brain that associates with language works harder on women than men, and that each one uses different parts of the left side of the brain when performing language tasks. Data from brain damaged patients show that women undergo less injury of speech than men do in general, when the left side of the brain is traumatized, which suggests that women use both hemispheres of the brain more than men do when it comes to language. (Philips, Steele, and Tanz, 1988) Women`s brains have a bigger activation area in the language part than...
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