Gender Differences In Language Analysis

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Theoretical Background A variety of theoretical approaches to the study of language and gender have developed to account for gender differences in language use. However, interpretation of speech differences between men and women is associated with two main approaches: dominance approach and difference approach. The dominance approach is proposed by researchers such as Lakoff (1975), Spender (1980), and Zimmerman and West (1975). This approach claimed that gender differences in speech are the consequence of unequal distribution of power and status in society. The central focus of this model is male dominance and gender discrimination, viewing women as oppressed and minority group. It also suggests the influence of social structures in the…show more content…
Tanen (1990) pointed out that language feature such as indirectness of female speech does not reflect powerlessness or a lower status in a society, yet it can be used either by the powerful or the powerless. Besides, the same feature can be interpreted variously. For instance, whereas silence is commonly interpreted as a sign of powerlessness, silence by choice tends to signify power (Tannen, 1993). The difference approach, commonly known as ‘two-culture’ model, draws on cross-cultural studies to explain different use of language between males and females. Tannen’s book (1990) entitled ‘You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation’ is very well-known and most influential book proposing the difference approach. According to this approach, men and women belong to different subcultures. Even if they live in the same environment, they develop different social relations at an early age, as they belong to a different group and culture. Hence they use different styles of language (Nemati & Bayer,…show more content…
Now they are more likely to work outside their home and get even good and well paid job. This can be reflected that the existence of male dominance and gender discrimination seems to be reduced. Thus the use of powerless and powerful speech by women and men can be disputable. Talbot (1998) supported that men and women do not consistently use language as the dominance theory has proposed but indeed according to situations. More importantly, all men are not in position to dominate all women. Talbot (1998) also suggested that the patterns of dominance may “vary across different cultures and in different contexts within cultures” (p.134). It is generally accepted, however, that people are socialized to acquire values, norms, and customs and even gender roles established by their society. In terms of gender, they are taught to behave and speak respecting their gender roles. The different use of language between women and men is underlay by this process. Difference approach is thus supported in this
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