Language and Gender

Transcription

Language and Gender
Prof. Penelope Eckert
Language and Gender
Tielke Vogt, Hauptstudium, LN
Svenja Follmann, Hauptstudium, LN
Julia Selzer, Grundstudium, TN
Meike Tadken, Grundstudium, LN
Judith Mertens, Hauptstudium, TN
Sonja Schröder, Grundstudium, TN
Prof. Sally McConnell-Ginet
Contents
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Constructing gender (Tielke)
Linking the linguistic to the social (Svenja)
Organizing talk (Julia)
Making social moves (Meike)
Positioning ideas and subjects (Judith)
Working the market: use of varieties (Sonja)
Constructing gender
- Introduction
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The study of language and gender got started as a
result to an article by Robin Lakoff entitled
“Language and woman’s place”
 Difference approach
 Dominance approach
Later: consideration of context
 What is the nature of the diversity among men
and among women?
 How do these diversities structure gender?
Constructing gender
- Sex vs. Gender
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Sex: biological categorization based primarily on
reproductive potential
Gender: social elaboration of biological sex –
gender as social construction
Constructing gender
- Learning to be gendered (1)
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Dichotomous beginnings: It’s a boy! It’s a girl
 By the (different) treatment and expectations
from others children learn to adapt to their
gender role – a child learns to be male or female
Learning asymmetry
 Males are more engaged in enforcing gender
difference than females
 Result: behaviour and activities of boys are more
valued than that of girls, and boys are
discouraged from having interest in girl’s
behaviour or activities
 Tomboy vs. Sissy
Constructing gender
- Learning to be gendered (2)

The heterosexual market
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End of elementary school: beginning of a social market
structured system of social evaluation
Matches are initially short lived – the number of “trades”
(with the “right” Partner) establishing one’s value
This activity precedes actual sexual activity
Developing desire
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Gender: conscious element of desire
Girls: want to feel small and delicate, learn to display
their emotions to others at the appropriate time
Boys: want to feel big and strong, learn to control their
emotions
Constructing gender
- Conclusion
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Gender is learned
 It is not only learned but taught and enforced
Gender is collaborative
 We can not accomplish on our own
Gender is not something we have, but something
we do
 Children often do gender quite consciously, later
their gendered performances become second
nature
Gender is asymmetrical
 Inequality is built into gender at a very basic level
Linking the linguistic to the social
- Introduction (1)
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Dominant ideology and linguistic conventions are
not static
They are rather constructed, maintained,
elaborated, and changed in action and talk
Change happens in the accumulation of action
throughout the social fabric
 e.g. “Sir“ – not female aquivalent
Linking the linguistic to the social
- Introduction (2)

Embedded in history are not only the things said
and done, but also:
 identities and status of the people who have said
and done them
 Individual act enters into a broader discourse
 Our contributions can be seen as an offer to a
market
Linking the linguistic to the social
- Social locus of change
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Change comes in subtle ways
Gender order and linguistic conventions exercise a
constraint on our thoughts and actions
Change = interruption of patterns
Change can be intentional or unintentional
We perform gender in our minutest acts
 Accumulation of those acts leads to maintaining
gender order
Linking the linguistic to the social
- The speech community
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Def.: a community sharing rules for the conduct and
interpretation of speech, and rules for the
interpretation of at least one linguistic variety
Speaker of the same language may have difficulty
communicating if they do not share norms for the
use of that language in interaction
 e.g. English and Pakistani speakers of English in
London
Linking the linguistic to the social
- Communities of practice
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Participants develop ways of doing things together
They develop practices: common knowledge and
beliefs, ways of relating to each other, way of talking
within communities of practice linguistic may spread
within and among speech communities
People participate in society through participating in
a range of communities of practice
Linking the linguistic to the social
- Face
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Def.: the positive social value a person effectively
claims for himself by the line others he has taken
during a particular contact
Everyday conversational exchanges are crucial in
constructing gender identities as well as gender
ideologies and relations
Face can be “lost” and “saved”
Link to gender order: desire to avoid face-threating
situations or acts
Linking the linguistic to the social
- Linguistic resources

Language = highly structured system of signs
 Gender embedded in these signs:
 Primary: gender can be content of a sign
 Secondary: associated meaning
 The way someone talks: tone and pitch of
voice, patterns of intonation, choice of
vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammatical
patterns
Linking the linguistic to the social
- Phonology
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Phoneme /s/
In North America generally pronounced with tip of
tongue at the alveolar ridge behind the upper teeth
A pronunciation against the edge of the front teeth
(slight lisp) is stereotypically associated with women
or gays
Linking the linguistic to the social
- Gender in grammar (1)
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Some languages force the speaker to specify
gender
 e.g. English: third person pronoun
Grammatical gender: when a language has noun
classes that are relevant for certain kinds of
agreement patterns
 In many Indo-European languages grammatical
gender has complex connections to social
gender
 BUT: no perfect correspondence
Linking the linguistic to the social
- Gender in grammar (2)

Especially problematic when referring to nouns wih
a pronoun
 e.g. “le professeur” can refer to a woman, even if
it is a masculine form, but one tends to switch to
a feminine pronoun (elle)
 In English, cats are usually referred to as “she”
and dogs as “he”
 Speakers assign masculine respectively feminine
attributes according to grammatical gender
Organizing talk
- Introduction (1)
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Men are encouraged to talk on all occasions,
speaking being a sign of masculine intelligence and
leadership
The ideal woman is submissive and quiet, silent in
her husband‘s presence
 e.g. Araucanian culture of Chile: at gatherings
men do much talking, women sit together
listlessly, communicating only in whispers or not
at all
Organizing talk
- Introduction (2)
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A person‘s contribution to an ongoing discussion is
determined not simply by the utterance the person
produces, but by the ways in which that utterance is
received and interpreted by the others in the
conservation
The right to speak depends on the right to be in the
situation, and the right to engage in particular kinds
of speech activities in that situation
Organizing talk
- Introduction (3)

Example:
Joking about men‘s impatience with discussing
relationships has already made it to the top among
discourses of gender, but joking about women‘s
impatience with babies has not
Organizing talk
- Men vs. Women
Men
 Most technology is
designed by men
 It is primarily men who
have the authority to
engage in conversation
that effect large
numbers of people
 Perform speech acts
that change people‘s
civil status
Women
 Women in medical
practice, schools,
social work, etc.
 Cannot be priests in
the Catholic Church,
but the Protestant
ministry is feminized
 No woman has ever
given a state of the
union address in the
US
Organizing talk
- Looking like a professor
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The words of a person who doesn‘t appear to be a
professor are less likely to be taken as authoritive
than the same words coming from someone who
does look like a professor
 Many men don‘t recognise women as professors
Many women wrote novels and poems under a
man‘s name in order to be published
 e.g. George Eliot - real name: Mary Ann Evans)
Organizing talk
- Speech activity
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Lecturing,sermonizing,gossiping,talking
dirty,joking,arguing,therapy talk,small talk,etc.
There are some speech activities that occur in all
speech communities, while others may be specific
to, or more common in , particular communities
Organizing talk
- Gossip vs. Arguing (1)
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Gossip derives from Old English god sib
( = supportive friend or godparent)
Gossip is supposed to characterize much of
women‘s talk
 Many people - esp. men - think that gossiping
means talking bad about others
BUT: just any informal talk among close women
friends
Organizing talk
- Gossip vs. Arguing (2)
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Arguing: in most English-speaking countries- men
argue, women quarrel or bicker (zanken)
Quarreling has a more personal orientation in
general and is seen as more emotional
Arguing is essentially focused in the subject matterinvolves giving reasons and evidence
In many Italian-speaking communities of practice
lively and loud arguments involving both women and
men are frequent
Making social moves
- Contents
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Speech act theory
Functions of talk and motives of talking: gender
oppositions
 Politeness
 Affective and instrumental talk
 Intimacy and autonomy, cooperativeness and
competitiveness
Speech acts embedded in social action
 What is a compliment?
 Evaluation of face work
 “Do they really mean it?” What’s the key?
Conclusion
Making social moves
- Introduction
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Social move = speech act which is embedded in
social practice, it is a continuing discourse among
interactants
Speech acts consist out of two parts: talk and action
Each utterance is part of a social situation in which it
occurs
Kinds of speech acts: compliment, insult, request,
command, promise etc.
A repeated move of a particular type can become an
activity
Making social moves
- Speech act theory
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Philosopher J. L. Austin initiated the systematic study
of speech acts
 The main question was: How to do things with
words?
Performative utterances: words starts a chain of
events
Judith Butler: speech acts consist out of performative
utterances and other performances which come off,
acquire their meaning and do their work
All utterances are actions
Three kinds of action:
 Locutionary acts
 Illocutionary acts
 Prelocutionary acts
Making social moves
- Politeness
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Everyone has got two faces: positive face and
negative face
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Two kinds of politeness:
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Positive face: projecting a self that is affiliated with
others
Negative face:projecting a self that is a separate
individual
Positive politeness: addressing positive face needs
Negative politeness:addressing negative face needs
Politeness depends on the context:
what looks like the same kind of act might be
positively polite in one context but not in another
Making social moves
- Affective and instrumental talk
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Three functions of talk:
 Affective function of talk
 Referential function of talk
 Instrumental function of talk
Affective and referential functions are closely
interconnected
Women are more interested in affective talk
Men are more interested in instrumental talk
Making social moves
- Intimacy vs. Autonomy/cooperativeness vs. competitiveness
Women
 Most interested in
promoting intimacy with
others
 Women speak in ways
that build egalitarian
societies
 In case of a struggle:
girls try to negotiate
and satisfy everyone
Men
 Are interested in
establishing their
autonomy
 Males engage in
speech acts that build
hierarchies
 In case of a struggle:
boys tends to engage
in physical tussles over
possession rights,
raising their voices etc.
Making social moves
- What is a compliment? (1)
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Compliments:
 Social moves that live in a landscape of
evaluation
 Have different functions and possible motivations
 Are loaded with cultural values
 Are associated with cultural norms
Criticism and insults inhabit the negative area of the
same landscape
A compliment must at least try to make the
addressee feel good about themselves
Making social moves
- What is a compliment? (2)
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What is regarded as a compliment depends on the
situation
Like other gifts a compliment can put the
complimentee in dept to the complimenter
Classifying a move as a compliment is a matter of
situating the move maker and the other participant in
a larger social landscape
Making social moves
- Evaluation of face work
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Evaluation of one another is central to social
interaction and to the construction and enforcement
of social norms
Receiving a compliment increases self-esteem and
warm feelings toward the complimenter
Compliments can flow down a socially asymmetric
relation between complimenter and complimentee
But compliments given up the hierarchy are often
classified as inappropriate
Compliments are important in constructing and
regulating the gender order
Making social moves
- “Do they really mean it?” What is the key?
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Compliments can be suspected on several
different grounds
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Compliments are often routine and formulaic
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Sarcastic compliments
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Deceptive compliments
People can have mixed motives
Making social moves
- Conclusion
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There are various kinds of speech acts
A conversation between interactants depends on
different influencing factors
Women are more polite than men because they are
more other orientated
Men are more interested in establishing their
autonomy
Social moves are not only in face-to-face
conversational interactions, they can also occur in
the mass media
Positioning ideas and subjects
- Contents
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Introduction
Women‘s language and gendered positioning
Showing deference or respect?
Addressing
Conclusion
Positioning ideas and subjects
- Introduction
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1.
2.
Positioning ideas and subjects
Discourse: What happens when we talk?
How do we “take positions“?
Two aspects of discourse positioning:
We position ourselves through meaningful content
Through the “role“ we take: pupil, judge, clown,
sympathetic friend, storyteller, etc.
Positioning ideas and subjects
- Women’s language and gendered positioning
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Robin Lakoff (American linguist) made experiments
in the early 1970s
Typical for women‘s language:
 Tag questions (e.g. It is terrible, isn‘t it?)
 Rising intonation on declaratives (e.g. Husband:
When will dinner be ready? Wife: Six o‘clock?
 The use of various kinds of hedges (“That‘s
kinda sad“ or “it‘s probably dinnertime“)
Positioning ideas and subjects
- Women’s language and gendered positioning
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Boosters or amplifiers (“I‘m so glad you‘re here“)
Indirection (saying something like: “ Well, I have got
a dentist appointment then“.)
Diminutives (e.g. panties)
Euphemism (going to the bathroom instead of pee
or piss)
powerless language
Positioning ideas and subjects
- Showing deference and respect
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Showing respect generally looks very much the
same as showing deference
Deference involves not only respect: it also implies
placing others‘ claims above one‘s own,
subordinating own‘s own rights to those of others
Ritual deference
 Question of position and also status
Positioning ideas and subjects
- Addressing (1)
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Sensitive indicators of how speakers are positioning
the addressees
Comparison: English vs. German
English:
 Sir, ma‘am, social titles like Dr., Mr. or Mrs.
assign high position and respect
 First name: indicates familarity, solidarity or that
you do not respect the other person
Positioning ideas and subjects
- Addressing (2)
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German:
 “du“ (singular) and “Sie“ (plural)
 “du“: more intimate, familiar or when you talk to
children
 “Sie“: shows respect
Several centuries ago: hierarchy was more
important
English had distinction, too: “thou“ (singular) and
“you“ (plural)
Positioning ideas and subjects
- Conclusion
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Positioning is a very important part of discourse
Differences between women and men
Differences because of age and social status as well
Question of respect
Working the Market: Use of varieties
- Contents
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Languages, dialects and varieties
The linguistic market
Language ideologies and linguistic varieties
Gender and the use of linguistic varieties
Whose speech is more standard?
Working the Market: Use of varieties
- Language, dialects and varieties
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Children learn a particular language with a
particular variety
Children, who have contact to different
communities might grow up speaking more than
one variety
Bilingualism: learning two languages with two
varieties not just grammatically, but strategically
Differences in dialects can be very subtle

Grammatical differences
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Phonological differences by which we
distinguish regional dialects
Working the Market: Use of varieties
- The linguistic market
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“Right” linguistic varieties can facilitate access to
positions and situations of societal power
“Wrong” linguistic varieties can block such access
Standard language is normally the language of
societal power also used at the global market
Locally based varieties are commonly referred to
as vernaculars and are used at the local market
Vernaculars may be distinct languages from the
standard or they may be alternative varieties of the
same language
Working the Market: Use of varieties
- Language, ideologies and linguistic varieties (1)
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Members of elite classes are and speak a more
global / standard language
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Is designed to unite diverse populations
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Is associated with rationality, stability and with
impersonal and formalized communications
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Symbolizes the objective knowledge from global
sources
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Is associated with refinement
One’s linguistic variety can enhance one’s chances
in economic life
Working the Market: Use of varieties
- Language, ideologies and linguistic varieties (2)

Local language represents membership and loyalty
to a local community
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Is associated with personal and affective
engagement
Knowledge and judgement function in a
different realm
Is associated with physical, practical
knowledge, roughness and toughness
Working the Market: Use of varieties
- Gender and the use of linguistic varieties
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Requires access to the communities in which the
variety is used and the right to use it
Being in the workplace may provide greater access
to certain varieties
Marriage opportunities may also play a role
Social networks may also lead to differential
linguistic patterns
Modernization tended to affect men´s work before it
affected women´s work
Different employment opportunities for women in
general
Working the Market: Use of varieties
- Whose speech is more standard?
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It is commonly claimed that women’s speech and
grammar is regularly more standard than men’s
Possibly the educational patterns put women more
in the standard language market than men
Men use reductions more often than women
Socio-economic difference is greater among women
than among men

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