Communicative speech acts within men and women. A comparative study in language and gender

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2014

18 Pages, Grade: 30



This paper investigates the vibrant area in the observed application of language and gender in our speech communities highlighting the comparative differences which have crystallized communicative speech acts within men and women. The qualitative data was achieved through questionnaire survey. The sample of the study consisted of 50 males and females which they were selected randomly. The collected data was analysed using SPSS program. The findings of the study revealed that, language and gender is a common phenomenon in various communities highlighting interesting differences in communication behaviours between men and women, spotting the relationship between language and our perspective about men and women and withstanding commonly articulated views on language and gender. This study recommends that similar investigations and studies be conducted serving as a point of departure towards further investigation and studies on language and gender.

Key-words: gender, language, communication differences.

1. Introduction

In different speech communities, certain variations among males and females occur in the use of the language in accordance to social variations and factors. The variety of speech which is related to specific gender, social norms and variations in the use of language among men and women is called language and gender, (Robin Lakoff's 1975), which is a sociolinguistic phenomena that was observed in interpersonal communication between males and females in the use of the language in particular gender. Language and gender defines gender within a couple key perspectives. First, gender is a component of social relationships usually loosely connected to perceived variations among the sexes. Gender relate to linguistic and symbolic representations, normative connotations, social communicative acts, education and social identities. Second, gender is a principal public square for enunciating ability, overlapping in complicated ways with axes of divergences, such as social class, sexuality. Gender is perceived as multi-faceted, always changing, and usually refuted.

Language and gender is a matter of allotment based on social factors, obligations, constraints and freedom, language and gender cannot be taken apart from aspects of life, customs and the fact that males and females intend to learn ways of being and ways of actions that we choose to do in certain social environments, without even thinking of the reasons why behind such speech acts. we simply learn ways of being and ways of doing things without considering any reasons behind them. We can however notice the differences found in traditions and cultural norms such as proverbs all around the world differentiating men and women‟s language in which those sayings captured these folklinguistic perspectives, often indicating disparagingly to women‟s speech. Some of them in which have come out of use e.g. „A woman‟s tongue wags like a lamb‟s tail‟ (English saying) and „Three women make a market‟ (Sudani saying).

The common perception language and gender had come into existence approximately for centuries before „gender and language‟ used to be counted worthy of study. I am referring in this paper both to the actions and speech behaviours of how women and men should speak as well as to the „folk-linguistic‟ perception about how they actually do in a way that is apparently different.

Angela Goddard, 2000‟ argues, when we acquire language, we acquire ways of thinking conceptual systems or grids-which we don‟t notice consciously because they just feel natural to us. Mary Talbot (1998, 11) adds, in dealing with learned kinds of activity, such as linguistic interaction, we can only speak with any certainty about gendered behaviour, linguistic interaction in communication among men and women is a behaviour that has been learnt. It‟s a bit like viewing the world through a particular pair of spectacles that we‟ve got used to wearing. And these spectacles are out culture. Some speakers - bilingual language users, for example-have more than one pair of spectacles and here, speakers readily attest to the fact that they think differently when they use their different languages. It is a matter of the world around us and the language we use in language and gender.

People have different norms of communicating with each other. The norms of communicating and styles depend on a variety of things, whereas we belong to, a matter of how and where we have been brought up, depend on the educational factor, our age and of course on our gender. In fact, males and females communicate differently in spite of the fact that there are distinguishing degrees of masculine and feminine speech properties in every one of us. But men and women actually speak with variety of ways which is a fact related to their gender, the variations among men and women can be referred to the perspective of „debate against relate‟ rapport style against raport‟ in distinguishing communication goals, Lakoff (1975) argues that men tend to use a „raport style‟ aiming to communicate factual information, whereas women more often use a „rapport style‟. Which is more concerned with building and maintaining relationships. Men usually look for straight up solutions to problems and viewing interest and empathy in order to strengthen relationships.

Language and gender is one of the most debatable issues which we argue often about. We are living in a gender based traditions society since gender is considered thoroughly in our actions, our speech variations and our nature and desires, as talking about this issue it appears to us so natural and it just happens, all those ideas about gender and the language in-use, the variations and interactions in speech got in various fields from humanities into psycholinguistics to scientific trying to understand the nature and ways in manifesting the use of language in accordance to gender. this can be viewed from the perspective of the concern and differences in the way, norms and styles men and women use the language in certain situations and with different trends and dimensions. Language and gender can be highlighted with the differences in social class, age, sex, style, and speech community, those were mostly the essential issues over language and gender in determining the trend gender is socially constructed, it is acquired and learned, people learn characteristics. Gender is not something we are born with, and not something we have, but something we do - something we perform (Butler 1990). E.g. men tend to use euphemism and candied words when talking to women like „nice‟. euphemism intends to amuse, while others intend to give positive appearances to negative events or even mislead entirely. Furthermore, we are driven to say, “Mr. and Mrs. Jones” - not “Mrs. and Mr. Jones”; and “husband and wife” - not “wife and husband as this is the way the convention goes and this is how also we can find variations among language and gender in male female speech that some conventions and constraints rule out other gender‟s speech style because there can be supremacy and domination attained by other gender in the way language is used and in certain social conventions and internments. For instance male are seen as having supremacy and dominance in their speech which sometimes make female language seen as subordinate to men‟s speech. Other variations are speech rate, rate of questions, turn taking and the use of minimal responses. This is common in all societies and speech communities and is often seen as a mark of highlighting particular gender‟s language, marking the differences in men and women‟s speech and behavioural communication actions.

The language which is related to gender is not something we are born with but something we also acquire and perform. Furthermore, gender variation accounts in habits which can be also related to psychological traits. Imagine a small kid happily following his father‟s actions when shaving, he would be doing everything he can to be like his father to be a just like him or for a natural endowment in male gender „to be like a man‟. the boy is creating a persona that embodies what he is admiring in his adult male role model. The same is applicable when it comes to a small girl when she puts on her mother‟s high- heeled shoes, put makeup on her face happily trying to be just like her mother. When they are grown ups those childhood behaviours and performances may be clear in their adult male and female behaviours. In other words, gender actions and speech are available to everyone and this is where differentiations come together as we try to fit up ways of with biologically gender based behaviours. „Penelope Eckert,2003,10‟

2. The objectives of the study:

In relation to the following research questions, this research aims at achieving the following objectives:

I. to highlight the comparative differences which have crystallized communicative speech acts within men and women.
II. to supply up-to-date and reflective picture of language and gender for students and researchers in a variety range of discipline
III. to observe data and case studies in the interactions within different speech acts and communication behaviours in gender in social contexts.
IV. to draw distinction lines behind the reasons why particular gender use specific speech (reasoning why men and women talk this way).

3. The research questions:

In order to accomplish the objectives of this research study, this paper addresses the following questions:

1. do speech behaviours related to language and gender really widely vary between men and women?
2. to what extent can we observe the differences in communicative acts in relation to gender?
3. what are the roles culture, education, traditions and biology/psychology play in determining those differences in speech between men and women.
4. to get you thinking about the lines drawn between the language we use and the culture around us.

4. Review of Literature

There have been a numerous number of Researchers in language and gender such as Lakoff (1975), Coats (1998) and others investigating the continuous concern in the ways in which language and gender effect the language use in communication among men and women and the variations in men and women speech. E.g. Lakoff (1975) viewed the perception of these differences by different theories for instance, the„Deficit‟ method is an approach established by Lakoff (1975) that introduces a 'women's language' as classified by linguistic trends in women's speech. This approach created a dichotomy between women's language and men's language. This triggered criticism to the approach in that highlighting issues in women's language treated men's language as the standard. As such, women's language was considered to have something inherently 'wrong' with it. (Retrieved from Wikipedia) Lakoff viewed the deficit model expressing women‟s language in conditions of inadequacies as a result of cultural subordination of women by men. According to her, language of women and their features pictured them as unsure, lacking submissive and authority as well as tentative.


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Communicative speech acts within men and women. A comparative study in language and gender
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Mohammad Abu Hmaid (Author)Dr. Mohammed Al Khawalda (Author), 2014, Communicative speech acts within men and women. A comparative study in language and gender, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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