Do Men and Women Speak Differently?


Throughout many theorists have stated and agreed with the view that men and women talk ‘inherently’ differently. Men and women talk differently as both genders use different ways of speaking and expressing their views. However some theories have shown that the difference between men and women’s language isn’t significantly different at all. The view of men and women speaking ‘inherently’ different is hard to justify as they do speak differently in some ways but naturally they don’t speak that different.

Within the deficit model, Jespersen and Lakoff have both concluded that men and women speak ‘inherently’ different and they express and use the language in dissimilar ways. Jespersen’s theory states that women use adjectives such as ‘pretty’ and ‘nice’ too much whereas men don’t which conveys that men and women do speak differently. He then went on to suggest that women link sentences with ‘and’ because hey are emotional whereas men are seen as grammatical, he also suggested that women ‘shrank from coarse and gross expectations’ which then reinforces that women don’t use the coarse language within their use of language whereas men do. Furthermore Lakoff also suggested that women avoid slang or coarse language and avoid making coarse language and this links to Tannen’s theory of ‘conflict vs compromise’ as men prefer to be dominant and use the coarse language within their speech whereas women would rather compromise and find a way around it than use the coarse language and make aggressive threats. Lakoff also suggests women use tag questions within their style of speech and this links to Holmes’ study of tag questions and their use and also Fishman’s theory of women using the tag questions within the conversation for it to flow. In addition, Lakoff then suggests that women use indirect commands again linking to Tannen and her suggestion of ‘orders vs proposals’, Lakoff also states that women use euphemisms and hedges more than men and this is seen in a way to soften what they are saying. However, the reliability of these theories isn’t strong at all because both Jespersen and Lakoff didn’t conduct any research, Jespersen based his study and research on fiction and Lakoff generalised the genders within his findings. However both these theories suggest that women and men do speak inherently differently as they use different language when speaking.

In addition, the dominance model and some theorists within this model also suggest men and women speak differently. Firstly,  Zimmerman and West conducted a study on 31 segments of conversation and counted the interruptions of both genders. They concluded that men interrupt more than women as they interrupted 46 times and women only twice so they suggested men and women’s language is different as men are more dominant in the conversation. However, Beattie challenged this and then went on to conduct a study also on interruptions but he concluded that men and women’s language isn’t ‘inherently’ different as the difference between their interruptions weren’t significant at all as men interrupted 34.1 and women 33.8. Leading on from both of these theories the reliability again isn’t strong as both their studies didn’t have diversity as all participants were white and middle class and also they didn’t count interruptions between same sex conversations. Then Holmes conducted a study on the tag questions used by the genders and her study found that there are three different types of tag questions referential, facilitative an softening and her findings suggested that both genders use the tag questions and the difference between the amount of times isn’t significantly different which contradicts Lakoff’s suggestion. This theory also suggests that men and women's use of language isn’t ‘inherently’ different as naturally they both use similar styles of speech also shown by Pennebaker in the difference model as she concluded that the amount of words spoken by men and women isn’t significantly different.  However Fishman then went on to study Tag questions and she suggested that women use more of the tag questions within the conversation because they do the ‘conversational shitwork’. She disagreed with Lakoff’ suggestion of tag questions showing uncertainty and she stated that it showed dominance within the conversation which contradicts Spender's theory of men controlling the language and using it in their favour. This theory reinforces the view that men and women’s language is ‘inherently’ different as women are seen as doing the work in the conversation.

Furthermore, within the difference model Tannen went on to conclude that men and women’s language is ‘inherently’ different as naturally men prefer the dominance. This is seen as she suggested that ‘status vs support’ so men like having the power linking to Spenders theory of men controlling the language whereas women enjoy building a rapport and help, also ‘independence vs intimacy’ so men like to do stuff on their own whereas women make the connections around them.  Also men’s language is ‘information vs feelings’ so men’s language involves facts and statistics whereas women’s is more opinion based further implying that men and women do speak naturally differently. She also stated ‘conflict vs compromise’ so men won't avoid the aggressive and coarse language whereas women will which is also suggested by Jespersen and Lakoff, also within these suggestions Tannen puts the male way of speaking first which further implies spenders theory of the  patriarchal society. Furthermore, Talbot then suggested ‘rapport vs report’ and the rapport talk suggests women talk too much, women build relationships linking to the intimacies and they also speak symmetrically. Then men report talking so they get more time to speak as it’s the ‘norm’, they speak one at a time and they speak asymmetrically. Both these theories suggest an reinforce the view of men and women speaking ‘inherently’ different as they both use different styles of language. However in the difference model the theorists suggest that the more we speak about the differences between the language choices of men and women the more of a problem we are making. Then linking to Hyde's suggestion of the ‘gender similarities hypothesis’ and that naturally there are more similarities with the language of both genders which fully contradicts the view of men and women’s language being ‘inherently’ different.

Overall women’s language and men’s isn’t ‘inherently’ different as the language they use naturally is very similar and the differences between them aren’t significant at all. There are differences between the language choices they used for example men are seen as more dominant within conversations but that’s down to the stereotypes and generalisation so the natural difference isn’t significant.

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