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genderlect


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In sociolinguistics, a speech variety or communication style particularly associated with one sex (a kind of dialect). Such styles are shaped by cultural factors: Robin Lakoff, an American linguist (b.1942) argues that they are a result of differences in male and female social roles. Speech differences are a key feature in gender stereotypes: as in the man of few words and the garrulous woman. The most widespread distinction with some basis in current social reality is between feminine expressivity and masculine instrumentality (seeexpressive communication; instrumental communication). In everyday face-to-face interaction, compared to men, women tend to be more relational than task-oriented (seerelational communication; task-oriented communication). Tannen identifies different values in conversational language: ‘status and independence’ in male language and ‘connection and intimacy’ in women's language. According to some theorists (such as Robin Lakoff), women's use of language tends to involve more verbal ‘fillers’, hedges, qualifiers, and politeness markers; being less definitive (‘perhaps…’); using more justifiers (‘because…’); asking more questions; agreeing more with conversational partners; not interrupting and not monopolizing topic choice. However, ultimately such differences are about relative power in societies rather than about innate differences between the sexes. Comparedialect; idiolect; sociolect.

Subjects: Media Studies.


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