Language and gender is an area of study within sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and related field that investigates varieties of speech associated with a particular gender, or social norms for such gendered language use. A variety of speech (or sociolect) associated with a particular gender is sometimes called a genderlect.
Wardhaugh (2002) stated that a major topic in sociolinguistics is the connection between structures, vocabularies, and ways of using particular languages and the social roles of men and women who speak the language.
Issues about gender and language have a long history but its status as fields of research developed alongside the second wave of feminism during the 1960s and 1970s (Weatherall, 2002). Based on these issues, this article will explain; the term sex and gender, dominance and difference, gender and speech style, speech practices associated with gender, and cross gender conversation.

Sex is a biological condition which defined as a set of physical characteristics. However, Gender is a social construct (within the fields of cultural and gender studies, and the social sciences. Kaminer (1998) stated that general usage of the term gender began in the late 1960s and 1970s, increasingly appearing in the professional literature of the social sciences. The term helps in distinguishing those aspects of life that were more easily attributed or understood to be of social rather than biological origin. According to Aristotle, the Greek philosopher Protagoras used the terms masculine, feminine, and neuter to classify nouns, introducing the concept of grammatical gender.
Wardhaugh (2002) further stated that sex is a very large extent biologically determined whereas gender is a social construct involving the whole gamut of genetic, psychological, social, and cultural differences between males and females.
While, Camereon in Wardaugh (2002) also stated that Men and women are members of cultures in which a large amount of discourse about gender is constantly circulating. They do not only learn , and then mechanically reproduce, ways of speaking ‘appropriate’ to their own sex; they learn a much broader set of gendered meanings that attach in rather complex ways to different ways of speaking, and they produce their own behavior in the light of these meaning.

Studies of language and gender often make use of two models or paradigms - that of dominance and that of difference. The first is associated with Dale Spender, Pamela Fishman, Don Zimmerman and Candace West, while the second is associated with Deborah Tannen.
1. Dominance theory
This is the theory that in mixed-sex conversations men are more likely to interrupt than women. It uses a fairly old study of a small sample of conversations, recorded by Don Zimmerman and Candace West at the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California in 1975. The subjects of the recording were white, middle class and under 35. Zimmerman and West produce in evidence 31 segments of conversation. They report that in 11 conversations between men and women, men used 46 interruptions, but women only two. As Geoffrey Beattie, of Sheffield University, points out (writing in New Scientist magazine in 1982): "The problem with this is that you might simply have one very voluble man in the study which has a disproportionate effect on the total." From their small (possibly unrepresentative) sample Zimmerman and West conclude that, since men interrupt more often, then they are dominating or attempting to do so.
Fortunately for the language student, there is no need closely to follow the very sophisticated philosophical and ethical arguments that Dale Spender erects on her interpretation of language. But it is reasonable to look closely at the sources of her evidence - such as the research of Zimmerman and West. Geoffrey Beattie claims to have recorded some 10 hours of tutorial discussion and some 557 interruptions (compared with 55 recorded by Zimmerman and West). Beattie found that women and men interrupted with more or less equal frequency (men 34.1, women 33.8) - so men did interrupt more, but by a margin so slight as not to be statistically significant.

2. Deborah Tannen and difference
Professor Tannen has summarized her book You Just Don't Understand in an article in which she represents male and female language use in a series of six contrasts. These are:
• Status vs. support
• Independence vs. intimacy
• Advice vs. understanding
• Information vs. feelings
• Orders vs. proposals
• Conflict vs. compromise
a) Status versus support
Men grow up in a world in which conversation is competitive - they seek to achieve the upper hand or to prevent others from dominating them. For women, however, talking is often a way to gain confirmation and support for their ideas. Men see the world as a place where people try to gain status and keep it. Women see the world as “a network of connections seeking support and consensus”.
b) Independence versus intimacy
Women often think in terms of closeness and support, and struggle to preserve intimacy. Men, concerned with status, tend to focus more on independence. These traits can lead women and men to starkly different views of the same situation. Professor Tannen gives the example of a woman who would check with her husband before inviting a guest to stay - because she likes telling friends that she has to check with him. The man, meanwhile, invites a friend without asking his wife first, because to tell the friend he must check amounts to a loss of status.
c) Advice versus understanding
Deborah Tannen claims that, too many men a complaint is a challenge to find a solution. For example; when a wife tells a husband that she doesn't feel well, her husband will invariably offers to take her to the doctor. Men are likely giving advice rather than giving sympathy to show his understanding. Invariably, the woman is disappointed with his reaction. Like many men, he is focused on what he can do, whereas women want sympathy.

d) Information versus feelings
A young man makes a brief phone call. His mother overhears it as a series of grunts. Later she asks him about it - it emerges that he has arranged to go to a specific place, where he will play football with various people and he has to take the ball. A young woman makes a phone call - it lasts half an hour or more. The mother asks about it - it emerges that she has been talking “you know” “about stuff”. The conversation has been mostly grooming-talk and comment on feelings.
Historically, men's concerns were seen as more important than those of women, but today this situation may be reversed so that the giving of information and brevity of speech are considered of less value than sharing of emotions and elaboration. From the viewpoint of the language student neither is better (or worse) in any absolute sense.
e) Orders versus proposals
Women often suggest that people do things in indirect ways - “let's”, “why don't we?” or “wouldn't it be good, if we...?” Men may use, and prefer to hear, a direct imperative.
f) Conflict versus compromise
“In trying to prevent fights,” writes Professor Tannen “some women refuse to oppose the will of others openly. But sometimes it's far more effective for a woman to assert herself, even at the risk of conflict. ” This situation is easily observed in work-situations where a management decision seems unattractive - men will often resist it vocally, while women may appear to accede, but complain subsequently. Of course, this is a broad generalization - and for every one of Deborah Tannen's oppositions, we will know of men and women who are exceptions to the norm.
Report talk and rapport talk
Deborah Tannen's distinction of information and feelings is also described as report talk (of men) and rapport talk (of women). The differences can be summarized in a table:
Women Men
• Talk too much
• Speak in private contexts
• Build relations
• Overlap
• Speak symmetrically • Get more air time
• Speak in public
• Negotiate status/avoid failure
• Speak one at a time
• Speak asymmetrically

1. Minimal responses
One of the ways in which the communicative behavior of men and women differ is in their use of minimal responses, i.e., paralinguistic features such as ‘mhm’ and ‘yeah’, which is behavior associated with collaborative language use. Men, on the other hand, generally use them less frequently and where they do, it is usually to show agreement, as Don Zimmerman and Candace West’s study of turn-taking in conversation indicates.
While the above can be true in some contexts and situations, studies that dichotomize the communicative behavior of men and women may run the risk of over-generalization. For example, "minimal responses appear "throughout streams of talk", such as "mm" or "yeah", not only function to display active listening and interest and are not always signs of "support work", as Fishman (1978) claims. They can - as more detailed analysis of minimal responses show -- signal understanding, demonstrate agreement, indicate skepticism or a critical attitude, demand clarification or show surprise". In other words, both male and female participants in a conversation can employ these minimal responses for interactive functions, rather than gender-specific functions.
2. Questions
Men and women differ in their use of questions in conversations. For men, a question is usually a genuine request for information whereas with women it can often be a rhetorical means of engaging the other’s conversational contribution or of acquiring attention from others conversationally involved, techniques associated with a collaborative approach to language use. Therefore women use questions more frequently. In writing, however, both genders use rhetorical questions as literary devices. For example, Mark Twain used them in "A War Prayer" to provoke the reader to question his actions and beliefs. Tag questions are frequently used to verify or confirm information; though in women’s language they may also be used to avoid making strong statements.
3. Turn-taking
As the work of Victoria De Francisco shows, female linguistic behavior characteristically encompasses a desire to take turns in conversation with others, which is opposed to men’s tendency towards centering on their own point or remaining silent when presented with such implicit offers of conversation.
4. Changing the topic of conversation
According to Bruce Dorval in his study of same-sex friend interaction, males tend to change subject more frequently than females. This difference may well be at the root of the conception that women chatter and talk too much, and may still trigger the same thinking in some males. In this way lowered estimation of women may arise. Incidentally, this andocentric attitude towards women as chatterers arguably arose from the idea that any female conversation was too much talking according to the patriarchal consideration of silence as a womanly virtue common to many cultures. Goodwin (1990) observes that girls and women link their utterances to previous speakers and develop each other topics, rather than introducing new topics. However, a study of young American couples and their interactions reveal that while women raise twice as many topics as men but it is the men's topics that are usually taken up and subsequently elaborated in the conversation.
5. Self-disclosure
Female tendencies toward self-disclosure, i.e., sharing their problems and experiences with others, often to offer sympathy, contrasts with male tendencies to non-self disclosure and professing advice or offering a solution when confronted with another’s problems.
6. Verbal aggression
Men tend to be more verbally aggressive in conversing, frequently using threats, profanities, yelling and name-calling. Women, on the whole, deem this to disrupt the flow of conversation and not as a means of upholding one’s hierarchical status in the conversation. Where women swear, it is usually to demonstrate to others what normal behavior is for them.
However, the correlation between males and verbal aggression may not apply across different societies and cultures. For examples, Kulick (1992) shows how this stereotype regarding verbal aggression is subverted in his study of two different speech genres in Gapun, Papua New Guinea. Women engage in kros, or "angry talk", which is typically characterized by vituperative and brazen displays of insults and shouting. Conversely, the men partake in men's house talk, which is focused on the down play of conflict in order to maintain - or at least give - the illusion of harmony.
7. Listening and attentiveness
It appears that women attach more weight than men to the importance of listening in conversation, with its connotations of power to the listener as confidant of the speaker. This attachment of import by women to listening is inferred by women’s normally lower rate of interruption — i.e., disrupting the flow of conversation with a topic unrelated to the previous one — and by their largely increased use of minimal responses in relation to men. Men, however, interrupt far more frequently with non-related topics, especially in the mixed sex setting and, far from rendering a female speaker's responses minimal, are apt to greet her conversational spotlights with silence, as the work of Victoria DeFrancisco demonstrates.
8. Dominance versus subjection
This, in turn, suggests a dichotomy between a male desire for conversational dominance – noted by Helena Leet-Pellegrini with reference to male experts speaking more verbosely than their female counterparts – and a female aspiration to group conversational participation. One corollary of this is, according to Jennifer Coates, that males are afforded more attention in the context of the classroom and that this can lead to their gaining more attention in scientific and technical subjects, which in turn can lead to their achieving better success in those areas, ultimately leading to their having more power in a technocratic society.

9. Politeness
Lakoff (1975) identified three forms of politeness: formal, deference, and camaraderie. Women's language is characterized by formal and deference politeness, whereas men’s language is exemplified by camaraderie.
Politeness in speech is described in terms of positive and negative face. Positive face refers to one's desire to be liked and admired, while negative face refers to one's wish to remain autonomous and not to suffer imposition. Both forms, according to Penelope Brown’s study of the Tzeltal language, are used more frequently by women whether in mixed or single-sex pairs, suggesting for Brown a greater sensitivity in women than have men to face the needs of others. In short, women are to all intents and purposes largely more polite than men. However, negative face politeness can be potentially viewed as weak language because of its associated hedges and tag questions, a view propounded by O’Barr and Atkins (1980) in their work on courtroom interaction.

Goddard and Patterson (2000) stated that the first linguist who wrote the differences about male and female language was Otto Japerson. His book entitled Language: its Nature, Development and Origin (1922) described men are seen as the norm and women as departing from that norm in various ways-as being deviant. He further explained that women are seen as having limited vocabularies: ‘the vocabulary of a woman as a rule is much less extensive than that of man’. They are also describes as being rather delicate, easily offended and oblique.
Lakoff in 1975 is one of feminist who gave critique to Japerson view. Her central point was that women were socialized into sounding like ‘ladies’ because woman has power as the man has.
Lakoff's writings have become the basis for much research on the subject of women's language. Her famous work, Language and Woman's Place, introduced to the field of sociolinguistics many ideas about women's language that are now commonplace. She proposed (Language and Woman's Place) that women's speech can be distinguished from that of men in a number of ways, including:

• Hedge: using phrases like “sort of”, “kind of”, “it seems like”, and so on.
• Use (super) polite forms: “Would you mind...”, “I'd appreciate it if...”, “...if you don't mind”.
• Use tag questions: “You're going to dinner, aren't you?”
• Speak in italics: intentional emphasis equal to underlining words - so, very, quite.
• Use empathy adjectives: divine, lovely, adorable, and so on
• Use hypercorrect grammar and pronunciation: English prestige grammar and clear enunciation.
• Use direct quotation: men paraphrase more often.
• Have a special lexicon: women use more words for things like colors, men for sports.
• Use question intonation in declarative statements: women make declarative statements into questions by raising the pitch of their voice at the end of a statement, expressing uncertainty. For example, “What school do you attend? Eton College?”
• Use “wh-” imperatives: (such as, “Why don't you open the door?”)
• Speak less frequently
• Overuse qualifiers: (for example, “I think that...”)
• Apologize more: (for instance, “I'm sorry, but I think that...”)
• Use modal constructions: (such as can, would, should, ought - “Should we turn up the heat?”)
• Avoid coarse language or expletives
• Use indirect commands and requests: (for example, “My, isn't it cold in here?” - really a request to turn the heat on or close a window)
• Use more intensifiers: especially so and very (for instance, “I am so glad you came!”)
• Lack a sense of humor: women do not tell jokes well and often don't understand the punch line of jokes.


When we turn to matters having to do with how men and women use language in a wider sense, the possible explanation of these differences is in social interaction in conversations involving both men and women many researchers agree that men speak more than woman do. One also found that when men talked to men, the content categories of such talk focused on competition and teasing, sports, aggression, and doing things. On the other hand, when woman talked to women, the equivalent categories were the self, feelings, affiliation with others, home and family. Wardaugh (2002: 322) stated that when the two genders interacted, men tended to take the initiative in conversation, but there seem to be a desire to achieve some kind of accommodation so far as topics were concerned: the men spoke less aggressively and competitively and the women reduce their amount of talk about home and family.
Women are expected to use and do use talk to a greater extent than men to serve the function of establishing and maintaining personal relationships (this is not surprising, as the responsibility for the interpersonal relationships primarily rests with women); for example women, to a greater extent than men, are expected to talk, and do talk, simply in order to keep the interaction flowing smoothly and to show goodwill toward others, and they are expected to talk, and do talk, about personal feelings and other socioemotional matters relevant to interpersonal relationships to a greater extent than men. What is particular important in female friendships is the sharing of intimate feelings and confidences through talk, whereas in male friendship the sharing of activities is more important.
Another interesting claim is that in cross-gender conversations men frequently interrupt women but women much less frequently interrupt men (Zimmerman and west, 1975 in Wardaugh, 2002). They further stated that there are three claims of interest that must be seen in analyzing cross-gender conversation. The first claim is that men and women are biologically different and that this difference has serious consequences for gender. Women are somehow predisposed psychologically to be involved with one another and to be supportive and non-competitive. While, men are innately predisposed to independence. The second claim is that social organization is the best perceived as some kind of hierarchical set of power relationship. Language behavior reflects the social dominance of men. And the third claim is men and women are social being who have learned to act in certain ways. Language behavior is largely learned behavior. As society subjects, men and women have different life experiences.

Gender and sex are different. Sex refers to biological characteristics, and gender is a term to classify nouns such as masculine, feminine, and neuter to introduce the concept of grammatical.
There are two paradigms in studying gender. They are dominance and difference. In this case, dominance is the theory in which men are more likely to interrupt than women. However, according Tannen there are six contrast between male and female language; status vs support, independence vs intimacy, advice vs understanding, information vs feeling, orders vs proposals, and conflict vs compromise.
In communication, women and men are used different languages. The differences can be seen from their speech style, their speech practice and cross gender conversation. Lakof in her book entitled “Language and Woman’s Place” proposed some differences between women and men speech style. The differences includes hedge, use of polite form, tag question, and soon. The points focus in the topic of conversation, self disclosure, verbal aggression, listen and attentiveness, dominance vs subjection and politeness. Men and women are also different in their conversation. It will be different based on the topic they are discussed. Women tend to discuss about home and family. However, men like to discuss about sports, politics, competition and teasing.

……….Language and Gender. http://semantics.uchicago.edu/kennedy/classes/sum07/myths/myths4-gender.pdf

………Language and Gender. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language and Gender

Goddard, A and Patterson,L. 2000. Language and Gender.London: Routledge Inc

Lakoff,R .1975. Language and Woman Place. New York: Harper and Row

Wardaugh,Ronald.1998. An introduction to Sociolinguistics. USA: Blackwell Publisher.Inc

Weatherall,Ann. 2002. Gender, Language, Discourse; USA: Routledge Inc.

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