The problem of gender linguistics
Гутарева Н. Ю. The problem of gender linguistics // Молодой ученый. 2015. №11. С. 1807-1809.
The author underlines that studies, which focuses on gender ― sociocultural construct associated with the individual attribution of certain qualities and standards of conduct based on his biological sex — a relatively new branch of human knowledge. Our task — to determine the role of gender linguistics studies in our everyday life. To achieve this goal the general theoretical methods used. The result of this study is to confirm the facts concerning the necessity and importance of analysis of scientific works of recent years indicates a growing interest in gender studies and their intense institutionalization and allows establishing the study of some fragments of the language system; the study of verbal communication is still in its initial stage. Conclusions of the article can serve as an offer for the study of the processes and characteristics of intercultural communication and interaction between the sexes.
Keywords:gender, culture, intercultural communication, socio-cultural approach, standards of personality, status, body language.
The relationship between language and gender has long been of interest within sociolinguistics and related disciplines. Early 20th century studies in linguistic anthropology looked at differences between women’s and men’s speech across a range of languages, in many cases identifying distinct female and male language forms. Gender linguistics is concerned with various aspects of the representation of gender in language. They can be divided into two categories: How the genders speak (or write), and how they are spoken (or written) about. Karin M. Eichhoff-Cyrus, editor of a volume on gender linguistics published by DUDEN, expresses the importance of the subject as follows: “ […] Language not only reflects reality, it also creates reality” (Karin M. Eichhoff-Cyrus, Vorwort. Mannheim: Dudenverlag, 7–8) [1. С. 215].
This article will deal with how the genders express themselves in spoken language. One of the earliest linguists who examined gender ways of speaking was the Dane Otto Jespersen, in his article The Woman (1990). His analysis dates from 1925 and is therefore to be interpreted with caution. Nevertheless, it serves as a useful starting point in this exploration of the study of gendered language and its ideologies and to a certain degree anticipates Cameron’s deficit framework [2. С. 186].
According to Jespersen, women’s speech is clearly deficient to men’s. Reasons for this value judgment could be that there was no adequate record of the speech of both genders produced in comparable situations or that his analysis is the result of pre-conceived stereotypes. What is clear, however, is that Jespersen’s article is extremely judgmental and it has been cited by many feminists to cover “a whole tradition of patronizing and sexist commentary by male linguists before feminism” [2. С. 98].
Linguists agree that the way we speak is gendered, and that women and men do talk differently from each other (see, for instance, Frederike Braun, 1997; Anja Gottburgsen, 1997; Ulrike Grässel, 1997; Robin Lakoff, 2004). The speech of men is usually considered the norm, and women’s speech to be deviant from the norm. An example of this can be seen in the frequently encountered stereotypical opinion that women talk a lot, but never that men talk little.
Linguists’ opinions differ as to the extent to which these distinctions exist. Also the interpretations as to why the differences exist are based on widely different theories. Three generally accepted approaches also referred to as frameworks, have been established for analyzing female speech; these can be explained broadly by concepts of deficit, dominance, and difference [3. С. 189].
The “deficit framework suggests that women’s ways of speaking are, whether by nature or nurture, deficient in comparison to men’s”. Robin Lakoff supports this view of gendered female language. Sometimes, women who feel that their way of speaking is deficient and that they lack something (e.g. credibility or power) due to their language usage go to classes offering such subjects as assertiveness training, which basically teach them to “talk like man”. In the documentary Venus Boyz, Diane Torr teaches aspiring drag kings how to talk, move and behave like males in order to gain respect, power and credibility. Like the assertiveness training for women, her course confirms the notion of the deficit framework: Women lack something that men have.
The “dominance framework suggests that women’s ways of speaking are less the result of their gender per se than of their subordinate position relative to men: the key variable is power”.In this case, female speech is an interlocutionary device signaling subordinance.
Finally, the “difference framework suggests that women’s ways of speaking reflect the social and linguistic norms of the specifically female subcultures in which most of us spend our formative years”. It was the anthropologists Maltz and Borker who originally created this framework. They compared sex differences of culture differences and in those two “cultures” boys and girls “learn to do different things with words in a conversation”. Proponents of this framework (e.g. Maltz and Borker, 1982 or Deborah Tannen, 1990) often base their research on data from interaction between and among same sex groups only. When criticized for ignoring the factor of dominance or power imbalance between the sexes, they claim that this factor may exist on the elocutionary level, but it is not intended by the speaker. Knowing that their research does not consider the interaction of mixed sex groups, it is not surprising that they do not find an intended dominant linguistic behavior of males over females. Sometimes it is not completely clear which of the frameworks a theory belongs to because they may interplay and cannot be seen as totally isolated from each other [4. С. 548–550].
In the most general terms, the study of gender in linguistics concerns two groups of problems.
1. Language and its reflection in gender. The purpose of this approach is to describe and explain how language is manifested in the presence of people of different sex (studied primarily nominative system, vocabulary, syntax, the category of gender, and so on.), which are attributed to assess men and women and in which semantic areas most notably, they are clearly expressed.
2. Speech and communicative behavior in general, men and women, where they emphasize the typical strategy and tactics, gender-specific choice of vocabulary units, how to achieve success in communication preferences in vocabulary, syntax and so on. The specificity of male and female speaking is the subject of scientific interest .
In the study of speech in general, there is communicative behavior and gender-sensitive. However, in recent years, its role is not considered as radical as it was initially. Gender is considered as one of the parameters by which to communicate the speaker's social identity is constructed. As a rule, it interacts with other parameters — status, age, social group, and so on. N. The science has not yet developed a unified concept of gender in the study of communication. One of the most famous works in this area was the work of Deborah Tannen, “You just do not understand me. Women and Men in Dialogue” .
The author analyzes the communication failure in the communication of men and women, and explains their different requirements of the society of men and women, as well as the specifics of socialization during childhood and adolescence, when communication takes place mainly in same-sex groups. Under the influence of these factors in men and women speech produced by different motives, different strategies and tactics of communication. Speech behavior of men, as a rule, has aim to achieve and maintain independence and high status. From a reconciled society expects women, concessions, emotionality. These differences are, according to the concept D. Tannen, differences in order to communicate and interpretation statements. The same statement can be interpreted from the perspective of the status or position of the maintenance relationship, solidarity and assistance. Uttering the same phrase, men and women can be guided by different motives and different ways to interpret the words of the interlocutor. For example, aid could be interpreted as an expression of solidarity and the strengthening of the relationship. But you can see in help and a hint that helps or demonstrates its superiority and tries to dominate the relationship. In addition, in every culture, there are traditions and rituals of communication are not the same for men and women. Thus, during the feast word is often given to men. It is unlikely that a woman will play as a toastmaster. In this regard, D. Tannen says genderlekte — socially and culturally defined features of communication between men and women.
As it was shown, men and women seem to talk in different ways. A set of features characterizing the speech of men and women was compiled on the basis of relevant works and theories in the field of gender linguistics. According to these, women tend to speak more grammatically correct and use more well-formed sentences, speak more politely, and have a tendency to facilitate and foster conversations. They also tend to ask more questions, to hedge more frequently, and to speak in a more personal and emotion-related way. Men’s speech, on the other hand, includes more colloquial language, is more direct and factual, and revolves more consistently around them. Explanations for the differences point to boys and girls being socially trained to behave male or female. The differences seem to be linked to a different social status of men and women, and women holding a disadvantageous role in society that is deficient or subordinate to that of men.
1. Basow S. A. Gender stereotypes and roles. Oxford: Pacific Grove, 1998. — 447p.
2. Freeman R. & McElhinny B. Language and Gender.// Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.1996. № 9 ― 280p.
3. Taylor J., John R. Cognitive Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. — 620 p.
4. Holmes J., Meyerhof M. The Handbook of Language and Gender. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. ―759 p.
6. Tannen D. You just don’t understand. Women and men in conversation. N. Y., 1990. — 147p.