English - Language & Gender

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Flashcards on English - Language & Gender, created by 08aliwin on 05/01/2013.

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Created by 08aliwin almost 6 years ago
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Question Answer
Stereotyping involves assigning a basic set of characteristics to represent an entire group as a whole. These may be positive or negative, and depending on how they are used to make judgements on or maintain ways in which we expect groups or individuals to behave, can lead to prejudice. Stereotyping can also lead us to believe that certain roles are normal and that group members ought to conform to these roles and behavioural expectations. Semantic Derogation It has been claimed that some terms used to describe women have a strong negative connotation attached to them when compared to the male equivalent. Sara Mills, following work by Deborah Cameron and Muriel Schultz, highlights some examples of terms that suggest a positive attribute to the male but not the female equivalent. Mills points out that many of the female equivalents are marked as indicative of sexual promiscuity. In addition, whilst ‘bachelor’ retains positive connotations of a free- spirited, independent lifestyle, the term ‘spinster’ has more negative connotations. Other pairs such as ‘lord’ and ‘lady’ have experienced shift in meaning over time, and according to Mills have undergone semantic derogation with terms such as ‘cleaning lady’.
The Deficit Approach: Female language is lacking authority in comparison to male. Lakoff’s Theory: Use of precise colour terms, weak expletive terms, empty adjectives, tag questions, more polite forms, hedgers, fillers. Alternative Explanations: Janet Holes suggests that tag questions are not a sign of uncertainty, but also function as a device to help maintain discussion/ be polite. Betty Dubois & Isobel Crouch found in their data men used more tag questions but were not less confident speakers. William O’Barr & Bowman Atkins renamed ‘powerless language’ due to the fact they found it was more likely to be used by lower class men in the courtroom. The Dominance Approach: Men are seen as controlling and dominating in mixed-sex interactions. Zimmerman & West’s Theory: 96% of all interruptions in mixed-sex conversations were made by men. However, this was a small set of data. Subsequent Research: Men and women do not hold equal conversation rights. Zimmerman and West later carried out research between parents and children and concluded that parents interrupted and assumed power in those interactions in the same way men did in mixed conversations
The Difference Approach: Variation in the way males and females use language is due to different sub-cultures. Jennifer Coats’s Theory: All-female talk is essentially cooperative in the way that speakers help to negotiate discussions and support each other’s rights as speakers; they are evidence of different socio-cultural expectations. Jane Pilkington’s Theory: Women in same-sex conversations were more collaborative then men in all-male talk and men were less supportive and not as polite as women. Koenraad Kuiper’s Theory: In all male conversations amongst rugby players, men were less likely to pay attention to the need to save face and instead used insults as a way of expressing solidarity. Gender or Power: More recent work on gender has led researchers to consider taking a wider social context and in particular the ways in which speakers ‘do’ gender in the same way they ‘do’ power. This approach throws doubt on the whole polarisation of male and female talk and on the male and female status as fixed identities. Instead, it emphasises how the notion of gender is very much a social construct. Some of the most interesting questions about how gender is constructed have centred on how gender is performed in communication that is not face-to-face, such as that afforded by the technologies of email and instant messaging.
Marked Expressions Lexical items used to describe females are often marked to distinguish them from the male terms. The act of marking suggests deviation or difference to the norm, the unmarked item. A straightforward form of marking can be seen in antonyms. One of the most obvious examples of this is in the use of the antonyms ‘young’ and ‘old. In English, a more obvious form of marking called overt marking often occurs through the addition of the suffix ‘-ess’. So for unmarked items such as ‘manager’ and ‘actor’ we have the marked terms ‘manageress’ and ‘actress’ Sometimes, through modification we have terms such as ‘female doctor’ or ‘male nurse’. Generic Terms The use of masculine pronouns as generic pronouns when the gender of referent is unspecified is generally no longer considered acceptable. These are terms such as ‘he’, ‘him’ and ‘his’ For many people, these are examples of exclusive language in that they represent a male centred world. However, replacing these exclusive terms with inclusive language, however, is not as straightforward as it may appear.