Language and Gender Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Language and Gender

Women's Words Relate to Specific Interests

Women Use Adjectives of Approval

Women Use Weak Expletives

Using Tag

The world balks at the idea of gender discrimination, but the fact remains that gender differences are biological and there is no other way to deal with gender issues than to address them openly and seek better understanding.

As far as the linguistic capacity and the nature and cadence of conversations are concerned, women and men have been found to have various differences. Acknowledging these and working with them can allow better communication between the two genders so that the ubiquitous issue of men saying "we can't understand women' and women saying that 'men don't listen' can be alleviated.

Researchers in linguistics and speech patterns have tried to specify particular features that are different in the conversation mannerisms of women and men. Moreover, women talk differently in the company of men as compared to there being all women in the conversation. In fact some topics which are openly discussed among females are considered taboo even if they are alluded to in a conversation with males. The four specific speech patterns that I will be focusing on as part of this discussion are as detailed in the following paragraphs.

Women's Words Relate to Specific Interests

When women talk, they have particular interests in mind and the words they use may be more descriptive than deemed necessary by men conducting the same conversation. The example that can be given here in terms of clothing are Fuchsia instead of bright pink, or the various terms and words seed to describe different cuts and styles of clothes. Moreover they tend to be more abstract in their word use, which can turn to flowery language considering the women are interested in latest fashion trends, accessories and clothing, salon choice, body treatments and the likes. These items are part of their everyday life and therefore when they are in the company of other women; such topics tend to surface and appear to have no end to them for the outside observers. In a similar line, when women are present, they tend to discuss relationships more than ideas, business or current affairs that generally tend to be the top most priority for men. It would be rare to see two women, in informal environment discussing sports or business. That is how the perceive each other to be, the softer human side, and as their interests are generally in the same categories as mentioned above, women focus on relationships.

Women Use Adjectives of Approval

Adjective of approval are considered to be descriptors that have little meaning but women, with their tendency to be more expressive and to have more empathy for others use these lot. These empty words add some emotion or zeal to the expression of speech, but its use has become so popular with women that it has become a differentiating feature of speech for both genders.

In fact it has become a label for women's manner of speech, so that men who use it are ridiculed for it. Some of the examples of these adjectives include 'adorable' 'charming' or 'sweet' that somehow softens up the speech without adding anything of substance into it.

Men on the other hand are more direct in their speech patterns and do not use as many compliments when it comes to conversations. Women on the other hand use them to fully express their meaning and to enhance their compliments as they are more concerned with their social image.

Women Use Weak Expletives

Women have increasingly played a powerful role in the way that the world has developed. More and more women today are doing what was previously considered the ambit of men only. Women are aeronauts. Leaders, business visionaries and they have shown that they can shoulder all the responsibilities that men have, as well as proving that they are equally capable. However, the fact remains that they are biologically different and have different thinking patterns that lead to different communication styles. Therefore even with the empowerment that women have had in the recent past, women are still considered to be the delicate sex and conversation with them is expected to have an intonation of respect and moderation.

This is the reason why, carrying forth from earlier times, the perception still holds that women need to be protected in some way, and protecting them from rude or crass language is one sign of being a gentleman. In the same vein, women use fewer expletives which are much weaker than any that men use.

Additionally, women tend to have lesser direct confrontations as compared to men who are low context as compared to women who are more indirect in their approach to conflict resolutions. Under the same heading, we can also see that women are less tolerant of expletives being meted out in public. The reason for this is simple. Women are more socially oriented and concerned with maintaining relationships as compared to men and therefore feel embarrassed in the company of those around them to use and listen to expletives. This naturally inclines their speech to have fewer and weaker expletives.

Men on the other hand tend to use strong expletives even when they are not needed in order to appear manly and to adhere to the teaming norms of males in their groups. Using expletives is meant to make a strong statement about their personality so that they are considered as an important part of the group and cannot be taken for granted.

Using Tag Questions

The stereotypes that have been developed since earlier times are difficult to eliminate. Even if there is much rhetoric to do with the presence of women on all fronts and the emergence of female leaders, women still are not as confident about their abilities as men are. And this is the reason for there being plenty of tag questions in their speech. Consider the example of the current IBM CEO Virginia Rometty who is slated to take over Samuel Johnson in the highest stead in one of the most powerful companies of the world. She said in an interview that she had been offered a lucrative job but she responded by saying that she was not sure if she could handle it, and that she needed time. When she sought her husband's counsel regarding the matter, he retorted by saying if she knew any male who would answer the way she had. That was the time that Ms. Rometty realized the power of self-confidence. This example also goes to illustrate how women tend to soften up their image, and bring their worries out into the open, while males tend to 'fake it, till they make it' and tend not to discuss personal dilemmas with any other person.

In same manner they tend to soften their strong arguments by adding tag questions that in essence seek approval from other people in order for them to gain confidence by seeking poplar support. These tag questions include 'don't you think so?' Or 'do you think I took the right step?' These tag questions are also an indication of the consideration that women give to relationships in their lives where they want everyone to be included on a decision and seek consent before moving forth by using a variety of tag questions to soften the blow of strong or categorical points in the argument.

The use of tag questions can be of crucial importance in negotiations as it can help reconcile difference, if not profoundly, but at least on a tertiary level.


Women are more caring and more sensitive to other people's needs and their conversation cues, which are reflected in the manner in which they talk.

Moreover, according to some researchers, the differences in speech…

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