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Discuss the significant differences between men's and women's talk - the way they interact, their choice of words and phrases and the topics they like to discuss.

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Introduction

Essay 2 Beginning with the role of compliments in female-male interaction by Janet Holmes in Reading B of Chapter 1 of your textbook Using English: from conversation to canon, discuss the significant differences between men's and women's talk - the way they interact, their choice of words and phrases and the topics they like to discuss. The linguist Halliday (1978) suggests that language has a dual function; it communicates ideational meaning, in terms of the information and ideas expressed, and it also communicates interpersonal meaning, expressing the degree of friendliness, or status difference between speakers. Since women and men occupy different subcultures, and subcultures are also differentiated according to how language is used, it is reasonable to say that the genders would exhibit distinctive language patterns. ( Maybin, Mercer, p5 ) Beginning with the work of Lakoff (1975), which documented that women and men communicate on the basis of languages which are differentiated according to gender. She suggests that women use more tag questions (eg. Isn't it? Don't you think? ) more indirect polite forms (eg. Could you please? ) more intensifiers (eg. Really ) and what she sees as generally weaker vocabulary ( eg. Words like lovely and Oh dear ). ...read more.

Middle

Tannen points out that men do " report-talk" and women do " rapport - talk". Women in most situations tends to be less competitive, more co-operative and work harder to make things run smoothly; for instance, encouraging others to talk and using more face-saving politeness strategies. (( Maybin, Mercer, p 19 ) This is supported further by Janet Holmes who characterized women's linguistic behaviour as affiliative, facilitative and co-operative. The fact that women give and receive many more compliments than men is consistent with the above research findings. ( Maybin, Mercer, p 20 ) Compliments are positive speech acts which are used to express friendship and increase rapport between people. A range of studies, involving American, British, Polish and New Zealand speakers, have demonstrated that compliments are used more frequently by women than by men, and that women are complimented more often than men ( Nessa Wolfson, 1983; Janet Holmes, 1988; Barbara Lewandowska- Tomaszczyk, 1989; Robert Herbert, 1990 ). Mostly these compliments refer to just a few broad topics: appearance ( especially, clothes and hair ) a good performance which is the result of skill or effort, possessions and some aspect of personality or friendliness. ( Joan Manes, 1983; Homes, 1986; Herbert 1990) ...read more.

Conclusion

Men gossip about others and do not reveal personal information about these people, but they talk about themselves without doing so. ( Lindsey, 1994, p 76) Levin and Arluke (1985) show that men gossip about distant acquaintances and celebrities while women gossip about close friends and family. Tannen ( 1990) suggest that revealing personal information is what cements friendships between females. Therefore telling secrets is evidence of friendship, especially for women. According to Arliss (1991: 50) review of research on what women and men talk about, several trends are clear. Men today report that women are a frequently discussed topic, whereas previously they talked about other men. Both men and women talk about work and sexual partners. To summarize, there is definitely significant evidence that women's speaking style in English differs from men. Women's talk involves more hesitations, indirectness, qualifiers, polite forms and tag questions and that in most situations they are less competitive, more co-operative and work harder to make things run smoothly. They are less control oriented, more concerned with 'connection' rather than status ( Philip Smith, 1985; Holmes 1990; Deborah Tannen, 1991 ) Some researchers relate this to women's inferior social position, having to play deference towards men and men's domination in cross gender talk through their control of the topic, interruptions and giving less feedback and support. ...read more.

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