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Investigation into representation of gender through speech

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Investigation into representation of gender through speech Chiara Giovanni Introduction: The aim of the investigation is to find out whether gender affects speech features according to research carried out by theorists Lokoff, Holmes, Tannen and Fishman. Methodology: Primary research was undertaken. Three groups of Year 10 students were used: a control group consisting of three boys and three girls, a group with six girls, and a group with six boys. The students came from the top set single-sex English groups, which could be considered to be helpful, as not only have they had extensive experience of debating and discussion, but being in single-sex classes should have supposedly amplified the speech features affected by gender. Each group was asked to discuss the issue of which gender were more likely to choose looks over personality, a discussion topic which would theoretically be more relevant and approachable than a controversial issue like abortion or euthanasia, and more interesting and original than school uniform or smoking. Hypotheses: * Girls are more likely to seek approval from others in a group and "keep face"; boys are more likely to be confrontational and attempt to establish their individual identities rather than staying in a group * Girls are therefore more likely to use hedgers and fillers to soften their arguments and sound more hesitant and less sure of themselves than boys, who will ...read more.


maybe (1) maybe that's a bit stereotypical (1) but Girl: yeah but (.) some girls to be fair do say "oh I'm not pretty" Supports Lokoff's findings that women are more likely to hedge their opinions to soften a potentially harsh tone and gain approval from the group. * Boys more firm: Boy: well in my opinion lots of girls wanna look [inaudible] and they think they gotta lose weight and gotta buy new clothes and stuff Supports Tannen's theory that men prefer independence from the group, as highlighted by the first person construction used here. * Boys interrupt the girls more * Fewer fillers Boy: ...and they're just looking for someone to say, "no you're not, you're beautiful" Straightforward style of speech supports Fishman's findings that men do not employ as many attention-getters to change topic, as well as Tannen's belief that men prefer to report and lecture than to listen and establish rapport. Conclusion- both boys and girls displayed more stereotypically male or female speech traits in accordance with famous research when with the opposite gender 6 boys When in an all-boys group, typical "female" traits were more apparent: * Boys playing for time with hedgers Boy: hmm (1) I'm not really sure * Boys support each other with agreement features; are also more hesitant, use monitoring devices, less forceful with opinions Boy: well yeah (.) ...read more.


The support and rapport still remains the same. * Interruption/overlap is very frequent but seems to enrich the conversation rather than detracting from it or creating confrontation Girl 3: friends with benefits guys Girl 6: [laughter] Girl 5: [no way] Girl 4: [no] Others: [laughter] Girl: [you] Girl 6: [that's like you kissing [name]] Others: [laughter] Girl: [that's disgusting] Girl 5: [and my [inaudible]] Girl 2: and the conversation gets really awkward Others: [laughter] Girl 2: I suppose we Girl 6: [and now you think] Girl: [and guys] Girl 2: and now you said that (.) I was just Girl 5: [see like her little comment just] Girl: [and always like] Girl 2: [literally] Girl 3: [joking] Girl: [yeah let's just get back to whether girls are more picky than boys] Girl 3: [laughter] Girl 6: yeah we changed topic * Girls use fewer monitoring devices and hedgers here: they are not afraid to contradict each other, and it is not seen as negative when they do so: they do not feel the need to seek approval from others * Girls also went off on random tangents involving Glee and Hannah Montana Conclusion- girls do not feel the need to seek approval when only with their own gender: their hesitancy disappears and they are less afraid of moving away from the established opinion ...read more.

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