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Language and Gender.

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Introduction

Language and Gender. The English language is continually changing in order to meet the needs of the people using it. The ever-changing culture we live in affects the way language develops and the way it is used by different people in society. The ideology of a society is reflected in its use of language, and because children learn their values, assumptions and expectations from their parents and the words that they have to learn, this ideology is passed down from generation to generation. For centuries we have lived in a male-dominated society where language has been biased towards men. Men are viewed as being the superior sex and this is reinforced by the use of biased generic terms such as 'mankind�, which infact refers to the whole human race. Bias towards men is very often unconscious, thus demonstrating that sexist attitudes are fundamentally ingrained into our way of thinking. ...read more.

Middle

Women tend to take a much more co-operative approach during conversation, for example they make an effort to include others, use the first person plural more often and are much more willing to discuss issues raised by others. Whereas men are likely to interrupt more, ignore others and are reluctant to talk about topics introduced by other people, consequently taking a competitive approach to conversation. It can be argued that the reason for females being less confident and assertive during conversation is due to the fact that they are seen to have a less powerful position in society than males. Another line of argument for the differences in conversational behavior is that men and women have different attitudes and values and this is reflected in their conversation skills. Studies show that the reason women are more supportive and sympathetic is down to more cooperative game play as children, men are dominant because as young children games are focused on competition and confrontation. ...read more.

Conclusion

Female students were given two booklets containing the same article, one with a man�s name and the other with a woman�s, they found the work of John T. McKay superior to that of Joan T. McKay even though it was the same article. The evidence suggests that there are clear differences in language use between males and females and that the English language is biased towards men. However, over the past few years the situation has slowly been improving, as women are becoming more equal citizens; initially with things such as the right to vote and more recently the first appointment of a women in charge of a warship. Traditional terms such as postman and fireman are being replaced with unbiased expressions such as post person and fire fighter. Although steps towards change are being taken it is going to be a lengthy process and a long time before women become totally equal and this is reflected in our language. Ultimately it will be up to society to decide what is acceptable and it is the people who have the power to make the necessary changes. ...read more.

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