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Gender and language.

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Selina Esscopri


Gender and Language


In this piece of coursework I will be investigating the difference between the way men and women talk.

I have provided a transcript, which shows how a conversation is structured when a man and a women is speaking. As a backup to this investigation I have carried out research which involves further reading about different aspects in gender and language.

This transcript has been taped in private; both characters are unaware of the recording. The conversation which is taped, takes place between a husband and wife. The speech is a mixture of topics and it is hard to identify the subject which they are talking about.

The female (wife) initiates the topic and then is interrupted by the male (husband)

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Overlaps are instances of slight over anticipation by the next speaker: (overlapping the last word, of the current speaker). Zimmerman and West examined irregularities in the transcribed conversation these are points in the conversation where turn taking did not follow the smooth pattern. They found profound differences between the conversations involving two speakers of the same sex and those involving one speaker of each sex. The two sorts of irregularity they identified are called overlaps and interruption.

In the transcript I am analysing, the woman use’s many hedges, such as ‘I s’ppose, possibly, y’know, sort of and perhaps’; these express the speakers certainty or uncertainty about the proposition under discussion.

This may be because women are less confident in asserting themselves.

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As the participant have contrasting views, the conversation tended to be competitive rather than co-operative, and there is little evidence of supportive feed back.

Adjacency pairs such as: - A: she’s coming around next mornin B: possibly noon to – This shows that the women is adding extra information to make the conversation more interesting.

From this we can see that participant B has more power over the conversation, it can also be seen that participant B structures the conversation by asking questions and speaking more often. Participant B is a female; therefore it has been proven that females talk more than males.


Jenny Coates – gender and language

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This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Height and Weight of Pupils and other Mayfield High School investigations section.

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