i love english language

4.3 Gender & Interaction Theory – Holmes, Tannen, Cameron & DeFrancisco

1. COMPLIMENTING- A POSITIVE POLITENESS STRATEGY by JANET HOLMES


PAYING COMPLIMENTS

Compliments attend to the hearer’s:

  • Interests
  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Goods

This is the first positive politeness strategy identified by BROWN AND LEVINSON.

WHAT IS A COMPLIMENT?

Holmes definition, 1986:

A compliment is a speech act which explicitly or implicitly attributes credit to someone other than the speaker, usually the person addressed, for some ‘good’ (possession, characteristic, skill, etc.) which is positively valued by the speaker and the hearer

DIRECT AND INDIRECT

  • A direct compliment addresses the listener directly and blatantly:

“You’re looking good today, Pam”

  • An indirect compliment is inferable from the discourse context:

“Is that a new suit?”

  • It is interesting to note that many indirect compliments stem from things that are new, as these are generally highly valued in the consumerist Western societies.

WHY GIVE A COMPLIMENT?

  • Usually intended to make others feel good- WIERZBICKA
  • Serve to increase or consolidate the solidarity between the speaker and addressee- WOLFSO, HOLMES, HERBERT
  • Social lubricants’ which create/maintain rapport- WOLFSON

However, it is not always as straight forward as this…

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO PARTICIPANTS IS CRUCIAL IN EVALUATING THE COMPLIMENT

  • It is therefore possible that in some relationships the compliments will be unwelcomed.
  • The speaker can in fact use compliments in order to assert superiority over the listener.

THE DARKER SIDE TO COMPLIMENTS

  • As established by BROWN AND LEVINSON, a compliment can be regarded as “a face-threatening act to the extent that it implies the complimenter envies the addressee in some way, or would like something belonging to the addressee”
  • They may be sarcastic, patronising, an ironic put-down or even offensively flattering.

N.B. Compliments between people who don’t know each other well can cause embarrassment.

THE DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS OF COMPLIMENTS IN DIFFERENT CONTEXTS

  1. To express solidarity
  2. To express positive evaluation, admiration, appreciation or praise
  3. To express envy or desire for hearer’s possessions
  4. As verbal harassment (‘strange compliments’ or ‘street remarks’)

WHO PAYS MOST COMPLIMENTS?

484 naturally occurring compliments were analysed between

New Zealand men and women.

  • Women gave received significantly more compliments than men did.
  • In fact, women gave 68% and received 74% of all compliments.
  • Compliments between men were fairly rare (9%).
  • Men received overall considerably fewer compliments than women (26%).

OVERALL compliments appear to be a speech behaviour occurring much more frequently in interactions involving women rather than men. SUPPORTED BY two different American studies where women are complimented more often than men.

WHY COULD THIS BE?

  • It has been suggested that men and women may perceive the function of compliments differently.
  • Women may regard them as primarily positive speech acts (expressing solidarity and positive politeness)
  • Men, on the other hand, may give greater weight to a compliment’s referential meaning, as evaluative judgements or as potentially negative face-threateners.

WHY MEN TEND TO COMPLIMENT EACHOTHER LESS

  • Herbert (1990) suggested that where compliments are less frequent, they are more likely to be taken as ‘genuine expressions of admiration’.
  • For this reason, men’s responses to compliments were more than likely going to be acceptances.
  • Women’s responses, however, were more likely to elicit alternative response, such as shifting or reducing the force of the compliment.

-That’s a lovely outfit!

-Its quite old actually.

HOW DO MEN AND WOMEN PAY COMPLIMENTS

  • Referring back to the New Zealand study, a pattern was found in the ways men and women pay compliments.
  • In general…

Man: Great shoes.

Woman: What a splendid hat!

  • The women’s use of the rhetorical pattern can be regarded as emphatic and as increasing the force of the speech act.
  • Using this rhetorical pattern for a compliment stresses its addressee- or interaction-orientated characteristics.
  • The men’s pattern of a compliment tends to reduce the force of the compliment.
  • There were no examples of the rhetorical pattern in the male-male interaction.
  • Women also use more personalised compliment forms (they are more likely to say “I love X”) whereas men prefer impersonal forms.

Cross Purposes: The Myth of Male-Female Misunderstanding by Deborah Cameron

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus…

}  It seems today that men and women are under the illusion that they both speak the same language.

}  A man may be English and a women may be English, however this does not mean they speak the same language as one another.

That is far from what is actually happening.

}  What Deborah Cameron is tackling in her article is the idea that there is a increasing issue between men and women understanding what one another are uttering.

Crosstalk…

}  Tannen worked with Grumperz leading to a

Men seem to use indirect questions…

}  Cameron explains to us that men rarely directly ask something. Instead they are more likely to imply something through the use of an indirect question.

}  Example used by Cameron….

“is there any ketchup vera?”

It is perfectly well known that here the husband is asking his wife “please can you get me the ketchup” however instead he subtly and indirectly question whether there is any as away of pushing Vera to automatically go and get some.

If the daughter were to ask for some the response would be quite different,  female to female rather than husband to wife.

Cameron is suggesting that conversation direction depends on whether there are different genders interacting or just the one gender.

2. Different Words, Different Worlds - Deborah Tannen


  • Intimacy and Independence

Intimacy

Key in a world of connection where individuals negotiate complex networks of friendships, minimize differences, try to reach consensus and avoid the appearance of superiority.

Independence

Key in a world of status because a primary means of establishing status is to tell others what to do.

Although all humans need both – men tend to focus on independence whilst women focus on intimacy.

VS

Communication “is a continual balancing act, juggling the conflicting needs for intimacy and independence”

Example:

Louise and Howie are a couple.

Louise would never buy anything costing more than a hundred dollars without discussing it with Howie.

Howie goes out and buys whatever he wants.

Louise is disturbed not because she disapproves of the purchase but because she believes he is acting like she is out of the picture.

Example reflects a broad difference in decision making.

Women expect decisions to be discussed and made by consensus. This allows involvement and communication.

Men  feel oppressed by lengthy discussions about what they see as minor decisions and feel hemmed in if they can’t act without a discussion first.

Asymmetries

If intimacy says “We’re close and the same”, independence says “We’re separate and different” it is easy to see that intimacy and independence dovetail with connection and status.

The symmetry of connection is what creates community: If two people are struggling for closeness, they are both struggling for the same thing.

The asymmetry of status is what creates contest: two people can’t both have the upper hand and so a battle for dominance arises.

Example:

A woman who works in sales exclaimed that she understood the puzzling transformation that the leader of her sales team had undergone when he was promoted to district manager.

She had been sure he would make a perfect boss because he had a healthy disregard for authority.

He had rarely bothered to go to meetings called by management, encouraged team members to exercise their own judgement and eagerly used what power he had to waive regulations on their behalf.

But when he became manger he introduced more regulations than anyone had dreamed off and insisted that exceptions could be made only on the basis of written requests to him.

This is because the man used to be in a hierarchy in which he had little status

and therefore deified the authority above him. However when he became top

of the hierarchical structure he implemented his authority.

The mixed Metamessages Of help

Example:

Emily and Jacob planning wedding themselves but Emily’s parents paying the bill.

Concerned that things would turn out right, Emily’s parents frequently called and asked detailed questions

For example: “What did dinner include?”

Emily and Jacob took these questions as implying that the wedding was going to be a

disaster because they weren’t competent to arrange it.

In response to Emily’s protests her mother exclaimed: “We want to be part of the planning we want

To help”

But….

There is always a paradox in giving help.

One interpretation: it is a generous move that shows caring and build rapport.

Second interpretation: It puts one person in a superior position with respect to the other.

The act of helping sends metamessages.

The message of “helping” says: “this is good for you” but the fact of giving help may send the metamessage “I am more competent than you” and in that sense it is good for the helper.

Framing

Metamessages frame a conversation.

They let you know how to interpret what someone is saying by identifying the activity that is going on i.e. is it an argument or a chat?

At the same time they let you know what position the speaker is assuming in the activity and what position you are being assigned.

Sociologist Erving Goffman uses the term alignment to express this aspect of framing. “If you put me down, you are taking a superior alignment with respect to me”

Our reactions to what others say or do are often sparked by how we feel we are being framed.

The modern Face of Chivalry

v  Framing is key in the commonplace scenes.

v  The chivalrous man who holds a door open or signals a woman to go ahead of him when he’s driving is negotiating both status and connection. The status difference is implied by the metamessage of control: The woman gets to proceed not because it is her right but because he has granted her permission so she is being framed as subordinate.

v  Waving another on in traffic also preserves independence: The driver is deciding on his own course of action rather than being told what to do by someone else.

The Protective FRAME

  • A protective gesture from a man reinforces the traditional alignment by which men protect women.
  • But a protective gesture from a woman suggests a different scenario: one in which women protect children,
  • Example: Sandra was driving and Maurice was sitting in the set beside her.
  • When she had to brake suddenly she did what her father had always done – at the moment she braked she extended her right arm to protect the person beside her from falling forward.
  • The gesture was mostly symbolic but it infuriated Maurice.
  • The explanation he gave for his anger was that she should keep both hands on the wheel for safety. She knew that she did not loose control of the car when she extended her arm so they could never settle the difference.
  • Although Maurice responded to the gesture in terms of safety he was actually responding to the frame implied the gesture – he felt belittled.
  • The act of protecting frames the protector as dominant and the protected as subordinate.
  • But the status difference signalled by this alignment may be more immediately apparent to men. As a result women who are thinking in terms of connection may talk and behave in ways that accept protection unaware that others may see them as taking a subordinate position.

Different means to the same end

  • Both status and connection can be used as means to get things done by talking.
  • Example:
  • Suppose you want to get an appointment with a plumber who is fully booked for a month.
  • You may use strategies that manipulate your connections or your differences in status.
  • If you opt for status you may operate either as one down or one up.
  • One up – you let it be known that you are an important person – one who can influence the plumbers job.
  • One down- you are new to town and have no one to ask if you can use their shower.
  • You may reinforce your sameness.
  • If you are from the same town as the plumber’s receptionist you may engage her in talk about your home town hoping that this will remind her that you come from the same community so she will give you special consideration.
  • Furthermore whilst many people believe name dropping to show status it is also a play on intimacy and connection. It is an attempt to gain approval by showing you know someone that others know thus bringing yourself closer to that person.

Mixed judgements and Misjudgement

Men and women regard the landscape from contrasting vantage points and so the same

scene can appear very different and they often have opposite interpretations of the same  action.

Example:

Tannen’s colleague received a letter from a production editor instructing him to let her know

If he were going to be away from his permanent address in the next six months.

He interpreted this as the production editor as being like a parole officer.

However Tannen received a similar letter and interpreted it as importance as her whereabouts mattered. Although he could understand her point – he could not realise how she did not feel framed as both controlled and inferior in rank by being told to report one’s movements to someone.

Therefore is this to be the general perception held by men, imagine how often women who think they are displaying a positive quality are misjudged by men who perceive them as

Revealing a lack of independence, which the men regard as synonymous with incompetence and insecurity,

In pursuit of Freedom

The desire for independence and freedom is more of an issue for men in relationships whereas women value interdependence and connection.

In a study of how men and women talk about their divorces, Catherine Kohler Riessman found that both men and women mentioned increased freedom as a benefit of divorce. But the word freedom means different things to them. Women used freedom to mean “independence and autonomy”. But when mentioned freedom they meant freedom of obligation.

The “Chronicle of Higher Education” conducted a small survey asking six university professors why they had chosen the teaching profession. Among the six were four men and two women. In answering the question, the two women referred to teaching. One said: “I’ve always wanted to teach”. The four men’s answers had much in common with each other and little in common with the women’s. All four men referred to independence as their main motive for example one said: “I like the freedom to set your own research goals.” In talking about their profession the women focused on connection to student’s whereas the men focused on their freedom from others’ control.

It begins at the Beginning

v  Children learn to talk not only from parents but also peers.

v  Daniel Maltz and Ruth Borker show that boys and girls have very different ways of speaking to their friends.

Amy Sheldon videotaped three to four year old boys and girls playing in threesomes at a day care centre.

Compared two groups of three – one of boys and one of girls that got into a fight over the same play item – a plastic pickle.

Found that for most parts the girls mitigated the conflict and preserved harmony by compromise and evasion.

Conflict was more prolonged among the boys who used more insistence, appeals to rules and threats of physical violence.

But the boys did attempt compromise and the girls did attempt physical force.

The girls like the boys were struggling for control of their play.

Suggests that boys and girls both want to get their way but they tend to do so differently.

Though social norms encourage boys to be openly competitive and girls to be openly cooperative different situations and activities can result in different ways of behaving.

Marjorie Harness Goodwin compared boys and girls in two task orientated activities.

Boys were making slingshots in preparation for a fight and the girls were making rings.

Boys group hierarchical

Girls group everyone made suggestions and tended to accept the suggestions of others.

But in observing girls playing house she noticed that they too adopted hierarchical structures with those girls who were playing the mother were giving orders and became almost a manager of the game.

Shows that girls know how to issue orders and operate in a hierarchical structure but don’t find this mode of behaviour appropriate. But do find it appropriate in parent-child relationships which they enjoy practicing in the form of play.

The boys play illuminates why men would be on the lookout for signs they are being put down or told what to do. The chief commodity is status and the way to achieve status is to give orders and to get others to follow your orders.

Boys monitor their relations for subtle shifts in status by keeping track of who’s giving orders and who’s taking them.

Chief commodity in girls relations is intimacy. Girls monitor their friendships for subtle shifts in alliance and they seek to be friends with popular girls.

“With increased understanding of the ways women and men use language should come a decrease in frequency of the complaint “You just don’t understand”

3. Explanations of Women’s Linguistic Behaviour – Janet Holmes, 1992


“Why do women use more standard forms than men?”

1. Variations in social class and its related status

2. Women’s role in society

3. Women’s status as a subordinate group

4. Variations in the function of speech in expressing gender identity, especially masculinity.

The Social Status Explanation

  • Women use more standard forms as they are more status-conscious than men and are aware that their speech signals their social class background and so they strive to appear to have a higher social status than they actually do.
  • Women also believe that they use more standard forms than they actually do, so they think that they have a higher status in society.
  • Examples of this were carried out in New York and Norwich.

Woman’s Role as Guardian of Society’s Values

  • Society expects better behaviour of women and when they are children, little girls are corrected where boys can stay mischievous.
  • Women are designated the role of modelling correct behaviour and so society expects women to speak in more standard forms.
  • The exception is when a mother speaks to her child in a more relaxed tone as it is intimate and an unobserved interaction.

Subordinate Groups must be Polite

  • It is argued that women are subordinate to men and must avoid offending them, making them speak with more standard forms.
  • Women are also looking after their own need to be valued by society and using standard forms protects her ‘face’ and avoids offence to other people.

Vernacular Forms express Machismo

  • Men use less standard forms as by doing so they express their masculinity, and appearing less standard than they actually are. The men who used less standard forms in conversation were voted ‘most likely to win a street fight’.
  • These vernacular forms have a ‘covert prestige’ for men.
  • It is claimed that standard forms express femininity and so this is why women use them. If they use vernacular forms they are considered promiscuous or too masculine and therefore not desirable.

Alternative Explanations…

  • The way in which women are categorised may make the theories vary, for example some people see women as inferior to men, some see them as equals and other view them as better etc.
  • Another problem is with the interviewer. They may be biased towards one set of results and so only ask questions that can give certain answers.
  • Context is also important as some may vary due to power, social class or intelligence or simply knowledge of the situation. This all effects the results of fieldwork.

4. Mars and Venus in Childhood and Adolescence by Deborah Cameron


Interesting findings of the author…

This article states that:-

  • The way of gender interaction has perhaps risen from childhood, particularly from games and their activities.
  • She disagrees with the general theory that men are more competitive in speech and that women do not challenge each other.
  • She states that women’s language and general personalities and interests change between “5th and 6th grade”, the UK equivalent of years 6 and 7.
  • Both genders gossip about others, not just women. And women can use it as a source of power to talk about others.
  • Boys respect male dominance, girls do not like female dominance and see it as ‘bitchy’

Interesting findings of the author…

This article states that:-

  • The way of gender interaction has perhaps risen from childhood, particularly from games and their activities.
  • She disagrees with the general theory that men are more competitive in speech and that women do not challenge each other.
  • She states that women’s language and general personalities and interests change between “5th and 6th grade”, the UK equivalent of years 6 and 7.
  • Both genders gossip about others, not just women. And women can use it as a source of power to talk about others.
  • Boys respect male dominance, girls do not like female dominance and see it as ‘bitchy’

Interesting examples/studies found…

Judith Baxter, a researcher, recorded a group of 14-15 year old school pupils, who were told to imagine a plane crash and rank some items in importance for survival.

One of the discussions was a male group, and another discussion was a female group.

From this discussion she found that Group A holds a lot of competition, as one of the members creates conflict almost straight away, and continues to repeatedly challenge the others, arguing the sunglasses are not needed.

Group B interaction is more cooperative, and conflict is avoided.

Surely this would lead us to think Group A was the boys, and group B was the girls. However this is not the case as in fact Group A was the girls and Group B was the boys, contrasting the theories of Deborah Tannen.

After the group sessions, Baxter interviewed the groups. In the girls group, one of the girls, Sophie was absent from the discussion. A girl named Charlotte stated “I didn’t agree with anything Sophie was saying, she wanted to be the leader, to be in charge. I felt a bit uncomfortable with that.” Then two of the other girls stated they agreed.

The girls then referred to this as “bitchiness”. Baxter then found that the dominant speakers in the classroom are usually those who are popular outside the classroom. By contrast, a popular girl who flaunts her status in a way that is seen as transgressing the norms of femininity will be punished for it, hence girls do things in a more covert way, i.e. Gossiping behind backs and spreading rumours.

Some researchers have challenged the belief that girls generally rely on indirect strategies for establishing status hierarchies. In her book The Hidden Life of Girls, based on more than 100 hours of video and audio recordings of a group of six 9-12 year olds who were studied over a period of three years, the ethnographer Marie Harness Goodwin describes a side of girl’s social life that she believes has been downplayed in previous research because it does not fit with the expectation that boys will be assertive while girls are supportive and nurturing.

The girls habitually did all the things Tannen stated they wouldn’t do. They gave each other orders directly, argued about the rules of hopscotch, and boasted about their athletic skills, possessions and family status. They also engaged in bullying a ‘tag along girl’, also spreading rumours about her.

The exchange Goodwin witnessed on the soccer field, a confrontation on page 68 of the theory reader, occurred when the girls were in 5th grade, which research has suggested is a turning point for girls.

The linguist Penelope Eckert spent several years studying a group of girls in northern California as they moved through elementary school into junior high school. She observed a significant change in the behaviour of boys and girls- especially girls, between the 5th and 6th grades.

Before 5th grade, girls are seen rolling around on the floor, throwing themselves to the ground and joining in in many physical games. However in 6th grade, they are found to stop running, monitoring their facial expressions, striking feminine dramatic poses and caring more about their bodies.

At this stage girls and boys become more interested in heterosexual relationships. Girls focus on grooming, and girls begin to just sit and talk instead of play physical games. Conversations turned to boys, and Eckert found the main reason for the girls to ‘go with’ a boy was to discuss it with other girls. Girls are using a new language of relationships and feelings.

Important quotes/conclusions/thoughts…

“How can boys dominate girls when there are no girls there to be dominated?”

“Inequality is the reason why girls and boys often compete for different kinds of status and why girls often assert power in more devious ways than boys”

(i.e backstabbing and rumour spreading)

“Saying that boys and men talk to gain status while girls and women talk to make connections, or that male talk is competitive and female talk is cooperative, both oversimplifies the realities of linguistic behaviour and fails to explain the reasons why certain gender related tendencies exist”

Theorists?

Throughout the text, Cameron contradicts Tannen’s views by using other studies to contrast them. Tannen states that women are more cooperative and men are more competitive, however this is not entirely the case as shown in the article.

She also contrasts with theorist Robin Lakoff, who says women fail to challenge others and they use supportive talk. In some cases women do not challenge others, however clearly sometimes they do not mind doing so, which opposes Lakoff’s views that women keep a low profile in conversation, and use superpolite forms and empty adjectives.

Overall thoughts…

Overall, Cameron’s views can be seen as valid. She proves herself by using findings from important studies. It is clear that women do in fact challenge each other, and the stereotypes of gender interaction are not entirely correct.

However, women do have conversations where there is no challenges, however most of men’s do. When women challenge each other it appears to be more in a ‘bitchy’ manner to put each other down, but men appear to use conflict to gain status and get respect off their friends/provide humour.

I believe it is the context of the conversation that provokes how the genders speak. Women on women who get on well appear to not confront, however when there is a battle of social status a lot of confrontation can occur. Men seem to try to avoid arguments, but use conflict with good friends whom they are comfortable with. When males and females interact, it appears men use conflict to try and show off to make the women look at them in a more powerful way.

To conclude, there is a lot of support to back up Cameron’s views, but we cannot assume Tannen and Lakoff etc are wrong, it depends entirely on the people who are having the conversation, the location and the context.

5. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – by Deborah Cameron


}  Cameron reckons that today men and women are under the illusion that they both speak the same “language.” Although evidence suggests they don’t.

}  A man may be English and a women may be English, however this does not mean they speak the same “language” as one another, if they did why would there be female and male language confusion.

That is far from what is actually happening.

}  What Deborah Cameron is tackling to describe in her article is the idea that there is a increasing issue between men and women understanding what one another are uttering. However she questions whether it is just a myth?

Crosstalk…

}  Cameron comments on the work that Tannen and Grumperz carried out together.

}  One investigation carried out by both linguists observed how people of different ethnicities interacted and communicated.

}  In a cafeteria setting it appeared White people using the food services were angered by how the Asian workers enquired if gravy was wanted on their food.

}  The Asian workers seem to say the word “gravy” with falling intonation making it seem that whether they wanted it or not, they were getting gravy on their food. They had meant it to mean a question however English language users always raise their intonation when asking a question, not lower it.

}  This however is not what was intended. The Asian workers were asking a question however their falling intonation did not make it seem like a question to the White listeners who would expect risen intonation when asking a question.

}  When listening to the recordings taken by Grumperz, the Asian workers still felt they had said it as a question form. Whilst the white workers still believed they were being told it was gravy rather than thinking they were being asked if they wanted it.

Cross talking it seems can cause confusion between ethnicities just as it is said to cause misunderstanding between men and women.

Daniel Maltz and Ruth Borker
Use of supportive minimal responses…

}  These two linguists also worked alongside Tannen and Grumperz and concluded for themselves that women tend to use more minimal responses in order to support a conversation.

}  However, it seems many men mistake what is meant by women typically using these minimal responses.

Minimal supportive responses tend to have a different meaning for men than they do for women. Just as intonation differed in meaning for Asian and White people.

However Cameron feels there is no strong evidence that minimal responses do mean different things for men and women. It could be mistakably a myth.

}  Maltz and Borker:

Minimal responses can be used to mean “Yes, I’m listening to you” whereas men used them to mean “Yes, I agree with you”.

However Cameron is unsure that there is any difference in understanding.

To accept this belief, Cameron says we need to accept that men and women use linguistic forms differently and they are completely unfamiliar with each other’s. This is unlikely.

Cameron comments there is no evidence that minimal responses do mean different things to men and women.

Speaking Directly…

}  Cameron has found through reading and her own research that women shy away from giving orders. However by being tentative with language they don’t necessarily confuse men with their conversation.

Men find female conversation “manipulative and confusing” because women speak with very little direction.

}  However, Cameron feels as long as men have some knowledge on female interaction forms they can apply what they know to any interaction in order to make sense of it.

“The groceries are in the car”. Does this mean “Would you bring in the groceries?”

}  Women would typically and usually speak the first utterance however for men they would not necessarily interpret what is implied by the female speaker to what she meant by it.

}  By saying the utterance, women are asking for the groceries to be brought in. However generally it is found men do not act on such implicature, instead ignoring it because it lacks order. However they do understand it.

}  Women also typically use the modal “could” rather than “would” suggesting women find it hard to give direct commands, instead they would use “could” as a tentative way to question something.

“could you empty the trash”
“would you empty the trash”

}  There is a difference.

}  Typically women would use the first utterance example.

}  Men would be more likely to use the second.

}  The difference in the modal verbs used causes a different meaning on what has been asked.

}  The would/could modal usage argument shows a sign of weakness with women and speech and their inability to directly say or ask something. However men should recognise the implicature.

}  Unless Autistic, where human communication is found confusing, most people would recognise what is meant as groceries belong in a house not a car. However because of the way the utterance is formulated there is an option to ignore the subtle hint, which men tend to do so.

Men seem to use indirect questions…

}  Cameron explains to us that men rarely directly ask something. Instead they are more likely to imply something through the use of an indirect question.

}  Example used by Cameron….

“is there any ketchup vera?”

It is perfectly well known that here the husband is asking his wife “please can you get me the ketchup” however instead he subtly and indirectly questions whether there is any as away of pushing Vera to automatically go and get some.

Just say No…

}  Women appear incapable of saying “no”.

}  Personally I feel this applies to me. I find it hard to say No at times just as many other women do as women try to be more polite and shy away from what they really want.

}  Cameron supports Lakoff’s view here that women tend to use more super polite forms and use hedging such as “sort of” and “kind of” when tentatively answering a question.

Women try to go for a “soften the blow” response, rather than adopting a harsh “just say no” attitude. However this can be enough to get an opinion across according to Cameron

}  Men tend to have the “Just say no” attitude.

}  Men find it easier to say no to something more so than women do.

}  The main example used by Cameron is sex.

}  It is apparent that women find it hard to reject sex with a man, a more common way of turning it down is to say “I’ve got a headache” or other such used excuses.

}  It seems women should try and learn to be more direct with their response and say “No” to something they don’t want rather than trying to think of an excuse that somebody will see straight through.

}  However Cameron reckons men understand full when women are turning down sex.

However unless they use a straightforward “No” response the intimacy will continue and essentially the woman could be raped.

Cameron uses the story of the man who was trialled for rape against two women who claimed to have turned down sex although not with a direct “No” but a soften the blow tactic.

The man accused claimed he didn’t realise they were turning sex down however Cameron finds this difficult to believe. The man would have known if the woman was properly up for sex or not.

Still understood by men…

}  Women’s features used rather than them saying “No” directly…

  • Delay in Response
  • Hedging Expression
  • A “softening” remark. “I’d love to but…”
  • An acceptable reason for refusing.

}  At times it is best to be more confrontational than be afraid of speaking what you want.

}  Zimmerman and West Dominance Model- Proven right. Men appear more aggressive with language use, women are more tentative but still understood.

Overall…

}  Cameron presents the case that women and men differ in their language use to the extreme that may be we don’t even “talk the same language”. However she does feel they can still understand one another.

}  Cameron doesn’t however believe conflicts between men and women are caused by misunderstanding language.

Conflicts are said to go deeper than language use.

6. Put down that paper and talk to me!”: Rapport-talk and Report-talk – DEBORAH TANNEN

WHAT IS THE MAIN CONTENTION OF THE TEXT?

Men use report talk as a way of competition and are a lot more confident than women speaking in a larger group of people. However, they don’t find it necessary to speak about how they are feeling etc.

Women use rapport talk more often, as a way of developing relationships and connections. They are more cooperative than competitive and can talk about anything. They are more confident speaking in smaller groups including people they are familiar with and don’t mind what they talk about. The idea that women should not speak in public is also raised. The idea that women should be seen and not heard is brought up.

Different opinions on relationships between men and women due to the above ideas. I.e. Men don’t feel the need to talk to women often, however as women are more confident talking to people they have formed a relationship with they want to talk to men at home about how they are feeling, what’s new etc. Men do not feel the need to talk about such things.

Women are said to talk more than men. However it depends on the situation they are both in as to who talks more. Obviously in a more private group of people, women will be the ones who talk the most and in a more public group, men.

TANNEN MAKES IT CLEAR THAT WOMEN USE RAPPORT TALK AND MEN USE REPORT TALK AND EMPHASISES THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOTH. SHE CLAIMS THAT WOMEN OBVIOUSLY FEEL MORE CONFIDENT SPEAKING TO SMALLER GROUPS OF PEOPLE AND THEREFORE MEN FEEL MORE CONFIDENT SPEAKING IN LARGER GROUPS OF PEOPLE WHERE THEY CAN SHOW OFF.  DUE TO THIS, TANNEN THINKS THERE ARE DIFFERENT SITUATIONS WHICH CAUSE MEN AND WOMEN TO TALK MORE OR LESS. SHE RAISES THE PROBLEM THAT ALTHOUGH MEN ARE LIVELY AND TALKATIVE IN LARGE GROUPS, THEY DO NOT TALK TO THEIR WIVES AND GIRLFRIENDS AT HOME.

HOWEVER

TANNEN CLAIMS THAT THE LACK OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN HUSBAND AND WIFE AT HOME MAY BE DUE TO THE FACT THAT MEN DO NOT FEEL THE NEED TO SHARE THEIR FEELINGS ETC. WITH OTHERS. WOMEN GROW UP TALKING WITH FRIENDS ABOUT HOW THEY FEEL AND WHATS NEW IN THEIR LIVES. HOWEVER MEN GREW UP KEEPING THAT INFORMATION TO THEMSELVES. LOOKING AT THE RAPPORT/REPORT THEORY, TANNEN ALSO CONTRADICTS THIS IDEA AS SHE LOOKS AT THE EXAMPLE OF A WOMAN EXPERT BEING GRANTED AUTHORITY IN FRONT OF HER AUDIENCE AND THEREFORE BECOMING MORE CONFIDENT TO SPEAK IN FRONT OF A LARGER CROWD.

EXAMPLE 1:

“ HE GESTURED TOWARDS HIS WIFE, WHO HAD SAT SILENTLY BESIDE HIM ON THE OCUCH THROUGHOUT THE EVENING AND SAID, “SHE’S THE TALKER IN OUR FAMILY….WHEN I COME HOME FROM WORK, I USUALLY HAVE NOTHING TO SAY, BUT SHE NEVER RUNS OUT. IF IT WERENT FOR HER WE’D SPEND THE WHOLE EVENING IN SILENCE.”

THIS SUPPORTS THE IDEA THAT WOMEN ARE UNCOMFORTABLE UNLESS SPEAKING IN A SMALL GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT THEY ARE FAMILIAR WITH. THE WOMAN IN THE EXAMPLE HAD NOT SPOKEN ALL NIGHT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE, HOWEVER THE MAN STATES THAT WHEN THEY GET HOME AND IT IS JUST THE TWO OF THEM, HIS WIFE DOES NOT STOP TALKING.

EXAMPLE 2:

“WHEN WE GO OUT HE’S THE LIFE OF THE PARTY. IF I HAPPEN TO BE IN ANOTHER ROOM, I CAN ALWAYS HEAR HIS VOICE ABOVE THE OTHERS, BUT WHEN WERE AT HOME HE DOESNT HAVE MUCH TO SAY, I DO MOST OF THE TALKING.”

THIS PROVES THE THEORY THAT MEN USE MORE REPORT TALK, AS A WAY OF COMPETITION AND ARE THEREFORE CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO SPEAK IN FRONT OF LARGE GROUPS. HOWEVER, WHEN THE AUDIENCE SIZE DECREASES THEY NO LONGER WANT TO TALK.

EXAMPLE 3:

USES AN EXAMPLE FROM A WOMAN WHO WROTE IN TO ANN LANDERS; “MY HUSBAND NEVER SPEAKS TO ME WHEN HE COMES HOME FROM WORK. WHEN I ASK, “HOW DID EVERYTHING GO TODAY?” HE SAYS, “ROUGH” OR “ITS A JUNGLE OUT THERE” (WE LIVE IN JERSEY AND HE WORKS IN NEW YORK CITY.) IT’S A DIFFERENT STORY WHEN WE HAVE GUESTS OR GO VISITING. PAIL IS THE GABBIEST GUY IN THE CROWD – A REAL SPELLBINDER. HE COMES UP WITH THE MOST INTERESTING STORIES. PEOPLE HANG ON EVERY WORD. I THINK TO MYSELF ‘WHY DOESN’T HE EVER TELL ME THESE THINGS?’”

AGAIN RELATES TO THE THEORY THAT MEN ARE MORE CONFIDENT TO SPEAK IN LARGER GROUPS, AS A WAY OF ENTERTAINING PEOPLE AND GAINING CONVERSATION DOMINANCE. HOWEVER, THEY DO NOT FEEL THE NEED TO TALK TO SMALLER GROUPS OF PEOPLE TO DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS AND TALK ABOUT HOW THEY FEEL ETC.

EXAMPLE 4:

A WOMAN, KNOWING HER BOYFRIEND HAD SEEN A FRIEND ASKS “WHATS NEW WITH OLIVER?” HE REPLIED, “NOTHING”. BUT LATER IN THE CONVERSATION IT CAME OUT THAT OLIVER AND HIS GIRLFRIEND HAD DECIDED TO GET MARRIED. “THATS NOTHING?” THE WOMAN GASPED WITH FRUSTRATION AND DISBELIEF.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE THEORY THAT MEN DONT WANT TO TALK ABOUT HOW THEY ARE FEELING ETC.

EXAMPLE 6:

A MAN WHO WAS RECENTLY DIVORCED ENTERS A NEW RELATIONSHIP AND HE THINKS THAT THE RELATIONSHIP HE JUST ENTERED WAS ENDANGERED BY THE WOMANS PRACTICE OF TOSSING OUT HER PASSING THOUGHTS,BECAUSE EARLY IN THEIR COURTSHIP, MANY OF HER THOUGHTS WERE FEARS ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIPS. HE FELT SHE SHOULD HAVE KEPT THESE FEARS AND DOUBTS TO HERSELF AND WAITED TO SEE HOW THINGS TURNED OUT.

HE ALSO ADMITS THAT HE HIMSELF, NEVER EXPRESSED HIS FEARS AND MISGIVINGS ABOUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP AT ALL. IF HE’S UNHAPPY HE NEVER TELLS HER AND HIS UNHAPPINESS BECOMES A KIND OF DISTRACTING COLDNESS.

THE FACT THAT AS SOON AS THE NEW RELATIONSHIP WAS FORMED, ALTHOUGH THE WOMAN HAD DOUBTS ABOUT HOW IT WAS GOING, SHE STILL SHARED THEM SHOWS THAT WOMEN ARE OPEN TO TALKING ABOUT HOW THEY FEEL. AS A KNOCK ON EFFECT OF NOT WANTING TO TALK ABOUT HIS FEELINGS, HE KEPT THEM TO HIMSELF AND HIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS HER BECAME COLD AND UNWELCOMING. THIS IS WHERE WOMEN GET THE FEELING THAT MEN DO NOT WANT TO TALK TO THEM AT ALL.  WOMEN PREFER TO EXPRESS DISSATISFACTIONS AND DOUBTS AS AN ANITDOTE TO THE ISOLATION AND DISTANCE THAT WOULD RESULT FROM KEEPING THEM TO THEMSELVES.

EXAMPLE 7:

ELEANOR SMEAL, PRESIDENT OF THE FUND FOR THE FEMINIST MAJORITY WAS A GUEST ON A CALL IN RADIO TALK SHOW, DISCUSSING ABORTION – A SUBJECT THAT IS OF DIRECT CONCERN TO WOMEN. YET DURING THE SHOW, ALL THE CALLERS EXCEPT TWO WERE MEN. ALTHOUGH THE AUDIENCE FOR THE SHOW WAS EVENLY SPLIT BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN, THE MAJORITY OF THE CALLERS WERE MEN.

WOMEN DO NOT CALL IN OFTEN BECAUSE DOING SO WOULD MEAN PUTTING THEMSELVES ON DISPLAY, CLAIMING PUBLIC ATTENTION FOR WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY, CATAPULTING THEMSELVES ONTO CENTRE STAGE. WOMAN DO NOT LIKE TO SPEAK IN FRONT OF MANY PEOPLE FOR FEAR OF BEING JUDGED.

SHE THEN CONTINUES TO SAY “WHEN I AM GUEST, MY POSITION OF AUTHORITY IOS GRANTED BEFORE I BEGIN TO SPEAK. WERE I TO CALL IN, I WOULD BE CLAIMING THE RIGHT ON MY OWN. I WOULD HAVE TO ESTABLISH MY CREDIBILITY BY EXPLAINING WHO I AM, WHICH MIGHT SEEM SELF-AGGRANDIZING, OR NOT EXPLAIN WHO I AM AND RISK HAVING MY COMMENTS IGNORED OR NOT VALUED. I AM COMFORTABLE LECTURING TO GROUPS NUMBERING IN THE THOUSANDS, I RARELY ASK QUESTIONS FOLLOWING ANOTHER LECTURER’S TALK, UNLESS I KNOW BOTH THE SUBJECT AND THE GROUP VERY WELL.

RELATES TO THE IDEA, WOMEN ARE ONLY CONFIDENT SPEAKING IN FRONT OF PEOPLE IF THEY  ARE FULLY AWARE OF THE TOPIC BEING DISCUSSED. IF THEY HAVE BEEN GIVEN SOME SORT OF AUTHORITY AND ARE ACCEPTED IN THAT GROUP THEY FEEL CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO TALK, NO MATTER WHAT THE SIZE. THIS IS BECAUSE THE SENSE OF AUTHORITY MAKES THEM FEEL THEY ARE IN A SMALLER, MORE PRIVATE GROUP.

WHAT OTHER THEORISTS DOES THE AUTHOR REFER TO?

BARBARA AND GENE EAKINS – Tape recorded and studied seven university faculty meetings. They found that, with one exception, men spoke more often and, without exception, spoke for a longer time. The men’s turns ranged from 10.66 to17.07 seconds, while the women’s turns only ranged from 3 to 10 seconds. This supports the theory that although women are stereotypically seen as more talkative, this is not always true. As the faculty meetings will be a more public event, in terms of the number of people attending, women are less likely to want to talk during the meeting. Or it may be that because men use report talk for competition, to dominate the conversation. This has an effect on the overall number of seconds a woman spoke for.

MARJORIE SWACKER – Recorded question-and-answer sessions at academic conferences. When it came to volunteering and being called on to ask questions, women contributed only 27.4%. Women’s questions also took less than half the time of those asked by men. This happened, Swacker showed because men tended to preface their questions with statements, ask more than one question and follow up the speaker’s answer with another question or comment. Regardless of the number of women and men in the audience, men almost invariably ask the first question, more questions, and longer questions. This again relates to the idea that men are more comfortable with speaking in a public group, with more people.

DALE SPENDER – Suggests that most people feel that women, like children, should be seen and not heard, so any amount of talk from them seems like too much. If women and men talk equally in a group, people think the women talked more, so there is truth to Spender’s view. Another explanation is that men think women talk a lot because they hear women talking in situations where men would not: on the telephone, or in social situations where they are not discussing topics that men find inherently interesting or, like the couple at the women’s group (first example) at home alone, in other words, in private speaking.

ALICE GREENWOOD – The idea that the home is a place where women are free to talk, and where they feel the greatest need for talk, with those they are closest to. She carried out a study of a conversation that took place between her three children. When discussing dinner guests, her daughter said that she would not want to invite people that she didn’t know well because she would have to be “polite and quiet”. Her other daughter said she wanted her friend round so that she could go crazy and also didn’t have to worry about her manners. However, her son said that he didn’t care about manners and just wanted friends around with whom he could go crazy and have a laugh with. The girls comments show that being close means that they can talk freely and being with strangers means they have to watch what they say and do. This insight hold a clue to the riddle of who talks more, women or men.

CAROL MITCHEL – Studied joke telling on a college campus. She found that men told most of their jokes to other men, but they also told many jokes to mixed groups and to women. Women, however, told most of their jokes to other women, fewer to men and even fewer to groups that included men as well as women. Men preferred and were more likely to tell jokes when they had an audience at least two, often four or more. Women preferred a small audience of one or two, rarely more than three. Many women flatly refused to tell jokes they knew if there were four or more in the group, promising to tell them later in private. Relates to the idea that women will not speak in larger groups, however men are happy to speak in front of a few people.

Selected Quotations from Essay:

“Throughout history, women have been punished for talking too much or in the wrong way.”

Later relates to the example of  Alice Greenwood, asking her three children who they would like as dinner guests at a party. The girls both answered, that they would like people they know to come as then they do not have to watch what they say and do. Contradicts the idea that women are the ones that speak too much.

“ the first voice to be heard asking a question is almost always a man’s.”

Again relates to the stereotypical view that women talk more than men. If this is true, why is it men who are always the first to ask a question?

“To him, talk is for information. So when his wife interrupts his reading, it must be to inform him of something that he needs to know.”

One of Tannen’s main contentions of the article, is that men do not feel the need to talk to express their feelings etc. This supports this view as the man she is using for this quote clearly feels that the only reason to talk is to exchange ideas.

I THINK IT IS UNFAIR TO SUGGEST THAT WOMEN TALK MORE, LIKEWISE IT IS UNFAIR TO SAY THAT MEN TALK MORE ASWELL. THIS IS DEPENDENT ON THE SITUATION OF THE CONVERSATION. E.G. WHEN TANNEN STATES THAT WHEN SHE IS A GUEST SPEAKER, SHE HAS BEEN GRANTED AUTHORITY ALREADY SO IS HAPPY TO SPEAK.

I DO BELIEVE THAT WOMEN TALK MORE IN SMALLER GROUPS OF PEOPLE AND BY ASKING QUESTIONS LIKE “WHAT’S NEW..” “HOW ARE YOU?” THEY ARE TRYING TO DEVELOP A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PARTICIPANT.

I ALSO AGREE THAT BECAUSE MEN GROW UP DOING ACTIVITIES TOGETHER RATHER THAN TALKING A LOT WITH THEIR FRIENDS, THEIR OPINION ON WHAT TO SHARE WITH OTHERS IS DIFFERENT TO WOMEN, WHO GROW UP TALKING TO THEIR FRIENDS ABOUT EVERYTHING.

7. Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers – Deborah Tannen


  • Male-female conversation is always a cross-cultural communication. This is when their habits learnt from past experiences differ because of their varied treatment from the time they were born and how they were spoken to.
  • As adults they reinforce patterns established in childhood, and females and males therefore have different expectations about the role of talk in relationships, which can lead to misunderstandings .

His and Her Conversational Styles

  • There are many differences between men and women in conversation, and an example of this is how men and women think a relationship should be when it becomes long- term.
  • The majority of women think expect the man to know what she wants without having to tell him, whereas men believe after the amount of time they have been together, they should be able to tell each other anything.
  • This is because women feel the need to have greater levels of involvement with their partner whereas men prefer to have more independence. Being understood without saying what you mean shows high levels of involvement and this is why women think it is important.
  • Women are often more attuned to how men convey meaning in how their words are spoken and through meta-messages, which are a form of indirectness, and men find this mysterious calling it ‘women’s intuition.’
  • Women are more likely to be indirect and like to agree with each other through negotiation, and this can often be seen as them being unsure of what they want even though they are trying to be nice.

Women Listen for Meta messages

  • A meta-message is defined as ‘a message about a message.’ Your non- verbal behaviour is constantly giving people Meta messages about you and the information you are providing. For example, the type of message being sent, the status of the messenger/receiver and the context in which the message is being sent.
  • Women are more attuned because they are more focused on involvement in relationships, meta- messages are how they are established and maintained.
  • An example of confusion through females picking up meta- messages is if a woman says to her partner ‘What’s wrong?’ because his brow is furrowed, but since he was only thinking about lunch, her expression of concern makes him feel under scrutiny.
  • Another way trouble in relationships is caused between men and women is by the use of pronouns.
  • Women often feel hurt when their partners use ‘I’ or ‘me’ in a situation where they would use ‘we’ or ‘us’. For example if a man says ‘I think I’ll go for a walk,’ his partner would feel specifically uninvited, even if he claims she would have been welcome to join him.
  • This shows meta- messages can be seen in what is not set as well as what is said.

Messages and Meta Messages in Talk Between Grown Ups

  • Here is the description of an argument between two parents, Jake and Louise with examples of messages and meta messages.
  • Jake criticises Louise for not responding when their daughter, Edie, called her. His comment leads to a fight, even though they’re both aware that this one incident is not in itself important.
  • Louise ignores Jake’s message- the question of whether or not she responded when Edie called- and goes for the meta message: his implication that she’s a bad mother, which Jake insistently disclaims. When Louise explains the signals she’s reacting to, Jake not only discounts them but is angered at being held accountable not for what he said but how he looked- his stare.

‘Talk to Me’

  • An article in a popular newspaper reports that one of the five most common complaints of wives about their husbands  is ‘He doesn’t listen to me any more.’ Another is ‘He doesn’t talk to me any more.’
  • Political scientist Andrew Hacker noted that lack of communication, while high on women’s lists of reasons for divorce, is much less often mentioned by men.

Growing Up Male and Female

  • Children whose parents have foreign accents don’t speak with accents, because they learn to talk like their peers.
  • Between the ages of five and fifteen, when children are learning to have conversations, they mainly play with friends of their own sex, so it’s not surprising they learn different ways of having and using conversation.
  • Little girls tend to play in small groups or in pairs, and their social life usually centres around a best friend. Friendships are made, maintained and broken by talk, especially secrets. It’s hard for newcomers to get into these tight groups but anyone who does is treated equally. If girls can’t cooperate, the group breaks up.
  • Little boys tend to play in larger groups often outdoors, and spend more time doing things than talking. It’s easy for boys to get into the group but not everyone is accepted as an equal. Once in the group, boys must jockey for their status in it and their talk is often competitive about who is the best at what.

From Children to Grown Ups

  • Women want their partners to be a new and improved version of a best friend, which gives them a soft spot for men who tell them secrets.
  • Men expect to do things together and don’t feel anything is missing if they don’t have heart-to-heart talks all the time. If they do, the meaning of them may be opposite for men and women. To women, the relationship is working as long as they can talk things out, whereas to men the relationship isn’t working out if they have to keep working it over.
  • If she keeps trying to get talks going to going to save the relationship, and he keeps trying to avoid them because he sees them as weakening it, then each one’s efforts to preserve the relationship appear to the other as reckless endangerment.

‘You’re Not Listening to Me’

  • Whether or not someone is listening only that person can really know. But we judge whether we think others are listening by signals we can see- not only their verbal responses but also their eye contact and little listening noises like ‘mhm,’ ‘uh-huh’, and ‘yeah’, which give the go-ahead for talk.
  • Maltz and Borker report that women and men have different ways oh showing that they’re listening. Women make, and expect more of these noises, so when men are listening to women they are likely to make such noises for her to feel like they are really listening. When women are listening to men, making more listening noises than men expect may give the impression they’re impatient or exaggerating their show of interest.
  • Women tend to use them just to show they’re listening and understanding and men tend to use them to show they agree.
  • This can cause misunderstanding because a woman would still use them even if they don’t agree with what he is saying, and if later she this is revealed he may feel like she has misled him. Contrary to this, if a man doesn’t agree with what the woman is saying and he doesn’t make these noises, she’s going to think he’s not listening to her.

‘Why Don’t You Talk About Something Interesting?’

  • Men and women’s assumptions to what is interesting are different.
  • It seems natural for women to tell and hear about what happened today, who turned up at the bus stop, who called and what she said, because the telling of them proves involvement- that you care about each other.
  • Since it’s not natural for men to talk in this way, they focus on facts about topics such as sports, politics, history or how things work. Women often perceive the telling of facts as lecturing which they carry the meta message: I’m the teacher, you’re the student. I’m knowledgeable, you’re ignorant.

Conversations About Conversations

  • When women talk about what seems obviously interesting to them, tone of voice, timing, intonation and wording are all re-created in order to explain and dramatise.
  • If men tell about an incident and give a brief summary instead, the woman tends to question.
  • If she asks ‘What exactly did he say?’, and ‘How did he say it,’ the man probably can’t remember. If she continues to press him he may feel as if he’s being grilled.

8. The sounds of silence: How men silence women in marital relations  -Victoria Leto DeFrancisco


DeFrancisco said that her reason for carrying out her study was because she experienced dissatisfaction in conversing with some men; a dissatisfaction shared with the woman below:

“I want him to tell me what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling…. About a month ago I said, ‘Hal talk to me, just don’t sit there like a bump on a log. Talk to me…’”

She also said her project was influenced by the growing body of research on gender and conversation. She believes many earlier studies have seemed to accept gender differences as a given and have failed to consider social or relational contexts.

She thought that the most interesting and challenging research was that that tried to link larger social hierarchies to the less assuming, day-to-day interactions between women and men. Nancy Henley called this the study of micropolitics; larger social inequalities can be observed in the miniature world of our personal relations where these inequalities are created, maintained and even justified.

DeFrancisco looked at the work of Pamela Fishman and said that this was one of the most naturalistic examinations of ongoing interactions. Fishman found from her studies that women worked harder to initiate and maintain conversations than the men, but were less successful in their efforts. Her conclusion was that women do the ‘shitwork’ of conversation. DeFrancisco said that this controversial thesis made an important connection between other domestic duties traditionally ascribed to women and the work of conversational development and relational maintenance.

She believed, however, that Fishman’s work still omitted an important source of information: the individual speaker’s views.

So consequently, she chose to extend Fishman’s methods of studying conversational development in ongoing interactions by adding private interviews. Her reason for adding this was to discover the individuals’ communication preferences (likes and dislikes) in reviewing specific interactions with their spouses.

When she combined these methods she found several intricate means by which these women have been silenced, not only by the non-responsive men in their lives, but also by the social science methods commonly used in such communication research.

Participants and methods

  • There were seven couples in the study.
  • The couples lived in tow medium-sized Midwestern cities.
  • Their ages ranged from 21-63.
  • They had lived together for between 2 and 35 years.
  • This was the first marriage for all persons involved.
  • All of the participants described their marital relationships ass being generally satisfying and stable, and their descriptions of relational and domestic duties suggested they follow fairly traditional gender-role behaviour.
  • One woman described herself as Hispanic, the others were Anglo-Americans.
  • There was a tape recorder with an omnidirectional microphone in the central living area of each home for a week to 10 days, which produced an average of 12 hours of recording.
  • The participants were asked to run the recorder whenever both participants were present for an extended period of time and to go on about their regular household activities.
  • They had the right to erase recordings or turn off the machine but only two brief comments were reportedly erased.
  • After the taping, she spoke to each individual privately, where they listened to two or three different episodes, totalling approximately 30 minutes. The participant was asked to stop the recorder and note anything she or he liked or disliked about the episode.
  • Interviews were conducted  within one week of the tape recordings and lasted an average of 90 minutes.

What she was looking for

  • She worked with the transcripts (the episodes the participants reviewed plus an additional 30 minutes of interaction per couple), the actual recordings and participants’ comments to compile relative frequencies on the following conversational components identified as problematic in previous gender research:
  • Talk time
  • Question asking
  • Topic initiations
  • Topic success/failure
  • Turn taking violations including interruptions
  • Turns at talk which seem minimal, delayed or complete failures to respond

Criteria for identifying conversational components

  • She began with the assumption most gender and conversation research ahs been based upon, Sacks et al.’s (1974) model of turn taking, which says that a turn at talk is seen as a right and an obligation to speak. It says that generally one person speaks at a time and speaker turns recur. Conversational partners are said to be conscious of their speaker/listener roles, as turns at talk tend to occur with few or no silences between. Therefore behavioural failures to follow these norms may be considered uncooperative, inattentive and turn-taking violations.
  • In her analyses, DeFrancisco included turn-taking violations that seemed delayed (1-3 seconds average), minimal (monosyllabic turns at talk ‘mhm’ ‘yeah’, not to be confused with active-listening cues), complete failure to take one’s turn at talk, the ‘no-response’ violation and interruptive (the listener begins to speak at a point that is unlikely to be a completion point in the current speakers’ utterance).
  • She soon realised that the opinions of Sacks and his colleagues’ model were not universal. Consequently, she based her identifications on the work of other theorists, such as Murray, Fishman and Tannen. These helped her to identify responses which directly shut off an attempted topic, topic changes and reactions of interviewees.
  • Talk time was measured with a hand-held stopwatch and total word count.

Results

  • Before delivering her results, DeFrancisco warns that reader not to make any conclusive judgements from her findings, and that instead it should be viewed as suggestive and not comprehensive. She also says that the patterns of behaviour and other ethnographic information are what is important, not the individual results.

Conclusion – men were relatively silent and that their behaviours silenced the women:

-        The no-response was the most common turn-taking violation, particularly for the men.

-        The women in this project worked harder to maintain interaction than the men, but were less successful in their attempts.

  • No responses accounted for 45% of the total 540 violations.
  • Interruptions were the second most common violations but only accounted for 24%
  • The women were responsible for 36% and the men for the rest.
  • The men were responsible for more turn-taking violations across all categories studied; no response – 68% by men, interruptions – 54% by men, delayed response – 70% by men and minimal responses – 60% by men.
  • Among the participants, interruptions were rarely listed as a complaint about their partners. The problem, particularly for the women, seemed to be more basic – getting a response at all.
  • She found several indicators which suggested communication was more important for women than men, that they worked harder at it, and yet were less successful.
  • The women talked more – 63% of total, yet seemed to have far less turn-taking violations – only 36% of total. They raised more topics – 63% of total but succeeded less often than the men in getting these developed into conversations – 66% succeeded compared to 76% for men.

She found when analysing the topics, that the sexes were both equally likely to raise all categories except one – personal emotions or concerns. DeFrancisco says that since there were only five instances of this topic initiation on all the tapes (all raised unsuccessfully by women), it seems reasonable to  suggest topic selection was generally not the problem and that when one person seems to do most of the decision-making regarding which topics are successful and which are not, that decision-making may be a form of control and silencing.

All the women expressed concern about getting their husband’s attention and mentioned the extra efforts they made to try to do so. One woman said she tries various things, such as quizzing him if she thought he had not been listening, guilt and jealousy strategies and purposely raising topics he enjoyed.

In contrast to the women’s efforts to encourage talk, they noted in the taped interactions a variety of what they termed ‘patronizing’ ‘put down’ and ‘tetchy’ behaviour by their husbands.

In the taped interactions, the men’s patronizing comments seemed to detour the women’s efforts to develop conversation.

When Sharon asked Jerry’s opinion about responding to a newspaper advertisement he warned, ‘be careful you don’t get into somethin you can’t get out of. Like don’t given em your credit card number’ to which she replied, ‘I know, I’m not stupid’

Other cases include when men try to silence women by cautioning them to stop worrying about a topic they had tried to discuss, for example ‘why worry about something until it happens?’ said by one of the husbands.

DeFrancisco also noticed ‘faked listening’ which is the husband would offer only token acknowledgments to make it seem like they are listening.

Example

  • An extract between a couple (on page 31) highlights many strategies used by a man to detour his partner’s topic and her response efforts.
  • When interviewing Bud about the conversation, he said he did not feel like talking at the time of the conversation and that he had ‘heard it all before’.
  • His lack of attentiveness was apparent:

-        He went outside twice during her stories

-        He seemed to diffuse her punchline for the first story

-        He rarely provided any apparent participative listening cues

-        He seemed to exhibit no-response violations

-        In the total 12.5 minute conversation, he had 18 turn-taking violations, she had 9

-        She raised 7 topics, 2 of which were unsuccessful. He raised 4 topics, all of which were successful.

  • Suggests that Mary was working harder at the conversation, but with less success than Bud.

Conclusion

  • DeFrancisco says that she is not trying to suggest that the men in this study failed to value talk at all, or that the stereotypical ‘silent male’ is a universal phenomenon. However, she’s says the men consistently preferred ‘not talking’ and/or ‘light conversation’ in their continual caution for conflict avoidance.
  • Both the women and men voiced desire to avoid conflict, but the strategies they preferred for doing so were different. The women chose to voice objections, seek compromises and talk out a problem. The men chose ‘unilateral conflict avoidance’ as shown by their desire to withdraw, for their wives to be less emotional, to have more efficient conflict resolutions and to generally avoid sensitive topics of discussion.
  • The men’s stated preference for conflict avoidance seemed consistent with their greater use of no-response violations because the conflict avoider is generally thought to be apathetic and uninterested.
  • The men seemed to be able to put forth less effort and still obtain their wishes more often than the women. The men seemed to have more control in defining the day-to-day reality of these couples’ communication styles, and the women did more of the adapting.

9. What do women and men compliment about each other? – Janet Holmes

  • Janet Holmes addresses this question by initially giving examples about what things can be complimented

1. Appearance compliment: ‘I like your outfit, Beth. I think I could wear that’

2. Ability/performance compliment: ‘Wow you played well today, Davy’

3. Possessions compliment: ‘Is that your flash red car?’

4. Personality compliment: ‘I’m very lucky to have such a good friend’

(Holmes 1986)

  • These four types of compliment show Holmes’ view that men and women compliment in diffferent ways about different things. She explains in order for an utterance to be seen as a compliment it must refer to something which is positively valued by the participants and attributed to the addressee.
  • Often, patterns occur within compliments as there is a tendency that women will be complimented more on their appearance than men. This is shown as data collected in New Zealand showed that 57% of all compliments women received were appearance related. Also, 61% of compliments between women are related to appearance compared to only 36% between men. Men overall prefer to compliment other males on possessions, but not women.
  • Holmes argues that unless a compliment is sarcastic then it can only be interpreted as a positively polite utterance. As compliments are interpreted as positive polite utterances, Holmes further argues that women use compliments as a way of fulfilling their positive polite function.
  • With regards to compliments about possessions Holmes feels it is a much more vulnerable type of compliment to interpret as in some cases a compliment about a person’s possession may come across as either desire or envy for the object in question. Therefore this reinforces the idea that men are more likely to see compliments to possessions as face threatening acts
  • Holmes feels that men find compliments about appearance embarrassing for example, if one man complimented another man’s tie, the man being complimented may be come shy and embarrassed and brush off the comment.
  • Wolfson (1983) comments that appearance compliments are rare between male Americans and suggests these compliments are perceived by males as big face threatening acts. He also shows that compliments on appearance are given and received by men in New Zealand but on many occasions these compliments cause surprise.
  • As men get embarrassed by compliments it shows their difference from women as they do not need to give or receive compliments in order to fulfil any functions. Also, many men have reported they do not feel comfortable in complimenting another mans appearance as they fear they may come across as homosexual.
  • David Britain gave support to the idea men do not compliment for fear of coming across as homosexual (Example 27, Page 73) in this example it takes a week for one male to compliment another on his new haircut which shows his unease.

Can a compliment be a power play?

  • It is said that people pay most compliments to their equals, Wolfson (1993) says ‘the overwhelming majority of all compliments are given to people of the same age and status as the speaker’.
  • A study into compliments in New Zealand showed that almost 80% of them were between status equals and occurred informally between friends.
  • However, there was still around 20% where the compliments were between people of differing status’ which presents the question of what is the function of compliments for men and women?
  • Wolfson showed that women receive more compliments than men which show their subordinate status in society, therefore there are more compliments to subordinates than superiors, despite gender.
  • Knapp et al. (1984) supports Wolfson’s ideas as this study found that most compliments occurred between status equals but when there was a mix of status’ the higher status participants complimented more often than lower status ones. Essentially, people are less willing to compliment those of a higher status than those of a lower status.
  • Also, higher status females are twice as likely to receive compliments than higher status men (Example 30, Page 75)
  • Troemel-Ploetz 1992 said that higher status males may be perceived as high risk addressees by both genders (Example 32, Page 75), but female gender overrides high status.
  • On the other hand, perhaps women are seen as more approachable as they value solidarity more highly than status.

9. Explanations of Women’s Linguistic Behaviour – Janet Holmes 1992

What is the central contention of the essay?

The essay investigates the question ‘Why do women use more standard forms than men?’

  • Holmes provides four main explanations which have been put forward by various linguists with examples to support each one then uses her own evidence to evaluate whether she thinks each is a plausible explanation.
  • She doesn’t argue for/against any theory in particular, rather that it is a mixture of all the theories which explain the differences in male and female use of standard/vernacular forms or that a different theory applies depending on the context of the situation.
  • She also argues against the initial question by saying that the question should in fact be ‘why don’t men use more standard forms?’ so that the ‘correct’ use of standard forms by women is not questioned, and they are not compared to men’s speech patterns as the norm. She also provides some evidence that women sometimes use more vernacular forms than men

The Explanations

  • The Social Status Explanation (women believe that the way the speak signals their social background or status and therefore use more standard speech forms as they are associated with higher social status)
  • Evidence of this theory is given with the example of women in New York and Norwich who reported that they used more standard forms than they actually did.
  • The explanation also mentions that women who are not in paid employment would use more standard forms to gain higher social status.
  • Holmes refutes this part of the theory with evidence from an American study that showed women in service jobs such as hotels used more standard forms as they were interacting with people who used them and women who stayed at home mainly interacted with each other, reinforcing their use of vernacular forms.
  • Similar information was found in an Irish working-class community, where the young women have left the town to find work were found to use more standard speech than the older women who stayed at home working.
  • Therefore, more of the examples used here refute the explanation indirectly and show that Holmes does not entirely believe that women’s use of standard forms is completely to do with gaining social status though it may play a part.
  • Women’s role as guardian of society’s values (society tends to expect ‘better’ behaviour from women than men and are seen to ‘model behaviour in the community’ and therefore this should be reflected in their use of standard speech forms.)
  • The example used to back this up is from New Zealand, where a Mrs Godley, who believed in the ‘civilising influence of women’ warned two men who were about to begin work on a farm that they should have ‘a lay figure of a lady, carefully draped’ and they should ‘always behave before it as if it was their mother’
  • This example is evidence that men are seen to misbehave more often or act in a less ‘correct’ manner around each other as she describes the men’s behaviour as ‘semi-barbarous’.
  • The explanation also mentions the fact that women use more standard forms as they have to serve as models for children’s speech. Holmes disagrees with this as standard forms are more associated with formal interactions and surely interactions between mother and child are ‘relaxed and informal’, ‘intimate and mainly unobserved’ therefore would not necessarily contain more standard speech
  • Subordinate groups must be polite (it is argued that women are a subordinate group compared to men and therefore must speak carefully and politely in order to avoid offending men)
  • However Holmes refutes this theory by saying that it is possible to be ‘polite’ whilst speaking in a more vernacular regional accent such as Liverpudlian and equally possible to be offensive speaking in a ‘standard’ RP accent. She backs this up with the example of Lord Huntly offensively describing Mr Brown as ‘intolerable’.
  • She also questions whether ‘polite’ speech is always seen as ‘standard’.
  • She backs up the more sophisticated version of the explanation in which women use standard speech to protect their ‘face needs’ and those of others which refers to the nature of women and their sensitivity to others feelings- a need to please which is often not found in men.
  • Vernacular forms express machismo (and therefore conversely standard forms are associated with female values and femininity and women may not want to use vernacular forms which have masculine connotations)
  • This simultaneously answers the question ‘why don’t men use more standard forms?’. Holmes refers to evidence of speakers on a tape who used more vernacular forms being identified as more likely to win in a street fight  and men from Norwich who claimed to use more vernacular forms than they actually did.
  • This links in with covert and overt prestige, suggesting that for men, these vernacular forms have covert prestige.
  • Holmes highlights the evidence that the use of standard forms by female teachers in the classroom is rejected ‘more vigorously’ by boys than it is by girls and therefore male use of vernacular forms is a reaction to ‘overly influential female norms’
  • She has also found some evidence against this theory, in that are working class women who use more vernacular forms seen as masculine and tough? This is backed up by example 9 in which a 70 year old woman is speaking in a non-standard manner.
  • She concludes with a question denying the theory: ‘Why should forms most typically associated with informal relaxed contexts be indentified as masculine?’ which suggests that although she has found solid evidence to back up the theory, she still doesn’t believe it to be entirely true.

Theorists

  • Holmes never refers specifically to any linguists  but her ideas and the explanations she is analysing do correspond with some theorists ideas.
  • The general theory that women use more standard forms than men relates to Robin Lakoff’s predictions (1975); such as ‘women use hypercorrect grammar and pronunciation’ and ‘avoid coarse language and expletives’.
  • Holmes’s denial of the fact women do use more standard forms than men is backed up by Dale Spender’s research in 1980 in which he states that the assumption that there is such a thing as ‘women’s language’ biases the results.
  • Here, Holmes could also refer to Deborah Cameron and her ‘Myth of Mars and Venus’ theory which denies the idea that women and men speak differently at all and the results are biased.
  • Although it is not related to gender, Labov’s  research into language and social class in 1966 in New York is linked heavily with the social status theory. The fact that lower middle class speakers were conscious about their use of the post vocatic R and wished to make an impression is similar to women claiming they used more standard forms than they actually did in order to gain social status.

Quotations

  • In assigning women to a particular social class, researchers in early social dialect studies often used the woman’s husband’s occupation as their major criterion”: Her point here is that women may have been miscategorised as not all women marry men from the same social class and therefore the data collected will be invalid due to miscategorisation. The relation to the wider issue is that generalisations can’t be made and researchers have to be precise with their research.
  • “Women tend to be more cooperative conversationalists than men”: This suggests that women cooperate more with the educated, middle class style of speech of the interviewer than men. Whilst women converge, men are more likely to diverge with more non-standard forms which may be a factor contributing to the different patterns found between men and women’s speech. Her main point is that the context and the influence of the interviewer has to be considered.
  • “Overall then, the nature of the relationship between gender and speech is complex and the way gender interacts with a range of other factors needs careful examination in each speech community.” This quote is summarises all of her ideas well.

Conclusion

  • The author’s contentions are sensible and well backed up therefore I agree with the majority of what she says.
  • I believe more strongly than her that there is less of a difference between men and women’s use of standard forms due to my own experience of men and women in conversation. I have found that it is dependent on the context, environment and audience but in general the use of standard forms is similar.
  • However this may be because the people on whom I am basing this evidence all come from similar social backgrounds and therefore will speak in a similar manner.
  • There is lots of evidence to support the author, and she is in agreement with other linguists such as Dale Spender and Deborah Cameron.

10. WORLD’S APART? Mars and Venus in Childhood and Adolescence – Deborah Cameron

Deborah Cameron’s Central Point:

  • She is looking at the question of gender differences in the talk of adolescents in single sex groups.
  • Is it true that girls and women talk about ‘every little thing’ (Tannen) whereas boys and men ‘don’t talk about that much’ (Tannen)?
  • Is girls’ talk cooperative whilst boys’ talk is competitive?
  • If these differences do exist, is Tannen right about the reasons for them?

Cameron is arguing for – the claim that interaction in single sex groups still indicates the effect of gender inequalities

men and women, and that the inequalities of power within the single sex groups influences

the form that the ‘differences’ (Tannen’s Dominance and Difference Model) take.

Cameron is arguing against – Tannen’s claim that men and women are brought up essentially in different cultures

and therefore when they interact it is similar to cross cultural interactions between

people of different countries. (This research was conducted in opposition to Lakoff’s

male dominance in mixed sex conversation claims.)

What examples does Cameron use?

  1. Judith Baxter’s conversation between 14-15 year olds who voluntarily decided to work in single sex groups. Baxter told them to imagine that they are survivors of a plane crash in the desert and they have equipment scavenged from the wreckage. Their task was to rank the items in order of importance for their survival:

S: wouldn’t you need the sunglasses?

C: yeah, that’s what I think

S: because it would be really hot and protect yourself from the sun and you’d be able to see more

G: yeah, but if you’re trying to live, does it matter [whether you can see?

C:                                                                                      [you can go blind]

G: exactly, but if you’re trying to survive, does it really matter?

C: (sounding irritated) I wouldn’t [want to go blind

S:                                                        [it does, because if you were blind you wouldn’t be able to see

what you were doing and you would end up dying anyway. You’d have less chance of surviving

surviving anyway.

G: yeah, but you’re not likely to go blind unless you’re looking right up into the sun.

Baxter’s Findings:

  • Starts cooperatively but conflict develops as G repeatedly challenges the others – the participants interrupt each other, show irritation and don’t appear to reach a conclusion.
  • Difficult to reconcile this interaction with Tannen’s observations that girls ‘don’t challenge each other directly’ and are not interested in ‘jockeying for status.’ Gina makes three overt challenges and doesn’t seem concerned as to whether Charlotte and Sophie like her.
  • When Baxter interviewed them afterwards Sophie wasn’t there (by chance) and Charlotte complained about Sophie: ‘I didn’t agree with anything Sophie was saying. She wanted to be the leader. I felt a bit uncomfortable with that.’ Gina agreed.
  • This is surprising because it’s clear that Charlotte teams with Sophie against Gina.

Cameron’s Interpretation of these Findings:

  • Girls’ preoccupation with ‘being liked’ isn’t the opposite of boys’ concern with status, it is

actually a version of the same thing.

  • Popular girls tend to attract resentment from their peers when they try to assume leadership roles, whereas this isn’t as true for popular boys according to Judith Baxter.
  • Baxter suggests this is because girls themselves subconsciously agree to the view that overly dominant behaviour is less acceptable for females than males.
  • Male leadership is acceptable to both sexes, whereas a popular girl seen to be flaunting her status as a transgressions of the norms of femininity will be punished for it.
  • This is why girls do things more covertly, such as criticising others behind their backs and spreading rumours about them to undermine their authority.
  • ‘Girls are no less competitive than boys (and their peer groups are no less hierarchical); but the ideological opposition between femininity and power gives them less freedom to jockey for status in an obvious way.’

Five Important Quotations

1. ‘Childhood separation makes the two sexes as different in their ways of communicating as people of different nationalities or ethnicities.’ This is a quotation taken from Tannen’s ‘You Just Don’t Understand’ which Cameron sets out to research in this chapter. By the end Cameron concludes that this statement is incorrect because, using the example of Italians and Finns:

2. ‘For the average Finn, the behaviour of Italians is both unfamiliar and irrelevant. But the same surely cannot be said of males and females in one culture.’

3. ‘Some researchers have challenged the belief that girls generally rely on indirect strategies for establishing status hierarchies.’  Cameron continues her evaluation of Tannen’s claims by invoking the research of Marjorie Harness Goodwin which directly shows the assertive interaction of girls with boys:

4. ‘the girls give direct orders, challenge the relevance of what the boys are saying and directly contradict one of the boy’s statements.’

5. ‘I noticed a topic [in a student’s transcript of what men typically talk about] which took up more time than any other except for sport. The topic was other men: men the speakers disapproved of because, allegedly, they were gay.’  Cameron explores the fact that men gossip just as women do – it is an exercise that reinforces bonds between the participants and affirms their worth by contrasting them with the absent person being criticised.

Summary

  • When Tannen wrote ‘You Just Don’t Understand,’ she wanted to avoid the pitfalls of Lakoff’s dominance approach – Lakoff’s research on gender differences through speech was the best known at the time – which were either blaming men for oppressing women or women for lacking any assertiveness.
  • Tannen instead took a cross cultural approach to explain the phenomena seen by linguists, but again there are issues with this: there is a huge difference between the argument that Tannen attributes to dominance theorists – that men consciously set out to dominate women in conversation – and the argument of researchers like Baxter and Goodwin that the behaviour of both genders in influenced by the power structures of wider society.
  • It may seem that patterns of interaction in single-sex groups have nothing to do with inequality between the sexes – these inequalities are the reason why girls and boys often compete for different kinds of status in single sex groups, and why girls often assert power in more ‘devious’ ways than boys.
  • The contrast between dominance and difference is a false opposition because gender as a social system is about both simultaneously.
  • Recent research does support the claim that male and female peer group cultures are different in certain ways but it also suggests that inequalities of power or status influence the form these differences take.

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