Gender and Language

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Lexical Analysis of Gender and Language Theories Muna Mohammed Abbas College of Engineering/ Babylon University 1. Introduction The major thing that distinguishes human beings from animals is basically our way to communicate with each other by using language. We have words for specific things, emotions, expressions and it appears as though we have words for everything when thinking about it. In each language; words are constructed in a certain way. When working with language, it is quite possible to determine whether a word belongs to one stem or another just by looking at it even if the person has no clue of the word’s meaning which is quite fascinating. The question, Do men and women use language differently? played a…show more content…
There is no doubt that differences between the language used by men and the language used by women have been extensively observed and that ‘male and female conversational styles are quite distinct’ (O’Loughlin, 2000:2), what has been less clear is what the reasons for these differences might be. 4. Language and Gender Theories 4.1 Deficit and Dominance Theories These works led to the ‘dominance approach’ that provides a traditional, negative evaluation of women’s speech, which the authors contend is a direct consequence of women’s political and cultural subordination to men. Thus, women’s linguistic inadequacies are attributed to societal inequalities between men and women, where men’s conversational dominance appears to reflect the wider political and cultural domination of men over women (Freeman & McElhinny, 1996). Lakoff (1975) argues that women’s manner of speaking, which is different to men, reflects their subordinate status in society. Thus, women’s language is marked by powerlessness and tentativeness, expressed through the use of mitigators and inessential qualifiers, which effectively disqualifies women from positions of power and authority. In particular, Lakoff (1975) argues that women’s language style is deficient, lacking in authority and assertiveness. Lakoff (1975:43) also makes the interesting observation that women face a ‘double bind’ where they are criticized or scolded for not speaking like a lady but, at
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