LINGUIST List 15.2184

Sat Jul 31 2004

Sum: Gender and Normativity

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. Yishai Tobin, Gender and Normativity in Spoken Language - Sum

Message 1: Gender and Normativity in Spoken Language - Sum

Date: Wed, 28 Jul 2004 01:05:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: Yishai Tobin <>
Subject: Gender and Normativity in Spoken Language - Sum

I would like to first thank those who responded (see Linguist 15.2116)
with the following references: On prosody: Lowry, Orla. The stylistic
variation of nuclear patterns in Belfast English. Journal of the
International Phonetics Assocxiation. 2002. 32:1: 33-42 (showed female
speakers using fewer cases of vernacular intonation) (thanks to Mark
J. Jones, U. of Cambridge)

Sociolinguistic studies that attempt to reveal a correlation between
gender and preference for prestigious forms. One of the most
well-known is Labov's 1966 study of the /r/ variable in NewYork City -
''The Social Stratification of English in New York City.'' (see
alsoLabov (1972) - ''Sociolinguistic Patterns''). Labov states the
fact women are more class conscious than men. they display more
''linguistic insecurity'' (especially among the lower middle class).

Trudgill has also supported this claim in his work in Norwich - (1974)
''The Social Differentiation of English in Norwich'' and (1978)
'Sex,covert prestige, and linguistic change in the urban British
English of Norwich.' Language in Society 1: 179-96. He concludes that
women are more status conscious than men as far as the overtly
prestigious forms are concerned; on the other hand, men, especially of
the working class, associate the stigmatised (here, covertly
prestigious)forms with masculinity and toughness. In self-evaluation
tests, women claimed having used the prestigious forms more than they
actually did, whereas the men felt they used those forms less than the
amount recorded. This divergence in preference for overt/covert forms
in gender is one of the factors, he states, that leads to linguistic
change. This has been put forward by Susal Gal in studies of language
shift in Austria. (1979) ''Language Shift: Social Determinants of
Linguistic Change in Bilingual Austria.'' New York:Academic Press.
More studies conducted in 'western' contexts: Macaulay R. (1978)
'Variation and consistency in Glaswegian English' in P. Trudgill (ed)
''Sociolinguistic Patterns in British English.'' London: Edward
Arnold, pp 132 - 143. Shuy R.(1970) 'Sociolinguistic research at the
Centre for Applied LInguistics: the correlation of language and sex'
in ''International Days of Sociolinguistics.'' Rome: Istituto Luigi
Sturzo. Wolfram W. (1969) ''A Sociolinguistic Description of Detroit
Negro Speech.'' Washington DC: Center for Applied Linguistcs. Horvath
(1985) Variation in Australian English: The sociolects of
Sydney.Cambridge: CUP.

On a discourse level, there have been studies concerning politeness in
language and gender. The basic assumption here is women should be
more linguistically polite as they are deemed the ''judges of manners''
in society. Lakoff (1975) ''Language and Women's Place.'' New York:
Harper and Row. Other references: Brown (1990) 'Gender, politeness
and confrontation in Tenejapa.'' Discourse Processes 13: 123-41.
Finlayson (1995) 'Women's language of respect: isihlonipho sabafazi' in
Mesthrie (ed) Language and Social History: Studies in South African
Linguistics. Cape Town: David Philip, pp 140 - 53. Okamato (1995)
'''Tasteless Japanese' : Less feminine speech among young Japanese
women'' In Hall and Bucholtz (eds) ''Gender Articulated: Language
andthe Socially Constructed Self.'' New York and London: Routledge.
(Many thanks to Arista De Silva, University of Witwatersrand)

On gender-specific effects on prosody, but doesn't treat of normative issues.
author =Fitzsimons, Mary and Sheahan, Noirin and Staunton, Hugh},
title ={Gender and the integration of acoustic dimensions of
prosody: implications for clinical studies},
journal = {Brain and Language},
year = 2001,
volume = 78,
pages = {94--108},
annote = {Men spoke faster the women; Male pitch range on a semitone
scale was larger than the women's; male pitch slope was greater (as a
result of fast rate?),inter- vs intra-subject analysis confuses
me. effects are small. Pitch range is a fn of speech rate, but not
utterance length. pitch slope depends on length, but not rate.}
(thanks to Fred Cummins, University College Dublin)

Spanish sociolinguistic studies, including issues related to gender,
in Carmen Silva-Corval�n's (2001) Sociolong��stica y
pragm�tica del espa�ol. Washington: Georgetown University
Press. While Chapter 3 deals specifically with the topic many of the
studies reviewed throughout the book look at the gender variable plus
there are many references. (thanks to Andres Enrique-Arias,
Universidad de las Islas Baleares)
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