Language patterns of women differs from men’s, according to recent gender theories. However, most of the authors focus on communication. In the below essay I would like to reflect on the socialization through gender and communication based on my own life experiences. According to moral and social development theories, it is evident that genders are separated on different levels; women who care and men who are fair, men who separate and women who connect and this reflects on their communication style. (Griffin, 2011, p. 82-83.) Below I would like to review the most significant 20th Century gender communication theory set by Tannen to examine whether applies to my own personality development and life.
I remember walking down the street with my male friend and seeing an old homeless person pushing a shopping trolley. I told my friend that I felt sorry for the guy, he replied that it was his choice, lack or judgment that made him live on the street. I answered that he was possibly a victim of a con and lost his home for that. We argued for a long time but could not agree, because our conflicting views.
This also confirms the idea that women use “rapport talk” while men use “report talk”. (Tannen) For women, and for me, talking is a form of self-expression and building connections, while for men, it is about expressing their own ideas and painting a positive image about themselves. Tannen (1992) confirms that women use more transactional language, while men do not like talking about their feelings. In my group, I can see these differences when we are having a conversation.
I have experienced differences in communication style at an early age. I always heard stories about my great-grandparents from my mother, not my father. His language, when I was a child, was more objective and practical. He was explaining how things worked, while my mother was trying to teach me through stories about others.
Lakoff (1995) confirms that women’s social position makes their speech more tentative. I have studied my own language, and indeed I do use more “would” and “could” than my male peers within the group. The use of “isn’t it?” is a form of asking for confirmation, and it is present in both my, my female peers’ and my mother’s language. (Tannen, 1992) While men state things like: “That is definitely good”, a woman would just use an approval adjective like: “great”. While O’Barr and Atkins (1980) challenged Lakoff’s theory stating that women’s language is “pointless”. Indeed, I do not agree with the classification. Even the authors state that well-educated and intellectual women use the same patterns as men. This also implies that men at a lower status would also be using the same language traits. Tannen confirms, however, that Still, it is important to note that in public men talk more than women, while in private life women talk more.”. (Tannen, 1992) Tannen also confirms that the concept that women talk more is not necessarity true. In an article (2007) she states: “Women’s rapport-talk probably explains why many people think women talk more”.
I believe that there are some significant differences in men’s and women’s language, and these are a result of the brain function qualities and attitudes. While looking at the patterns of men’s and women’s communication is a good way of understanding communication, over-generalizing the patterns based on gender is not the best approach. According to Tannen, “There are gender differences in ways of speaking, and we need to identify and understand them”.
Griffin, Em. (2011). A First Look at Communication Theory. McGraw Hill Higher Education. 8th edition.
Kramarae, C. (1981). Women and Men Speaking. Rowley, MA: Newberry House.
Tannen. D. (1992) You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation.
Lakoff, R. (1973) Language and Woman’s Place. Language in Society, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Apr., 1973), pp. 45-80
Tannen, D. (2007) Who Does the Talking Here? New York Times. July 15, 2007