Sociolinguistic Approaches Towards Gender Differences

4 April 2015
A critical evaluation of two sociolinguistic studies which demonstrate the Difference and Dominance positions regarding the differences in female and male language usage.

This paper discusses the two contrasting theories regarding gender differences in speech: the Dominance approach and the Difference approach, by reference to Deborah Tannen?s study “You Just Don?t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation” and West and Zimmerman?s study “Sex Roles, Interruptions and Silences in Conversation”. The paper critically evaluates these positions and considers explanations for the differences in male and female languages usage. In conclusion, the paper reviews possible strategies to decrease the confusion, frustration and hurt that is caused by men and women?s contrasting speech styles.
“A wide range of socio-linguistic research shows that men and women do use speech in different ways. Yet interpretations of these differences, and arguments concerning what causes them are complex and varied. The two main stances taken when analyzing gender and language are a Dominance approach or a Difference approach, with some linguists taking a position somewhere in between the two. This paper evaluates two studies that demonstrate a Difference and a Dominance approach and explores the different ways in which they analyze gender differences in speech.”

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