Gender and Language The ideology of gender categories is typically enacted in linguistic practices; indeed, it is through language that the individual cultural understandings of gender categories are learned and the coordination of gender roles achieved (Foley 2001: 289) LANGUAGE AND GENDER • Sex versus Gender • Sexual differences: masculine and feminine • Gender categorization: Social construct • Daily practices: social interaction • Habitus Habitus • A concept by Pierre Bourdieu (with roots going back to Marcel Mauss), denoting the totality of learned, bodily skills, habits, styles, tastes, etc. • Culture inscribed in the body • Gender: habitus Anthropology of Gender • • • • Rosaldo, 1974 Leacock 1978 Moore 1988 Study of the asymmetry of between the sexes: universal • exceptions Main Question • Why it is widespread? • Public realm and private realm hypothesis • Women (work practices): private, viewed inferior • Men: Public, risky activities, economic and social capital, politics Socialization • Perpetuation of asymmetrical patterns between the sexes • Learning gender categories and rules in the childhood The Asymmetry of the Sexes is not Universal • Errington and Gewertz (1987) • Gender can be complementary: Separate but equal • Western versus Chambri (New Guinea) • Western: Separation of the private and public: Exclusion • Chambri: person define by his/her relations What is the connection between Gender and Language? • Gender as Ideology: • Language as a tool for learning gender categorization • Commonly highly valued ways of speaking association • Example: Malagasy speech norms: Indirectness in speech: male activities • Kabary Speech Gender Styles in English Alternatives: pronunciation, word selection, grammatical construction. “You’re driving rather fast, aren’t you? “Well, I guess it’s approximately four feet high.” Why? • Socialization • Gender roles and cultural values • Social norms: construct and reinforce gender attitudes Gender Roles Are Reflected In Language Styles • Pronunciation: tone, intonation, volume • Grammatical forms • Choices of vocabulary Phonological variations: pronunciation • Conversational interactions • Tendencies in language use • Example: New England study: “-ing”; the progressive suffix of verbs Fischer’s study(1958) –prefer –ing – Boys – Girls 5 10 prefer –in 7 2 Social Meaning in language use: • -ing: Formality, symbolizing female speaker • -in Informality, symbolizing male speaker Style of speech is connected to a u unified cultural structure of behavior Intonation • Rhythm. Volume, pitch • Different intonation in English: • Women: wide range of pitches, rapid shift in volume and velocity (more emotional) • Men: Atonal (control, restrain) • Cultural interpretation: cultural valued behavior Grammatical Variants • Standard versus non-standard grammar • Cheshire (1982) in Reading, England Present tense –s with nonsingular subjects: “We goes shopping on Saturdays.” 2. Has with first-and secondperson subjects: “We has a little fire keeps us warm.” Tag Questions • sentences in which the speaker makes a declarative statement and add on a tag in the form of a question about the assertion • Louise and Lucille didn’t leave together last night, did they? • Bill took Luke to the park last night, didn’t he? Robin Lakoff: • --are reluctant to make direct assertions • --thus avoiding coming into conflict with the addressee • --uncertainty lack of definite opinion Choice of Vocabulary • Different social and cultural domains: --assumption of expertise --profanity Gender interactions • Different styles • Introduction to topics • Topic control Gender Bias in English • Nouns, adjectives, and verbs • English covertly and overtly degrades females • normative roles and secondary roles • Creating a context for interaction of genders ---term opposite sex ---covert and overt inequality The child caught the ball. The ball was caught by the child. Conversational Styles • Assumptions about conversational domination • McConnell-Ginet (1988) ---Men: 12 min --Women: 3.17 • Edelky (1981) --25 to 400% longer Cross-cultural analysis • • • • • • Ideology of gender enacted in language: Example: English Gender specific ways of comm… Universality of gender asymmetry Highly valued speech and men Three cross-cultural examples: Malagasy, Javanese, Kuna Malagasy (Madagascar) • Speech norms: indirectness in speech • Articulated in public: Kabary ceremony • Through use of proverbs, allusions and innuendo • Kabary speech and male activities Women and Exclusion • • • • Encourage to violate norms Women’s style of speech; secondary Indirect speech = public = male = prestige Direct speech= domestic = female = secondary Javanese Language • Importance of politeness for both sexes • Status of addressee and speaker reflected in speech • Highly stratified • Weak distinctions along gender lines • Strong ideology of gender equality • Differences of speech in public and private Private and Public Spheres (Javanese) Private • Women: mas or “older brother” • Men: dkik or “younger sibling” • Difference in seniority Public • Women: Less skillful • Men: Greater art of polite speech Kuna (Panama) • • • • • Egalitarian society economic, political. Labor Complementary separate but equal Private and public contexts: speech styles Public: --equally accessible to both genders --Generally the domain of men • Private: ---Exclusive for women What do these examples tell us about the asymmetry in the cultural evaluation of the sexes? • Malagasy and Kuna: Egalitarian • Javanese stratified • Malagasy and Javanese: marked linguistic behavior • Kuna: no great differences Languages with “GenderPreference” Patterns • Gender exclusive: alternatives appropriate to their gender • Gender preference: language style a social or cultural choice • Japan: class, seniority, gender • Men: less polite and more assertive • Women: more polite and less assertive Summary • Language reflect the way we construct gender: pronunciation, grammar structure, etc. • Women’s domestic sphere -- less value • Cultures evaluate gender styles in a similar way • Example: Malagasy, Javanese and Kuna Languages • Ways of evaluating lang and gender relationship ----Gender exclusive ---- and gender-preference patterns Discussion Question • In what ways are the relationship between language and gender crossculturally similar or different to the relationship between language and race?