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Male vs female discourse strategies: Tabling conversational topics

  • Richard J. Watts

Abstract

The literature on language and gender contains a wealth of evidence that men and women, at least in Western societies but possibly also in many Asian societies too (cf. Ide and McGloin 1991), have recourse to different types of discourse strategy in verbal interaction (cf. e.g. Lakoff 1975; Fishman 1978; Coates 1986). Women are said to use more minimal listener responses such as mhm, yeah, right, etc., to make greater use of various types of speaker allocation devices such as questions aimed at specific participants, tag questions, final rising intonation, etc., to agree with argument positions, etc. Men, on the other hand, are said to put more argument positions and support for those arguments, to disagree with other participants’ positions, to intervene more frequently in ongoing speech, etc. Indeed, the general conversational style of women is often seen as more collaborative and cooperative than that of men, whereas men’s conversational style is seen as more competitive.

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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 1994

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  • Richard J. Watts

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