Speak to Me, Listen to Me: Ethnic and Gender Variations in Talk and Potential Consequences in Interactions for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Charlene Pope
  • Danielle N. Ripich


Talk is a non-material communication tool that people use to meet their goals in social interaction. This view, held by linguistic anthropology (Duranti 1997), states that talk is a tool speakers use in various ways in differing circumstances. The successful use of talk as a tool in conversation depends on ways of speaking or practices related to one’s cultural assumptions and social positions. These are learned over a lifetime and integrated by speakers as social identities (Ellis 1999). Although social practices affect communication, the role of social variations in talk with people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has received relatively less attention than cognitive or expressive language issues in AD. Social identities are often strongly tied to expressive speaking behaviors (Reichman 1997), particularly those related to gender (Roter, Lipkin, & Korsgaard 1991) and ethnicity (Stubbe 1998). Hanks (1996) has proposed a co-constructed model of communication based on the simultaneous roles of speakers/listeners in conversations. Within this concept of co-construction, people, as speakers and listeners, alter their communication relative to gender and ethnicity in the midst of a conversation quickly and often without conscious awareness (Jacoby & Ochs 1995). While engaged in more functional tasks, speech partners may or may not recognize references. They may index inferences into a phrase, pause, raise in pitch or other element of performance (Hanks 1996).


Social Identity Gender Variation Female Interviewer Male Interviewer Gender Pair 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Charlene Pope and Danielle N. Ripich 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlene Pope
  • Danielle N. Ripich

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