English investigation Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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For this project I am going to analyse how women and men behave when using language in casual situations?

There have been many previous research finding and conclusions about gender and conversational behaviour.

For example Jennifer Coates identified two approaches, which she describes as dominance and difference. Jennifer Coates was a writer to wrote about the language differences between men and women.

Dominance argues that because women occupy a less powerful position in society than men, their constitutional behaviour is less assertive and less confident. Men are dominant within society, so it is not surprising that they tend to dominate mixed sex conversations.

Women are said to be used to male dominance, and as a result of social conditioning will often be polite and respectful when speaking to men.

Whereas the idea of difference is where the focus is more on differences in male and female attitudes and values, that are said to be inculcated from childhood, when we form, and are influenced by, single sex peer groups. Studies of childrens play have found that in boys games there is more emphasis on competition and confrontation, while girls games are more cooperative. In adulthood, womens talk often focuses on personal feelings and problems and this helps to explain why their approach to conversation is more sympathetic and supportive. Also this

Description of Data:

My data consists of three transcripts; one, which took place in a college canteen between four girls meaning it, was very informal and casual.

My second transcript took place on a college field while three boys were watching a game of football played by fellow peers. They discussed the game and also had background conversations.

My third transcript is of three girls talking about the world cup football match very briefly while talking more about football and surrounding topics. I felt that my first transcript I recorded was not sufficient enough to be analysed well and in detail, I therefore recorded a further transcript to increase my data and to make a more intricate analysis.


The aim of my investigation is to find out to what extent are there significant differences in the ways that men and women behave on conversation.


For my investigation I collected three transcripts; I did this, as this is the most effective way of collecting sufficient data that I would be able to analyse for my specific subject. I am going to look at how women talk in casual situations looking at aspects that expert researchers have found such as Jennie Coates, she found two approaches based on the ideas of dominance and difference which I will look at and try to find out to what extent do my transcripts prove this.

I will also look at cooperation and competition as the experts have found that boys seem to be more competitive when using language whereas girls seem to be more co operative, even though this research was proved by using children as examples I would still like to see if it is still the case when men and woman are older and to what extent they still either are competitive or cooperative when using language.

As well as looking as what the experts have found I am also going to look at the role played by the speakers in my transcript and relate it too attitudes and values as well as educational background, which is pretty much the same for each speaker as they all go to the some college. I will also look into the social class of the speakers. I will look at the status, purpose, context and audience for each transcript and analyse each topic accordingly.

I am also going to look at the 6 frameworks lexis, semantics, phonology, graphology, grammar, discourse, pragmatics and the sociolinguistics which has been defines as the study of language in its social context.


First of all I am going to analyse the context of my data. The first transcript is between four friends occasionally five when they contribute to the conversation. The conversation is very informal and very casual with no real meaning or purpose except for socialising during break time, which means the conversation is quite forced to some extent even though they were talking about what they liked to talk about. All the women contributed equally I would say; to the conversation.

Although women are characteristically and socially known for being quite capable and good at making conversation there is not a lot of prove from the experts or researchers that suggests that males do not make conversation or are any less capable. Therefore when looking at the mens conversation I saw that they were just as able and good at making conversation. The mens conversation was between three people occasionally four or five when they contributed to the conversation. This conversation was also very informal and casual and was also something that the men wanted to talk about. In the conversation you can see that between them there is one more dominant male who tends to initiate conversation and interrupt or overlap other speakers also could be know as holding the floor.

However I researched about dominance in conversation and read, you just dont understand- men and women in conversation by Deborah Tanning and she said claiming that interruption is a sign of dominance assumes that conversation is an activity in which one speaker speaks at a time, but this reflects ideology more than practice. She also said that she recorded conversations in which many voices were heard at once and it was clear that everyone was having a good time. She then asked people of their impressions of the conversation and they said they had enjoyed themselves. However when she played the tape back they were embarrassed about their conversational style. Which suggests that when people being female or male do dominate the conversation they maybe dont realise they are doing it.

I also found that in my other female conversation between three girls there was one slightly more dominant participant mainly due to her personality, however it was also in most cases successful cooperative over lapping as the over lapping is positive and as Deborah tanning says in her book the overlaps are cooperative because they do not change the topic but elaborate on it. However in my male conversation there is unsuccessful cooperative overlapping as for example when a participant says he had England trials (referring to a friend out side the conversation) another participant says yer but dont he look like peter pan which is quite negative and stops the conversation which is a negative response that does not enable the conversation to carry on without changing the topic.

In one of my transcripts where the four or five female participants are talking on participant says, Err she looks really bad (referring to a celebrity in a magazine that looks rough) by saying the word really she is intensifying what she is saying. In my other transcripts there are two examples of women using intensifiers, one where a participant says, shes really pretty and another when a participant says well I think peter crouch is actually quite really cute

Robin Lakoff published an influential account of womens language. In a related article she published a set of basic assumptions about what marks out the language of women.

Among these assumptions were the use of intensifiers especially the words so and very for example Im so glad to see you I found intensifiers within my female transcripts but none in my male transcripts. However as my transcripts were quite short and the time I had to collect my data was limited if I had more data I could have compared this more fairly to get better and faired results.

Zimmerman and West (1915) taped informal conversations between students in coffee bars, shops and other public places. They found that women talk about feelings whereas men talk more about things. Women conversation is often focused on personal experiences, relationships and problems.

The topic of male conversation tends to be more concrete, relating to information, facts objects and activities. And from my own experiences these finding are accurate but also my data could also suggest this as well, for example in my females transcripts there is reference to a personal experience that doesnt really play a part in the structure of the conversation, it is quite random.

The participant says Rory always corrects my spelling its well annoying on msn he always like types things in a little star and then says correct spelling the participate gets interrupted while saying this as it is nothing to do with the conversation. Also in my transcript I can see that men use more taboo language than women do for example in my male conversation one participant says fucking legend whereas in my female conversation there was no swearing words used. However as my transcripts were quite short they do not relate to all females.

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