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A Study on Representation of Gender Differences in English

发布时间: 2019-04-29所属分类: 教育类论文 阅读:140

Ⅰ. Introduction

A famous linguist O.Jesperson ever said that “The essence of language is human activity.”Indeed, his words clearly expounds the relation between language and our social activities, in other words, language is just like a mirror of the society(胡壮麟,2011), which reflect the social reality, so the gender differences in language demonstrate the unique experience of users for the sake of their culture、customs、 society, etc. Thus we have to say that it has a rich background to reflect the social psychology of users and social cultural value.


Ⅱ. Gender difference at the speech level

With the influence of physiological factors such as speech organs, men and women in terms of speech have different features. From the utterance, a listener may get a general idea of the speaker’s gender, age, occupation, etc, according to the characteristic of one’s timbre、volume、register、pitch range and rhythm. In general, female’s voice pitch is higher than male while male’s register is broader than female. In addition, female often are willing to use more former pronunciation, that is to say, language forms used by female are more close to standard form and elegant accent, for example the pronunciation of _ing, female generally can correctly pronounce it as velar nasal /iη/ while quite a few male pronounce it as alveolar nasal /in/.


Ⅲ. Gender difference at the lexicon level 

3.1 The use of color and emotive vocabulary

The research of American sociolinguist Lakoff(1973) has shown that in English that are some words means colors, such as mauve, beige, aquamarine, lavender, magenta, etc. confines to female use. Why these requirements exist? I believe that people used to think that to distinguish colors such a trivial, do not belong to the scope of male’s care and male should certainly concern the matters such as politics, economy, religion, sports and other aspects, while women should concern about the housework and child care, laundry, etc. In addition to the color words, to emphasize the emotion and express feelings, female are willing to use adjectives or adverbs with the meaning of appreciation.

3.2 The use of curse words

First, female as the social vulnerable group, if they want to express their strong feelings or complaint, they only can use some curse words or interjections of lower degree, such as: Oh dear, My Goodness, Good Heavens, and avoid using the vulgar words like: shit, damn, hell. Compared with female, male use vulgar words more frequently (Coat, 1986). Second, men’s span of swearing words is larger than women’s and male’s taboo words are dirtier, while women would avoid this kind of rudeness in some degree, for example their swearing words would like: damn, hell, Jesus Christ, gosh, idiot, god, darn it, etc (谭慧玉,2000). Third, men’s swearing words sometimes do mean taunt and hurt, but sometimes it does not mean anything but is a kind kidding and pet phrase and will not hurts the feelings of the listeners.


Ⅳ. Gender difference at the syntax level 

In general, male like to show their perceptions towards things directly, thus they often choose statements and imperatives to express their command and requirement, however, women tend to avoid using direct manners, they tend to use interrogative sentences, or the tag questions indicating conferential mood.

Linguists have found that “female use polite language more frequent than male (Coats, 1986)”. According to the study of Leech’s Politeness Principle, minimize the expression of impolite beliefs and maximize the expression of polite belief (Leech, 1983). Female prefer to use polite language, so they often use adjectives to evaluate others, nevertheless, male less likely to use polite language, thus they often use verbs to state or order, which is closely related to the language psychology that female are full of emotions, they desire elegance, and male are more straightforward, they attach importance to action than words.


Ⅴ. Gender difference at the verbal communication level

5.1 Topic selection

First of all, the topic is the focus and the content of the talking exchange on both sides. Through the investigation of different kinds of people, linguists found that female’s topic scope often involves personal life, such as their families, children, desires, while male are less likely to show their own feelings in public, they often choose the topics such as politics, economics, religions and sports, etc, besides, the topics of their focus often have certain distance with the current or real-time situations.

5.2 Topic quantity

When it comes to topic quantity, people may think that women talk more than male, it seems to be a universal and stereotype view. When we look up an English dictionary, we’ll find quite a few words to describe women’s topic quantity, and all indicate negative sense, such as babble, chatter box, gab, gossip, nag, prattle, etc. However, it is not the case in the real interaction, so for almost all the investigation and study drawn the opposite conclusion, in most places, such as streets, homes, restaurants and cafes, social activity, conferences, TV discussion, sports, concerts, etc, male tend to have more talking quantity, especially in the dialogue between male and female.

5.3 Speech manner and strategy

Many linguists also found that there exists big differences between male and female in speech manner and strategy. In general, female is more cooperative than male in daily speech interactions, usually everyone has the chance to show themselves, seldom exits a chance that one monopoly the talking exchange. Before the speech, female always like to mention the discourse that others said before and intent to make their topics related to some extent with it, so that to keep the consistency and continuity of the conversation.


Ⅳ. The potential causes of these differences

All in all, many western feminists claim that there exists three conversion stages during the form of inequality. First is from the physiological differences to social differences, then the social differences produce the value relation, finally the value relation generate the unequal belief of human beings, that’s to say that, for example, women can give birth to children while men cannot, now that can do this task, which prove that they are suitable to stay at home and take care of babies and men accordingly fit to go outside and support his family---that is the physiological differences. However, the physiological differences will not confine to this aspect, it will cause the gender differences and division of labor in society in which men’s jobs are considered as the most significant while women’s are secondary and accessorial, that will cause---the value differences, in other words, due to the evaluation in human being’s thoughts eventually generate the inequality.


Ⅶ. Conclusion

Language is the carriage of culture and the culture influences our language, although there are only two kinds of sex: male and female, this is physiology sex, but how to understand gender, gender is a beyond physical definition, which is the judgment of society towards two sexes, why male should always be brave and forthright, while female must be tender and sweetness, if not, nothing wrong, but that is the gender characteristic of two sexes, we should fully understand it and try to respect the gender differences, avoiding the conflict.


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