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Language Defines Gender Essay, Research Paper

Language Defines Gender

Essay written by Sven Von Svenson

How do men and women communicate clearly when most of their ways of communicating are so different? In today’s society language plays a key role in defining gender by phraseology, vocabulary, and also their nonverbal vocabulary. Each one of these different types of ways of communicating is prominently different between men and women.

Webster’s defines phraseology as “a choice and pattern of words.” Many studies have been done on the differences between men and women’s phraseology. It has been noted in many different studies that men tend to talk much more than women do. This was proven true in a study that Lynette Hirshman did in 1974 (Glass 33). It has also been proven that women tend to speak faster than men; this is due to the fact that women tend to be interrupted more often than men are, and also have the ability to speak more clearly, precisely, and more quickly than men can. In one study it was found that women spoke for an average of three minutes describing a painting, as opposed to the thirteen-minute average it took men to describe it. (Glass 33) Women tend to be more detailed when describing events, persons, places or things. Linguist Robin Lakoff states in her book, Language and Woman’s Place, women use greater description when describing colors. (Glass 31) Women notice more detail than men causing women to be more perceptive; they notice things such as tone of voice, facial expression, and body language. Being able to pick up on those three types of communicating helps women better understand what is actually being said in a conversation.

Men and women’s styles of communicating are close to being directly opposites of one another. Men tend to be louder more aggressive speakers; they mumble many of their words and tend to be sloppy in their pronunciation of words. Men tend to use loudness when emphasizing words instead of inflection and pitch to emphasize points. According to Webster’s, inflection is “a change in the tone of the voice,” or “the change of form in a word to indicate number, case, tense, etc.” (Glass 51) Women tend to use pitch and inflection more so than men do. Men have a tendency to speak in a lower tone and rarely change from that tone to any others. Women on the other hand speak in five different tones, which makes them sound more emotional. (Glass 50) Women also speak more fluidly, which makes them easier to listen to, where men use choppier more fragmented sentences. Women are more soft spoken than men are, which allows men to monopolize most conversations. (Glass 51) Men are much less verbose and they are more direct in getting their point across. Women tend to “beat around the bush” when getting a point across; this causes men to become very agitated while listening to a woman tell a story. Men talk much slower than women do and are more silent during conversational lulls. (Glass 52) Men also have a tendency to make more direct accusations and statements. (Glass 51) Men also answer questions with declaration, (”It’s two o’clock.”), where as women answer with a question. Men are more commanding in their style of speech, however women ask for things to be done in a more polite manner and usually in terms of endearment, (”Honey, would you please…”). (Glass 53) Men also make more declarative statements, instead women tend to make more tentative statements and use ” tag endings”. (Glass 53) Women would say, “Would you like to go to the beach today, but we don’t have to.” A man on the other hand would say, “We’re goin’ to the beach today.” This sentence also shows that men have poor grammar, as opposed to women generally have good grammar. (Glass 53) Men also use one-word answers, rarely use conjunctions, and hardly ever use adjectives of adoration. Women tend to have lengthy responses, long sentences that are adjoined with words like “and”, “but”, “however”, etc., and always use adjectives of adoration such as “cute”, “adorable”, and “sweet”, etc. Men use more foul language, slang, and make simpler, more understandable requests, but women do all of these things exactly the opposite. Men, as most people know, lecture and have use more of a monologue, where as women have more of a give-and-take dialogue. (Glass 55)

Men and women also tend to have a very different nonverbal way of communicating, which can also make it very hard for one another to understand what the opposite sex is trying to say. Men’s body language is much more reserved when talking to women. Men tend to not make as much eye contact; they generally stay farther away from women when talking to them. Men avoid other peoples body space while talking, they also tend to recline or sit back when talking, and they are much more fidgety while listening to someone else. These traits that men have give off the impression of disinterest or boredom. Women are completely the opposite, which gives others the feeling that the female listener is much more interested in what the speaker has to say. Women rarely interrupt someone while speaking, but as for men they interrupt the speaker quite frequently. Men rarely pick up on others nonverbal cues. Men give off false cues of their own or are not as consistent with the nonverbal cues they try to give off. (Glass 46) Men, even when interested tend to frown and squint while listening which gives off a feeling of disinterest, where as women smile and nod as if they are paying attention to every word that is being said to them. (Glass 49)

It is true men and women are quite different in their ways of communicating. Men are definitely much harder to understand in all of their styles of communication. From mumbling to short snappy answers and poor eye contact to constant interruptions, makes communicating with men much more difficult than anticipated by most. Women are by far better listeners and much more enjoyable to talk with. Women give off the impression they are interested in what is being said to them, maintain good eye contact, and speak with more inflection and in nice soft tones. They are more descriptive in their explanations, their sentences flow together smoothly, and they tend to raise more topics for conversation. Women also make it more clear whether or not the conversation is going somewhere or just stuck in neutral. After learning about our styles of communicating with each other, I have decided that although men have not quite mastered communicating, what fun would it be if we all spoke the same “language”. The little games men and women play with each other while conversing would be lost. The question everyone asks himself or herself after talking with someone of the opposite sex, ” I wonder if there’s something there?” would cease to exist.

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