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Guide to Linguistic Theories, Research and Concepts | Genderlect

Beth Kemp | Monday January 30, 2012

Categories: Hot Entries, Gender, Genderlect, Linguistics Theory & Study, Linguistic Theory, Using Theory


This topic is concerned with the study of differences between male speech and female speech. The guide to Language and Power will cover theories relating to the representation of gender in language and concerns about sexist language. Some specifications put these together under the topic of ‘gender’ whilst others treat them separately. Specifications including Variation as a topic of study often include gender as one possible variable. The topic has been treated separately here since there has been so much work carried out in this area, and for greater ease in finding the appropriate topics for different specifications.

Please note that specifications for which this is an AS topic will have lower expectations in terms of the theoretical and conceptual understanding of the students – it is not necessarily required (or advisable) to cover all the studies and theories listed here, but this guide should serve to indicate the field and some angles which may be taken in teaching the topic.  As ever, refer to the specification, examiners’ reports and mark schemes for more specific guidance.

The study of genderlect is concerned with two main questions:

  • What differences exist between male speech and female speech?

This requires AO1 skills in terms of students’ technical knowledge, particularly regarding pragmatics and conversational behaviours, but it is also an AO2 aspect, in that students may be expected to have familiarity with a range of studies into gendered speech and their findings.

  • Why do people use ‘male speech’ or ‘female speech’?

This theoretical angle is an AO2 concern. The extent to which speech styles can be labelled as ‘male’ and ‘female’ has been of particular interest more recently. This area takes us out of the quantitative research studies and more into the conceptual realm of the overarching theories which inform different approaches to gendered language.

In terms of exploring data, and...

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