One quietness and full submission”. “I do

One of the biggest problems in language research on sex differences is
the confusion between how women actually speak and how people think women
should speak. It is important consider why researchers opted to study sex
differences rather than similarities, and why they have interpreted their
research findings in sexist ways specifically the androcentric way. As defined
in (en.wiktionary.org) “it is an ideological focus on males and men, and issues
affecting them, possibly to the detriment of non-males.”

 “Where there are women there is
talk, and where there are geese there is cackling.”(Irish Proverb)

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  “Wherever there are women and geese, the
words are not few.” (Italian Proverb)

 ” Foxes are all tail, and women are all
tongue.”(French Proverb)

 “Woman never spoiled anything through
silence.” (Russian Proverb)

  “A woman’s hair is long; her tongue is
longer.” (Russian Proverb)

  “Many women, many words.”  (English Proverb)

 “A woman’s strength is her
tongue.”(English Proverb)

The proverbs mentioned above are just a few from the many evidences there
are on how   women and language are type
casted in different realms and societies. They basically suggest that women
have been pigeon-holed and labelled as talkative and uncontrolled, that women
have long been assumed the more garrulous sex; whereas there are some studies
that indicate that men may be the bigger talkers but disappointing to say were
not painted or highlighted, while others found no difference between the sexes
which significantly   doesn’t show any
impression at all.

As ( Dawjee H.M. ,2014) posits, “I started to wonder how much attention
we actually pay to the influence of the language used when talking about
subject matter pertaining to women. It seems that so much of the language used
is dictated by a patriarchal society – and not enough attention is paid to
this.” This clearly proposes that the false stereotype of talkative women is
not a reflection of reality but just a reflection of the social
expectation–‘women should be silent’–because silence has usually been
considered as synonymous with obedience in many societies, as what the Holy
Bible dictates, in (1 Timothy 2:11-12), ” A woman should learn quietness and full
submission”. “I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man;
she must be quiet.” One clear point that emerged from all the studies cited was
that the type of activity people were engaged in influenced how much they
talked

The proverbs mentioned are not all that there are that would buffer that there
is indeed this kind of an ideology, which is  Androcentric in nature, but there are many
linguistic claims which typecast 
‘women’s language’: (Lakoff, 1975) 
posits that ” women talk more politely’ and ‘women use more questions” ;
moreover,  appends that “female speakers
use features which indicate tentativeness, such as ‘tag questions’, ‘hedges’
and other expressions that make them sound hesitant or uncertain,” while
(Zimmerman & West, 1975) claim that “female speakers interrupt less than
males in mixed-sex conversations, “female speakers use more conversational
support such as ‘minimal responses than males.” (Fishman, 1980). These findings
escalate the idea that ” women speak in a cooperative way or a polite way,
whereas men speak in a competitive way,” (Coates, 1993) “female speakers use more
indirect speech than males.”(Lakoff, 1975).These researchers mentioned tried
influenced people’s thought,  how people
should think about women and enough to say that they likewise tried to convince
people to believe on what these researchers want them to believe, which
according to Sapir-Whorf hypothesis as cited by (Paul Kay & Willett Kempton
1984) “the structure of a language can strongly influence or determine
someone’s World View”, further,Guy Duetscher observes as cited by (Jones, 2010),”that
language influences an individual’s minds not out of what it allows the individual
to think but rather on what it obliges the individual to think” which to the
researcher’s mind  is true positive  as well cannot just be debunk, but instead be
given ample thought,  since unlike the
former researches mentioned,   has
actually been supported by extensive linguistic 
research.

This stereotyping and pigeonholing that some researchers had in their
studies impacted the researcher so much. Questions like is women’s language
pigeon holed or typecasted? Is there really bias in the researchers’ point of
view with regard women’s language? Is andocentric Ideology present in the
researches mentioned in this study?

Methodology

This paper is a research based on selected researches about women’s
language. The researcher shall discuss in this paper how researches done by
selected researcher-linguists on sex differences in language use are affected
by the androcentric ideology which according to ( Wood, 2013 ) in his Issues on
Gender Bias in Psychology, is  a  “bias concentrated when psychological
theories and to assume the male as a norm.” Moreover,   how ‘women’s language’ is orchestrated
through such researches shall also be discussed.  In this paper, the researcher would prove
that alleged women’s language that researchers claimed is not objective but
merely upshots of the ‘androcentric’ ideology which works to the detriment or
disadvantage of women.

The researcher believes that it is necessary to point out that there is,
“a danger of seeing what you want to see (Swann, 1992, P.198)” in any research.
According to (Chalmers ,1978), “it is reported that even people who see the
same thing from the same vantage point interpret what they see differently.”
This suggests that the interpretation given depends much  on the observer’s situation and expectations;
therefore, based on that premise, it can be presumed that the outcome of
research is practically determined how hypotheses were formed by these
researchers and thus it is  accurate to
speculate that if researchers wish to verify stereotypes in women’s speech,
they could interpret data in whatever way meets their expectations. It can be
deduced then that a research finding would unconsciously reflect the
researcher’s own perspective and ideology. In this respect, impartiality or
fairness in linguistic research may already be considered senseless as claimed
by (Mikozami, 1995),”linguistic research into sex differences, conducted under
the name of ‘science’, has regarded men as the norm and women as a deviation in
the natural premise”. There are  
linguistic researches which were conducted on sex differences that regarded
men as the norm: as (Frye,1983) posits “male dominance requires the belief that
men and women are importantly different from each other, so anything that
contributes to the impression that sex differences are important is therefore a
contributor to male dominance.” Some feminists (e.g., Penelope, 1990; Spender,
1985) argue that English is, “in some quite general sense, male.”  One thing that is meant by this is tries to
subordinate women or to render them invisible, or by taking males as the norm.
Simply put, men’s language is the norm and women as a deviation.

RESULTS

Researches on women’s language

 “Women
speak more politely than men, and have smaller and less varied vocabularies.
Women differ from men in their use of certain adjectives such as ‘pretty’ and
‘nice’, and adverbs such as ‘vastly’ and ‘so’ which  could be interpreted as  women use a different language than men.” (Language:
Its Nature, Development and Origin) (Jespersen, 1922). This is a typical example
of a research done about Women and Language which treats one group (male) as
the norm and the other group (women) as deviant. In this juncture, the
researcher can blatantly say that this claim is stereotypical, bias, and
sexist.  It shows that Jespersen’s claims
has an evident partiality against women and can be perceived as a clear
manifestation of an androcentric ideology.  Furthermore, Jespersen’s work is not only conventional
and portrays stereotyping, which seemed to be publicly accepted, since women
have already been type casted, which may or may not be close to reality, tend
to be justified by the fact that many people believe them, and consequently the
social prejudices hidden behind them also tend to be justified. Jespersen is
trying to convince the public that it is how women converse.

                Lakoff’s work, Language and
Women’s Place (1975) on the other hand was said to have marked the “beginning
of the twentieth-century linguistic interest in sex differences” (Mizokami,
1995). (Lakoff, 1975) asserts that “women are more likely to use empty
adjectives such as ‘divine’, ‘charming’ and ‘lovely’. Intensifiers such as
‘so’, ‘really’ and ‘very’, and qualifiers such as ‘not exactly’ and ‘a bit’,
are more frequently spoken by women than men.” Further, she asserts that “women
use more tag questions, more hedges, more rising intonations and more polite
forms than men use”. Lakoff explains that “these characteristics of ‘women’s
language’ are a result of linguistic subordination: A woman must learn to speak
‘women’s language’ to avoid being criticized as unfeminine by society” (Lakoff,
1975).  Paucity in authority,
seriousness, conviction and confidence in their conversation are what inferred
and understood in these kind of assertions why thus imply androcentric point of
view. Also, based on the claims of Lakoff, the researcher would surmise that
androcentrism is being portrayed since she tends to use ‘men as the norm and
women as a deviation’ framework, same frame work used by Jespersen.  She seems to assume that women’s language is second-rate
to and different from men’s language. In short, she is biased against women’s
language. Moreover, the researcher did not see any proof in  her research any data that can buffer her
claims and assertions thus the researcher can say that Lakoff  merely  based her claims from her own intuitions and
assumptions which is unbecoming of a well-respected linguist-researcher, she
must have had presented a  substantial collective
corpus of data. Using this method may direct her to merely describe her own
biases. Thus Lakoff’s work should also be regarded as a product of the
androcentric ideology. From what the researcher read, ” that what she actually
did is merely enumerate linguistic stereotypes which unconsciously reflect the
general public’s idea that it is how women speak and should stay that way,”
(Mizokami, 1995).

 (Zimmerman
& West, 1975) prove that “women use less interruptions than men in
mixed-sex conversations. They argue that women are more likely to allow interruptions
indicating a submission to men.”  The
researchers explained their findings in terms of sexual inequalities and a
woman’s inferiority. This clearly emphasized the idea that there is indeed a
divide between genders and this sense, the research shows androcentric idealism
since women and their language were placed into inferior side and were given a
mediocre understanding.

Discussion

This paper tried to show that there is
indeed a problem in some researches done on language specifically on language
researches on sex difference. These researches stemmed to confusion on how
women themselves would like to speak, on how women are supposed to speak and
how people and society expect them to speak.

Moreover, this research confirms that there
are categorically negative and false stereotyping which relate to women and the
language that they used as suggested by what others would say as ‘extensive
linguistic researches’, that there are researches that reflect the bias set by  people and by the  society, and that  ‘women’s language’ is orchestrated from the
researches mentioned.

The researcher was more than happy to note
that there are still researcher-linguists who don’t take a slant and do not
take male’s language as the norm, without any proof at all:

In Pamela Fishman’s Theory, she asserts “that
women hedge and use more tag questions than men for a variety of reasons.  I believe that men sometimes let women
dominate the conversation because they think that their input to a conversation
will either bore the woman or not relevant to the conversation. Therefore this
leaves it to the woman to keep the conversation going.  I also believe that as the man’s input to a
conversation is minimal, the woman feels the need to reassure herself that the
man is listening and not just speaking to herself.” (Fishman, 1980).This simply
implies that women are aware of the situation that they are in, they know how
to consider their place in a certain situation and they are aware of the
registers of language and considerably adhere with ‘turn -taking mechanism’. Moreover,
the researcher would like to append what (Mizokami, 1995) has to say, that “A
woman may speak differently when talking to her mother about clothes than when
discussing a problem with classmates in a university seminar. Moreover, women
and men are not homogenized groups as there are variations within the sexes
such as the middle class, working class, aged, young, white, colored etc.”
Furthermore (Crawford, 1997) notes “the three main objectives of female speech
as: to create and maintain relationships of closeness and equality, to
criticize others in acceptable (indirect ways), to interpret accurately and
sensitively the speech of other females. Moreover,( Mulac et al., 2001) note
that “women use language that is more cautious and concerned not to offend or
put the woman an embarrassing situation.” Appending, Campbell Leaper claimed as
cited by (Thompson, 2017), “One gender isn’t inherently more talkative than
the other, it’s just that a lot of times it depends on the situation and gender
role influences.”    These assertions of Crawford, Mulac, Leaper, Mizokami
and the Theory of Pamela Fishman would negate the views presented by Lakoff,
Jespersen,  and Zimmerman and West which
can be classified as filled with androcentric ideology.

 

 

 

To end, the researcher would like to cite (Holmes,
1984), “as Sex-typed linguistic features in English have been said to be of
relative nature which have  no
sex-exclusive differences.”