Are men really from Mars and women from Venus? And if so, does it mean they speak two completely different languages? Prior to embarking on a formal study of language I had assumed that we all spoke the ‘same language’ regardless of age and gender. However, my study has revealed a number of interesting points of contrast. In my study I took agony aunt columns from the internet written from teenage boys and girls and adult men and women.
I found that not only is age an important factor in determining how we ‘speak’ but gender also plays a major role in influencing the way that people speak and write. Males tend to use shorter sentences than women do, for example, one letter opened with ‘I am a chronic snorer. ‘ This conveys the point briskly without further information. They use more dynamic verbs than women as they avoid saying how they feel as that does not fit in with the macho image of men that is created by society, ‘I WANT TO KILL HIM. Furthermore, in my studies I found that men are more likely to use coarse language ‘she likes this this dick head across the road’, this again is most probably explained by the macho stereotype, which most males strive to become. Moreover, males had the tendency to use hyphens, instead of commas and full stops ‘Sometimes I feel like talking to my mates about my troubles at home-but I know they’ll laugh. ‘ This could be explained by the desire to detach themselves from the emotional part of the sentence.
The problem then appears in the adjunct so it distances them from the admittance to actually having a problem or expressing emotional weakness or personal concern. Females in my research were more likely to use stative verbs ‘I feel like crying’ as society encourages them at an early age to discuss their feelings whereas boys are encouraged to conform to the macho unemotional image. Moreover, females use compound sentences ‘.
I hate it when he hugs them, I feel like crying but I cant because it would upset my mum more, I think I should speak to me dad but I dont know what he would say, he would probably just ignore me and say I was being a drama queen!!! ‘And in my research showed a great affection towards the use of connective or commas instead of ending a sentence ‘!!!! I really really like this boy but he doesnt know I exist,he I always with this big bunch of ppl who im not friends with but sometimes I think I see him looking at me,i wish he was but I sooo doubt it, I really dont no what to do!!! , in this sentence she overuses ‘but’ instead of diving the one compound sentence into smaller compact ones.
This could be prompted by the preconception that females are much more emotional and open than males. Therefore they tend to say everything they are thinking, an extract from a letter written by a female reads ‘okay, well basically my parents could be splitting up, and I cant concentrate, I have one sis, 8, and I really want them 2 get divorced because they just keep goin on ate eachother, sometimes its more like threatening, wat do I do? Furthermore, females, in my studys, used intensifiers to stress the importance of their statements ‘I really really like this boy’ in this quote really id repeated to accentuate the strength of her feelings, where as boys use taboo language to do this ‘I feel so fuckin lost in life’, again this could be explained by the stereotypes that society enforce on both genders which causes them to conform to this way of expressing themselves.
Also to highlight the importance, females overuse exclamation marks and question marks to stress their point, one letter opened with ‘OMG!!!!! Please help me!!!! ‘ and when asking a question ‘what should I do??? ‘ Another trait that was common was the use of tag questions ‘ what should I do??? do u think I should tell him???? ‘ this was one of Debra Tannens theories on genderlect.
Furthermore, women in my findings tend to use auxiliary verbs; this could be explained by the fact that women are more likely to us politeness strategies, which was also theorized by Debra Tannen. Age affects language as well, currently we are living in the technological age of mobiles and MSN which has caused ‘text language’ to emerge where numbers with the same sounds replace words ‘neva seen them this bad b4’ and words are spelt as they sound.
The appearance of slang language is always emerging in our society; consequently the younger generations are more likely to use words that the older generations perhaps have never heard. Furthermore, teenagers are more likely to use colloquial language, one letter reads ‘theyve only bin married 2 months , ive neva seen them this bad b4’, as they are more used to using this type of language with their friends on MSN and text messaging, they are not expected to be formal in most situations in life and therefore have a tendency to use colloquial language.
Older generations have not grown up with mobile and MSN, are more educated and most probably are in situation where formality is necessary, consequently their letters use a higher register and technical language ‘do they eliminate the fat accumulated on local spots, or do they merely “redistribute” it? ‘
In conclusion, genderlect does exist, lurking in the minds of every female and male are the unwritten codes that we abide by every time we put pen to paper, or in this case, finger to keyboard. One disadvantage of assessing letters from internet sites is that they are not completely reliable as they could be fake names and identities, however looking at the style of the letters suggest that although they may have faked a name, they can’t fake genderlect.