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The relationship between language and gender

The relationship between language and gender

This paper discusses some issues on gender. The analyses are taken from four different articles. This paper is divided into four parts. The first part begins with the relationship between language and gender, the second describes variation in language use across gender, the third part talks about gender revolution in society and the final part discuss about how gender shapes social relationship.

Mhute, Isaac (2008). Language and Gender. Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. Vol 2 (3). Retrieved on August 30, 2010 from: //

This paper attempted to examine how language authorized or unauthorized people of different genders in society. The author also discussed how this authorization associates to the aspect of gender and women’s rights proportionality. The author addressed the issues by stating the other scholars’ opinions on the differences of language use by females or males group and how these differences portray the fairness judgement in society and associate this matter with the condition in Southern Africa.

There are several aspects where language may power the authorization of women’s language at the expense of men. Morgan (1986) drawn an example in the characterization of a country as “she” and in expressions of “mother tongue”. These illustrate that women have significant position and responsibility in society. In Shona language, this perception of woman as polar also contributed to the issue of women’s authorization, such as musha mukadzi, an expression that expressing women as the most vital components at home; vakadzi ndivo vachengetedzi vetsika dzedu, an expression that suggested women as the protector of the norms and values. On the other hand, some terms and expressions show manifestation that authorized men at the expense of women. As an illustration, Goddard and Patterson (2000) identified term such as “bachelor” and “spinster” refers to “unmarried adult male” and “unmarried adult female”. Explicitly, “bachelor” connotes a man who preferred to stay single; in contrast “spinster” connotes a woman who has been unsuccessful in finding a spouse. In chiShona, when one give birth to a girl, elders will say “hwakovanwa wafa woga wafa woga” meaning “now life has been divided each can die alone”, implying that the girl will get married and leave the house. On the contrary, when one give birth to a boy, the elder will say “makorokoto musha wakura” meaning “congratulation, the home has grown; it implies that men have greater value than women.

As a conclusion, the author suggested in changing perspective of woman in language and society, can only be re-composed by women. In line with this, McKenna (1992) indicates that assertive language should be adopted by women and declined to have their subordination as unavoidable.

(Word count: 353)

Bell, C.M., McCarthy, P.M. & McNamara, D.S. (2006). Variation in Language Use Across Gender: Biological versus Sociological Theories. Retrieved on Thursday, September 2, 2010 from //

Arguments over expenditure, feelings, labour division and male detachment during conflict have existed between men and women since long time ago. Biological theories determine gender as biological sex with independent contextual and stable roles. On the other hand, the social constructionist theory of gender presumes that gender roles are unstable and situated contextually where men and women are not limited to a specific language style, but interchangeably based on the context of social interaction.

In this paper dissimilarities in language use in perspective of biological and social construction of gender theories are briefly analyzed. Method used in this paper is qualitative linguistic approach to inquire differences in language use by both genders in marital conflict. A 54-text principles, brought by 27 males and females from counselling copies of relationship column “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” from Ladies Home Journal.

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The texts were examined using the Language Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) and noted the percentage for self-referential, social phrases, positive emotion, that are shown in every text. As a result, there is no substantial difference between both genders in the number of variable percentage. This result is confirmed with the prediction that some features of stereotypical language use, as simulated by biological theory of gender, do not preserve in marital conflict context. This study contribute to the field by rendering empirical prove for the growth of gender theories and language use.

(Word count: 250)

England, Paula (2010). The Gender Revolution: Uneven and Stalled. Gender and Society. 2010 24:149. Retrieved on August 22, 2010 from //

The author identifies that the gender system has altered greatly and provide explanation for why the alterations were uneven. These changes occurred since 1960s and identified as “a revolution”. There were several indicators causing these changes. The author argues that in reduction of female activities and jobs, there were few cultural or institutional changes, and as a consequence, women posses greater inducement than men to proceed to gender-non-traditional activities and perspectives.

The changes in reduction of “female” activities and asymmetric inducements for men and women affected by education. Current study found that in 16 developed countries in 2000, women with more education were more likely to be hired. For instance, data in USA in 1970, 59 % of college graduated women, but only 43% women with less than high school education were hired. In 2007, the estimation increased to 80% for college graduated and 47 % for less than high school education.

Given these facts, the author generates two broad explanations. Initially, since the devaluation of cultural and institutional characteristics and activities related to women, men have few inducements to proceed into traditional female activities such as home-making or female-dominated occupation. On the other hand, women had economic inducement to proceed into male domains and occupations. Finally, the impacts of the co-occurrence of equal opportunity individualism and gender essentialism create opportunity for women to proceed into non-traditional fields of study or work when potential female fields are unavailable. While the reason for stalling is poorly stated with no relentless resultant. Change has seen as unintended impacts of institutional and cultural forces of effort of the feminist organization.

(Word cont: 267)

Ridgeway, Cecilia L (2009). Framed Before We Know It: How Gender Shapes Social Relations. Gender and Society, 23:145. Retrieved 23 August 2010 from //

This article indicates the argument stated by the author that gender is a cultural mainframe in organizing and forming social relation. Her argument is expressed by describing how gender frames social relations and how this frame differs in context of implication for gender inequality. This issue is defined using two empirical illustrations. Firstly, gender as social mainframe, is defined as a particular type of general cultural knowledge as a way to categorize and specify each other in a particular situation so that each can expect how to behave and align the actions consequently. Secondly, how gender pattern behaviour, is defined as implicit prejudices into expectation and behaviours that resulted in the setting of gender inequality.

In explaining the significance of gender mainframe, the author describes some examples from the previous studies. For instance, Whittington (2007) found that in an industry where gender-typed is not strong, such as Information Technology industry, the informal context and flexible organizational form bring more benefits to the females group than the hierarchical structure (Whittington and Smith-Doerr, 2008). On the other hand, in engineering and physical sciences, where gender-type in favour of men, there is stronger implicit biases against women’s competence. Another example is taken from Charles and Bradley (2009) analysis on the sex segregation of field of study, found that in wealthy post-industrial society, there is a larger gap between boys and girls in expressing kinship in math.

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As a conclusion, the author suggested that when it concerns to gender, the impact of the processes at one level cannot be comprehended without mentioning the other levels. It is also suggested that modification in gender system of a society will be continuously repeated and may not move fluently.

(Word count: 282)

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