the 1970s, women researchers (mostly feminists) started looking at how a linguistic code transmitted sexist values and bias, Thanks to previous concerns raised by Robin Tolmach Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkely. Her 1975 book Language and Woman’s Place, as well as some of her earlier studies, are often credited for making language and gender a huge debate in sociolinguistics and other disciplines.
Lakoff’s work raised questions such as: Do women have a more restricted vocabulary than men? Do they use more adjectives? Are their sentences incomplete? Do they use more ‘superficial’ words? Lakoff identified a “woman’s register”, in which She introduced the deficit theory, proposing that women’s language is weaker because it’s expected to be weaker, and created a set of female characteristics structured to prove women’s “inferior” role, due to patriarchal dominance in society. Lakoff argued that women tend to use linguistic forms that reflect and reinforce a subordinate role. These include tag questions such as hedges(phrases like; “sort of”, “kind of”, “it seems like”), empty adjectives(“divine”, “adorable”, “gorgeous”. Also that women apologized more, speak less frequently, amongst others. This approach pronounces that the female gender is deficient or lacking when compared to men, who speak in a more confident and commanding manner. This is as a result of the historic dominant patriarchal conventions, limiting women’s presence in society, women never had any power.
Essentially she grows nervous when faced with the opportunity of giving an opinion.According to Lakoff (1975), women tend to do this because they are less sure about themselves and their opinions when compared to men , who speak in more dominant and asserted manner; associated with men being more confident and self-assured. The different use of language also shows that women are more likely to lack confidence.
This approach was challenged because of the implication that there was something intrinsically wrong with women’s language, and that women should learn to speak like men if they wanted to be taken seriously. This conversation which you sometimes see practised is where the man is shown to be weaker as he is asking for reassurance, via the Tag questions. I believe this is due to the fact that stereotypically a woman would be doing the housework, therefore making them an ‘expert’. This may make the man feel insecure, that he may do it wrong as he is automatically believed to be worse at housework as he stereotypically goes out to work.
Therefore asking Tag questions to make sure that he is doing the housework correct, like the woman. In You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in Conversation(1990) by Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics, and protégé of Robin Lakoff, addresses linguistic differences as they relate to intimate male and female relations, and attempts to explain why it is so complicated to relay our thoughts across the gender gap, with a theory that Deborah Tannen coined the “Genderlect theory”. The term ‘Genderlect Theory’ developed the perspective that the conversation of men and women are not “right and wrong”, “superior nor inferior”, they are just different(hence difference theory or difference approach). While Tannen agrees that women’s language is indeed weak, her research shows that the contrast between the communication styles of men and women go far beyond mere socialization, and appear to be inherent in the basic make up of each sex. She feels that these gender differences are “because boys and girls are different cultures, hence, talk between women and men is recognized as cross-cultural communication” (Tannen D p.
18. She believes the difference