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Cross-Cultural Communication Style of Women and Men

Introduction

Men and women are different in various ways. From birth, males and females differ greatly. These differences are both physiological and psychological. For example, when a child is learning a language, the female child is noted to have a good memory in that she can recall faster. This ability to recall faster makes her a good learner. On the other hand, the male child is said to maintain a sense of direction. This makes men be good learners of visual-spatial sciences and mathematics. Some factors contribute to these differences one of them being the social factor (Hudson 103).

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Gender and Linguistics

The males and the females exhibit two different cultural worlds even if they are in the same interactive setting. This is seen in the use of language by men and women. In other words, men and women use language differently although they are in the same environment. This is due to different perspectives of gender in society as well as the different roles and statuses of the two genders in the community. A language is therefore a tool that just reflects this. Both mediums of language, that is, written and spoken show that men and women communicate differently (Heath and Gordon 433).

Female Form Male Form Meaning
Lakawein Lakaweis Don’t like it!
Lakawwil Lakawwis I’m lifting it
Lakawwilit Lakawwilie I lifted it

Anthropologists have referred to linguistics to try and understand the difference between males and females. Studies have led to the coining of the phrase “sex-exclusive” forms of language which refers to the distinction in linguistics that has traditionally been made between the male and female speakers. An example is suggested by Hudson (214) of the study carried out among the Koasati people as shown in the table below

  • Female Form
  • Male Form
  • Meaning

Lakawein

Lakaweis

Don’t like it!

Lakawwil

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Lakawwis

I’m lifting it

Lakawwilit

Lakawwilie

I lifted it

One of the languages that have interested experts in the Japanese language. The Japanese form of language distinguishes the males and the females not only in grammar but also in phonology and lexis. The impact of this is that the language generally implies that women are more polite, they are more soft-spoken, and that the women are less self-assertive as opposed to their male counterparts.

Language is one of the revealers of the place of the female and the male in the different societies of the world. These factors have made the Japanese woman attain a coveted position among the women of the other societies in the world. It is thought that the language of the female Japanese carries the elegance and the beauty that is characteristic of the female’s something that may not be very developed in other societies (Shlomo et al 20).

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The age factor also largely influences the different use of language forms. It was noted especially among the Japanese that older women tend to use the feminine forms of language more often than the younger female speakers. The geographical locations of the speakers were also

considered to be an influencer of forms of language as it was realized that the female Japanese living in the urban settlements tended to use the feminine forms of speech more frequently than did those in the rural settlements (Heath and Gordon 423).

Distinguishing Between Women and Men

There exist major differences in the use of linguistic forms in the speech of men and women. Men and women’s use of language differs even though they live in the same speech community. It has been observed that women have some common terminologies that they use in communication which is well understood by the men counterparts but the men would not be caught dead using those terms in day-to-day communication. Similarly, men also have some common terms that they use that are well understood by the women although the women would become a laughing stock if they attempted to use them in conversation. This fact has led to a form of linguistics in which the males and the females are talking the same language yet it appears they are talking in two different languages altogether (Shlomo et al 20).

It is worth noting, these linguistic forms contrast in all speech communities. In a speech, there is a likelihood of getting men and women who speak the same language but have different linguistic features. This is in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary as well as morphology. Women prefer using standard and formal language in their use of language, unlike men who use non-standard language. The reason behind this is that women are entrusted with taking care of the culture. This is through teaching children language and culture. In addition, they are expected to develop and maintain relationships as well as enhance intimacy. This is unlike men who use language to achieve status and independence.

The females will tend to use terms that have been said to provide conversational support. These are words or phrases that will generally encourage the other speaker to keep on conversation and they are often in question form. Examples include, “yeah?” “Really?” and “mmm?” Experts have observed that women will generally be more tentative in their conversations.

These forms of speech tend to suggest uncertainty in the language of the female speakers that is not characteristic of the male speakers. These will include terms like, “you know…”, “sort of”, “I was thinking”, “maybe I shouldn’t…”, “what if…” It is this form of speech that makes the female communicator less assertive. The study of speech patterns has also revealed that females are more likely to receive more compliments than males during an average conversation. Consequently, the females tend to pay more compliments than their male counterparts during an average conversation (Heath and Gordon 437).

One of the other main differences that come out in language among the males and the females is the vocabulary. For instance, males are generally thought to have a larger vocabulary in sports while females are thought to be more versed in colors and their different names and variants (Heath and Gordon 437). Here are two examples of the differences that exist in male and female conversations

Female Conversation

A: “That’s a pretty dress”

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B: “You think so? Thanks. I bought it at Woolworth”

A: “I particularly like the color”

B: “really, me too. I had a hard time selecting it though because it also comes in beige and royal blue”

A: “really? But you made a good choice, purple looks good on you.”

B: Thanks a lot

Male Conversation

Father: “I am going to take a nap but do wake me up at four.”

Son: “why?”

Father: “There is a game at four I want to watch.”

Son: “which teams?”

Father: “Juventus versus Arsenal”

Son: “O.K. we will watch together”

From the above examples, it can be inferred that the females generally hold more fluid conversations. The father and son conversation is a simple short question and short answer approach while the female conversation is more detailed. The female will go a step further to compliment her friend on the good choice of the dress. This is one of the characteristics of the female conversation. As we can see, the females also have a good general knowledge of the colors while the males are more interested in sports. The female conversation will also be generally longer than the male conversation (Hudson 76).

Experts have also observed that there are generally more interruptions in a conversation amongst a couple of females as opposed to a conversation amongst a couple of males. The females will generally have their reaction and response to every sentiment and would want to make it known immediately while the men will take a longer time to respond and they will often allow a speaker to finish rather than interrupt him.

Written Work

Cross-cultural communication style is not only evident in speech but also written work. For example, women tend to be brief in their writing such as in SMS and other messages such as e-mails. By doing this women calls for continuous communication, unlike men who aim to achieve consensus. Some people believe that differences in language usage simply reflect different roles and statuses held by two genders.

Women are always given low status and are given social pressure to behave they do things and talk. This results in women using question tags, hedges, and intensifiers. Women use facilitative tags which are based on the person being addressed. They indicate intimacy between the speakers. Men on the other hand use modal tags which are self-oriented and exhibit the speaker’s influence on the addressee to confirm his ideas (Shlomo et al 15).

To make the differences between the male and female writings more clear, I will quote two writings from the same journal one from a male writer and the other from a male writer. The first excerpt is written by Simpson Paul (Shlomo et al 15)

The main aim of this article is to propose an exercise in stylistic analysis which can be employed in the teaching of the English language. It details the design and results of a workshop activity on narrative carried out with undergraduates in a university department of English. The methods proposed are intended to enable students to obtain insights into aspects of cohesion and narrative structure: insights, it is suggested, which are not as readily obtainable through more traditional techniques of stylistic analysis. The text chosen for analysis is a short story by Ernest Hemingway comprising only 11 sentences. A jumbled version of this story is presented to students who are asked to assemble a cohesive and well-formed version of the story. Their re-constructions are then compared with the original Hemingway version

My second excerpt is written by a female author, Blakemore Diane, in the same journal (Shlomo et al 15).

My aim in this article is to show that given a relevance-theoretic approach to utterance Interpretation, it is possible to develop a better understanding of what some of these so-called apposition markers indicate. It will be argued that the decision to put something in other words is essentially a decision about style, a point which is, perhaps, anticipated by Burton Roberts when he describes loose apposition as a rhetorical device. However, he does not justify this suggestion by giving the criteria for classifying a mode of expression as a rhetorical device. Nor does he specify what kind of effects might be achieved by a reformulation or explain how it achieves those effects. In this paper, I follow Sperber and Wilson’s suggestion that rhetorical devices like metaphor, irony, and repetition are particular means of achieving relevance. As I have suggested, the corrections that are made in unplanned discourse are also made in the pursuit of optimal relevance. However, these are made because the speaker recognizes that the original formulation did not achieve optimal relevance. In contrast, deliberate reformulations are designed to achieve particular contextual effects, and they should not be taken to indicate a failure to communicate any more than, for, repetition.

It is evident right from the first phrase of each quotation that one is a male author while the other is a female. The female writer uses the personal form “my aim…” while the male uses the form “the main aim…” Quite on the contrary, the male author, Simpson, takes a less personal form in the entire excerpt electing to use one pronoun throughout. Unlike the case with the female writer, Simpson continues to refer to Hemingway after he has introduced him in the text rather than use the personalized pronoun form. It is also worth noting that Simpson uses way fewer personal pronouns (only three) as opposed to Blakemore who uses a total of twelve personal pronouns.

Another sharp difference that comes out is the use of negation forms of speech. Simpson uses one negation while Blakemore uses a total of four negation statements. In addition, the male writer uses more “of” statements in the modification of nouns as compared to the female writer. These differences bring out the important distinguishing factor between male and female writers since male writers don’t personalize their writing as much as female writers do.

Conclusion

The female and the male forms of communication have been under study since time immemorial. The differences that exist in communication between the males and the females within a society stem from the fact that males and females are generally different physiologically as well as psychologically. Men and women will generally use language differently although they may be in the same physical environment. The main reason behind this is the different perspectives of gender that exist in society as well as the different roles and status of the two genders in the community. A language is therefore a tool that reflects this difference.

As experts have observed, the females have some common terminologies that they use in communication which is well understood by their male counterparts but they would not be caught dead using those terms in the day to day communication. On the flip side, the males also have some common terms that they use that are well understood by the females even though the females would become a laughing stock if they attempted to use such terms in conversation. This fact has led to a form of linguistics in which the males and the females are talking the same language yet it appears they are talking in two different languages altogether. Both mediums of language, that is, written and spoken show that men and women ultimately communicate differently.

Works Cited

Heath, Jeffery and Gordon, Mathew. Sex, Sound Symbolism, and Sociolinguistics. Current Anthropology. 39.4 (1998): 421-449.

Hudson, Richard. Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Shlomo, Argamon et al. Koppel Papers. 2003. Web.

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