During the last several decades, much attention has been paid to the differences between men and women. The discussion of gender differences touches upon various fields of life, and language is not an exception. McCormick said about the differences between how men and women listen and how their brains work. The investigation of Park et al. proved the differences in male-female behaviors online. Language may influence the way society perceives males and females (Cottier). In this paper, gender differences in using the English language will be investigated to understand its characteristics and the attitudes of men and women when they choose the way of pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary.
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Social differences are observed in different actions and decisions men and women prefer to make. Phonological characteristics in the English language used by both genders cannot be ignored. Research by Ali that was based on teachers’ opinions and observations showed that male students usually demonstrate better abilities in pronunciation (82). The quantitative studies mentioned by Coates stated that about 50% of men evaluate their pronunciation accurately compared to 57% of women (63). Wahyuningsih cooperated with the working-class population and found out that in pronunciation, “women had stronger preferences for standards forms than men” (83).
There was an opinion that men liked to vibrate their vocal folds before such sounds like [b], [g], [d], but the project by Herd et al. proved vibration similarities in this case. Therefore, there is no clear differentiation between the chosen groups, and it is hard to conclude which group has better results in pronunciation. Still, the fact that women try to pronounce sounds clearer and more confident than men remains evident in everyday communication.
Intonation is another factor that may differentiate the way men and women use the English language. As a rule, women’s speech is defined as more emotional and conflict-free, and they tend to use high-pitch voices because of the existing psychological and social issues (“Do Men and Women Speak a Different Language”). Social, religious, political, and cultural differences determine male and female prestige, wealth, and power, making their pitches different (Wahyuningsih 83).
It seems that men find it normal to use falling intonation to prove that they are confident in what they say and can use their power any time they want. Rising intonation of women may be a sign of politeness and the necessity to show respect. Interruption of women is a more frequent case compared to the possibility to interrupt a man (Robb). Therefore, there is an opinion that the choice of different intonation by men and women is explained by way of how both genders accept each other in society and behave themselves in a required way.
Vocabulary differences in the English language used by men and women are investigated in many studies. In the majority of cases, researchers prefer to compare such groups of words as color words, adjectives, adverbs, diminutives, and pronouns (Pamintuan 6). Color words are specific female-related words that are not frequently used by men for a purpose. They are borrowed from other languages like French or Spanish (e.g., “magnifique”) to underline the uniqueness of the position or some other issues.
The use of adjectives, pronouns, and adverbs is also predetermined by social and psychological factors. Ishikawa concluded that nouns are frequently used by men (5569 male cases compared to 3908 female cases), and women add more adjectives (2165 – women, 1582 – men) and adverbs (1887 – women, 1548 – men) (599). Diminutives in male speech may be the sign of some psychological problems when it is normal for women to use such words as “sweetie” or “bookie”.
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Language is closely related to a number of factors that determine human life. Women prefer to change their social statuses and demonstrate their best qualities to be equally accepted in society. If language is one of the possible means to achieve their goals, women are ready to use it. Men, in their turn, do not consider language as a factor for comparison and status. Therefore, the beliefs about English language policies and rules are stronger developed in females than in males (Alnasser 117). As a result, the quality of language, as well as the number of efforts to meet the rules, is inherent to the way of how women use the English language in everyday life. Still, it is wrong to consider that men fail to respect the rules or follow instructions. Their pitch, intonation, and the chosen words just prove their status in society and powers.
In general, communication plays an important role in human life, and the way of how men and women choose vocabulary, intonation, and pronunciation determines the benefits and challenges of the use of their language. There are many ways to improve the quality of communication, but the differences between male and female languages will hardly disappear. Gender-related beliefs and attitudes towards the English language are frequently discussed in many studies, and this research paper helps to gain a better understanding of why men and women choose different approaches and achieve various results.
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