ERIC Number: ED142093
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Idioms and Metaphors: Vividness and Sex-Specificity as Related to Usage by Male and Female Speakers.
Russo, Lisa L.
An experiment was conducted to investigate the hypothesis that English cliches reflect sex-specific styles of speech and that sex-specificity of expressions is related to differential usage by male and female speakers. Hypotheses were derived from Tyler's claims that the "neutral sphere" is infused by the male style, rendering it an inhibiting speech environment for women. They included: (a) Can speakers reliably classify commonly used metaphors as masculine, feminine, or neutral? And, if so, by what criteria? (b) If the metaphors can be subdivided, are some more vivid and effective than others? (c) If the metaphors can be subdivided, do men and women differ in usage? Eighty idiomatic expressions were rated by subjects on a scale with regard to: (a) vividness or image-forming capacity, (b) sex-specific associations with traditional sex roles, (c) subject's understanding of the metaphor's accepted meaning, and (d) frequency of usage by the subject. Results indicated that subjects regard some expressions as sex-specific. Of these, "masculine" expressions are more vivid, and more often include action verbs. "Feminine" expressions are considered dull, and more often include no verbs, or passive or static verbs. Expressions most frequently used by both women and men tend to be sex-neutral. (Author)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (16th, Greensboro, North Carolina, March, 1977)