ERIC Number: ED159705
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Mar
Sex Differences in Language: A Cross-National Perspective with Emphasis on English.
DeStefano, Johanna S.
Sex-related language stereotypes and sex-related differences in language usage are examined in this paper, and some recent research findings that illuminate them are reported. The following topics are among those discussed: seemingly universal characterizations of women's speech as gossip, nagging, or chatting, partially explained by most societies' more positive view of males than of females; sex-based differences in the semantic system of many languages, in terms of the lexical choices made by males and females; the way in which forms of address reflect the power and status of males and females; the way in which semantics and syntax sometimes conflict in languages' gender systems; and the use of so-called sex-neutral terms such as "man" and "mankind" to refer to both sexes. A study is then described in which subjects were asked to select male, female, or male and female referents for statements containing so-called sex-neutral terms; preliminary findings indicate that the concept of a consistently sex-neutral or inclusive term in English is not supportable, despite claims to the contrary, and that the term "man" in particular emerges as a sex-marked male referent rather than a neutral term. (GW)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association (St. Louis, Missouri, March 1977)