19. RAE A. MOSES, Northwestern University
Department of Linguistics
Language and Gender
Professor Rae A. Moses
Office Hours: M 10:30-11:30 T 1:30-3:00
and by appointment
1. They Used to Call Me Snow White,... but I Drifted,
Regina Barreca, Penguin, 1990.
2. Women, Men and Language, Jennifer Coates, Longmans,
3. The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing, Casey Miller and Kate
Swift, Barnes & Noble, 1981.
4. Language, Gender, and Society, Thorne, Kramarae, Henley,
5. Xeroxed Reading
EVALUATION: Three of the weekly projects (A-I) must be
turned in. Late mid-term. A project or research paper (8-
10% Article report & class participation
30% Projects to be written up
DATE: TOPICS and READINGS:
9/21 Introduction to the scope of the field. An overview of
language differences of women and men and how language
refers to them.
9/23 What is gender and how are the differences learned?
How does the language we speak reflect gender
2. Part One
A. Reflect on your own youth. Are there ways that you were
socialized to speak a male or female code? What models of
communication were present? How does your early
experience affect the way you use language today? Relate
to readings and lecture.
9/28 A history of the literature on gender differences in
language and how to find our way through the
4. Thorne/Karamarae Henley
9/30 How does language refer to gender? Theories about
the effect of speaking differently and of language structure
differences. How does language shape thinking?
5. Sampson,"The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis"
B. Poll 8 family or friends. How do they believe men's and
women's language are different? Evaluate their responses
in terms of the readings.
10/5 The historical roots of belief about language. The
history of words.
10/7 Grammar and Gender and the making of masculine
5. Dennis Baron, "Etymologizing Man and Woman",
"Grammar and Gender" (Ch. 9)
C. Find a text that uses sexist language and comment on
the nature of the usage. Relate to readings.
10/12 Making changes and finding new ways of expressing
3. Ch. 4,5,6
10/14 Women's ways with words, some evidence.
2. Part Two Ch. 4,5
D. Find or compose a text that is radical (uses she
generically, varies pronouns, uses funny words). Present it
to 3 or 4 people and get their reaction.
10/19 The sociolinguistic status of men's and women's
speech. How are the differences regarded?
2. Part Two, Ch. 6
10/21 The differences in how we talk: conversation
interruption, topic control and silence.
E. Eavesdrop on a mixed sex dyad or record one of your
own conversations; note the characteristics in terms of our
10/26 The differences in sound systems, word choice and
10/28 They ways we learn sex differences and children's
2. Ch. 7
F. Find a child in the park or supermarket (or perhaps
one you know). Note the ways you can tell the gender of the
child (clothes, activities, language).
11/2 Gossip, Joking and Naming ourselves: some special
functions of language.
5. Moses, "Naming Ourselves"
11/4 Language in FamiliesHow do we talk to each other?
4. Fishman Sattel
G. Interview four males and four females about their
desires regarding name change at marriage. Describe any
Observe joking behavior between you and friends of the
opposite sex and same sex. Comment.
11/9 "Hate speech" and "Politically Correct"
5. Ruth Perry, A short history of the term "Politically
11/11 Essay -- Mid-term (30%)
11/17 Talking about medical matters.
5. Emily Martin,"Medical Metaphors of Women's
Bodies: Menstruation and Menopause
West, Metaphors of gender.
11/18 The role of sex differences in language history and
11/23 I. Are there issues you find easier to talk about with
same sex and opposite sex friends?
Write a discussion question that is appropriate for this
class and then answer it.
***PROJECTS ARE DUE WEDNESDAY, December 7, 1992 by
SOME NOTES ON PROJECTS
The projects for this class are intended to give you an
opportunity to work with issues of language and gender in a
first-hand manner. You shoud find some question or issue
for which you can collect some language data or can observe
and note some feature of language. The feature of language
which you select might be a matter of sexism in language or
a way of avoiding it; it might be a way in which males
and/or females talk; or you could examine some aspect of
language use like topic choice or interruption patterns; it
could be a feature of a written text or language as it is used
orally (e.g. television broadcasters or university professors.)
You might also take up a practise such as forms of address
(Mr. vs. Miss, Mrs., Ms.). Your project could also take up an
attitude about language and involve a questionnaire and/or
interview. It is very important that the project have some
connection to the topics found on the syllabus and in the
readings. The bibliography at the end of Thorne, Henley and
Kramarae provides a catalogue of references. You might
think about replicating or altering one of these studies.
I expect your project to be 8-12 pages, but quality is not to
be confused with length. You should describe the question
you are investigating and how you intend to investigate it
(methodology). You should then explain what has been done
on the topic by others or what others have said about it and
explain why the question or topic is important. Then you
should present your results. You may want to comment on
the results, but it is not important that you say somehting
new or prove something. Many of the projects will only
provide new questions. What I'm really interested in is that
you have played with some language and tried to reason
As I have said, I am happy to have you collaborate in groups
of two or three. I will, of course, expect collaborators to
show more work than solo projects. All members of
collaborations will get the same number of points for their
A Selected Bibliography on Langage and the Sexes
Prof. Rae A. Moses
Aufderheide, Patricia (ed.) Beyond P.C. (Graywolf Press, St.
Paul, 1992). Collection on the P.C./Free Speech
Bernard, Jessie. The Sex Game (First published 1968)
(Antheneum, NY, 1972). A study of the communication
between the sexes.
*Baron, Dennis. Grammar and Gender (Yale University
Press, 1986). A comprehensive history of gender in
language, especially grammatical gender, but also lexical
*Cameron, Deborah. Feminism and Linguistics Theory (St.
Martin's Press, NY 1985). Examines the place of language
in feminist theory.
Coates, Jennifer and Deborah Cameron. Women in Their
Speech Communities (Longmans, 1988). Readings
Eakins, B.W. and C. Eakins. Sex Differences in Human
Communication (Boston ,1978). A particularly good
introduction to sex differences, especially non-verbal.
Kramarae, Cheris. Women and Men Speaking (Newbury,
Rowley, MA, 1981). Feminist theorist uses a model of
'dominant' vs. 'muted' language.
Lakoff, Robin. Language and Woman's Place (Harper and
Rowe, NY, 1975). A slim folume that summarizes both
women's language (especially politeness) and the sexism of
*Maring, Emily. The Woman in the Body (Beacon Press,
Boston, 1987). Women's bodies as metaphor.
Mead, Margaret. Male & Female (Apollo Press, 1949).
Classic on development of gender and gender in U.S.
Miller, Casey and Kate Swift. Words and Women (Anchor
Press, Doubleday, Garden City, 1976). Sexism and language
of the sexes -- a general introduction.
*_____________________. The Handbook of Non-Sexist
Writing (Women's Press, 1980). Thoughtful writer's
Nilsen, Alleen Pace, Haig Bosmajian, H. Lee Gershuny and
Julia Stanley. Sexism and Language (NCTE, Urbana,
1977). A collection of articles about sexism in language,
*Penfield, Joyce (ed.) Women & Language in Transition
(SUNY Press, 1987). Reader good on sexism and diversity.
Phillips, Susan, Susan Steele and Christine Tanz. Language,
Gender & Sex in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, NY,
Silberstein, Sandra. Bibliography: Women and Language
(Michigan Occasioal Paper No. XII, Winter, 1980). An
updated bibliography which is a good source for
Smith, Philip M. "Sex Markers in Speech", Social Markers in
Speech (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1979).
Nice literature review of gender differences.
Spender, Dale. Man Made Language (Routledge and Kegan
Paul, London, 1980). One of the most recent overviews of
sexist language and women's language use.
*Tannen, Deborah. You Just Don't Understand (Wm. Morrow
& Co., NY, 1990). Best seller that argues that men use
language to establish place in social hierarchy but women
use it as social glue that establishes intimacy, leading to
male-female communication problems.
*Thorne, Barrie and Nancy Henley. Language and Sex,
Difference and Dominance (Newbury, Rowley, MA, 1975).
Annotated bibliography, bibliographical overview plus
many classical articles.
*Thorne, Barrie, Cheris Kramarae and Nancy Henley (eds.)
Language, Gender and Society (Newbury, Rowley, MA,
1983). Newer perspective on issues raised in 1975 book
with excellent bibliography.
*Todd, Alexandra Dundas. Intimate Adversaries: Cultural
Conflict Between Doctors and Women Patients (University
of Penn Press, Philadelphia, 1989).
Stewart, Lea, Pamela Cooper and Sheryl Friedley.
Communication Between the Sexes, Gorsuch Scarisbrick
(Scottsdale, AR, 1986). An excellent text that focuses on
sex role stereotypes. Especially good on classroom, media
and business communication.
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