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Doctoral Thesis VOL.1
Supervisor: doc. PhDr. Magdaléna Bilá, Ph.D
Brno 2012 Mgr. Kristína Urbančíková
I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently, using only the primary and
secondary sources listed in the bibliography.
Mgr. Kristína Urbančíková
I would like to express my deep gratitude to my supervisor, doc. PhDr. Magdaléna Bilá, Ph.D., for her guidance, valuable feedback and support that she provided throughout this
Furthermore, I would like to express my thanks to Patricia McClung who very carefully and
patiently proofread the thesis.
Last but not least and for me the most important person, I would like to thank my Mom for her moral support. Without her patience and tolerance this thesis would have never been
2 HISTORY OF FEMINISM………………………………………………………………………………………………………..11
2.2 First Wave Feminism…………………………………………………………………………………………………………16
2.2.1 Many Wollstonecraft……………………………………………………………………………………………………….17
2.2.2 Early 19th Century and the End of First Wave Feminism………………………………………………………19
2.3 Second Wave Feminism……………………………………………………………………………………………………..23
2.3.1 Betty Friedan and Feminine Mystique………………………………………………………………………………..24
2.3.2 Lines of the Second Wave Feminism…………………………………………………………………………………..26
2.4 Third Wave Feminism……………………………………………………………………………………………………….29
2.4.1 Feminism of the 21st Century…………………………………………………………………………………………….30
2.4.2 Women and the Arab Spring……………………………………………………………………………………………..30
3 FEMALE POLITICS………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..33
3.1 First Women in Politics……………………………………………………………………………………………………34
3.2 Conventions, Declarations and Acts………………………………………………………………………………36
3.2.1 Seneca Falls Convention………………………………………………………………………………………………….36
3.2.2 Declarations and Acts………………………………………………………………………………………………………38
4 LANGUAGE AND GENDER…………………………………………………………………………………………………….41
4.1 Language vs. Speech………………………………………………………………………………………………………..41
4.2 Gender vs. Sex………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….44
4.2.1 Gender Stereotypes………………………………………………………………………………………………………….44
4.3 Language and Gender……………………………………………………………………………………………………..46
4.3.1 First Research and Findings……………………………………………………………………………………………..49
4.3.2 Second Wave Feminist Linguistics……………………………………………………………………………………..50
4.3.3 Third Wave Feminist Linguistics……………………………………………………………………………………….54
4.3.4 Tag Questions, Interruptions and Pronunciation…………………………………………………………………56
4.3.5 Sexism in Language…………………………………………………………………………………………………………63
126.96.36.199 Indirect Sexism and Its Elimination………………………………………………………………………………………….66
4.4 Sex Differences in Communication of Leaders………………………………………………………………..69
4.5 Reasons of Variations……………………………………………………………………………………………………..70
4.5.1 Sex and the Brain…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….70
4.5.2 Verbal Abilities……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….71
4.5.3 Sociolinguistic Reasons……………………………………………………………………………………………………72
5 DISCOURSE AND DISCOURSE ANALYSIS……………………………………………………………………………73
5.1 Spoken Discourse……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..76
5.2 Conversational Analysis (CA)………………………………………………………………………………………..78
5.3 Discourse Analysis (DA)………………………………………………………………………………………………….79
5.4 Critical Discourse Analysis (CD A)…………………………………………………………………………………82
5.5 Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis (FCDA)…………………………………………………………………84
6 LANGUAGE OF POLITICS……………………………………………………………………………………………………..87
6.1 Political Cognition and Political Discourse………………………………………………………………….88
6.1.1 Political Cognition…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..89
188.8.131.52 Opinions and Attitudes……………………………………………………………………………………………………………90
6.1.2 Political Discourse………………………………………………………………………………………………………….91
184.108.40.206 Political Discourse Structures and Strategies……………………………………………………………………………..93
7 METHODOLOGY OF RESEARCH………………………………………………………………………………………….97
7.1 Sociolinguistic Research…………………………………………………………………………………………………99
7.1.1 Quantitative and Qualitative Research……………………………………………………………………………..100
7.2 First Research Attempts………………………………………………………………………………………………..101
7.2.2 Presidential and Vice – Presidential Debates…………………………………………………………………….103
7.3 Research Design – Press Briefings…………………………………………………………………………………104
7.3.1 Aims and Hypotheses……………………………………………………………………………………………………..105
7.3.2 Research Strategy, Sampling, Collection and Analysis……………………………………………………….106
8 FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATIONS…………………………………………………………………………………..110
8.1 Hypothesis 1 – Powerless Language………………………………………………………………………………110
8.2 Hypothesis 2 – Wording………………………………………………………………………………………………….114
9 SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH……………………………………………………………………….122
Glossary of terms ………………………………………………………………………………………………..125
List of Tables……………………………………………………………………………………………………129
An art whose medium is language will always show a high degree of critical creativeness, for speech is itself a critique of life: it names, it characterizes, it passes judgment, in that it
During the past five decades, studies of the relations between language and society have coalesced to form the field of academic research known as sociolinguistics. In 1952 the late Haver C. Currie published a paper entitled “Projection of sociolinguists: the relationship of speech to social status”. It took some time for the term sociolinguistics to take root, but by the early 1960s the first sociolinguistic conferences were being held and anthologies of articles dealing with properties of language calling for the inclusion of social factors in their analysis had started to appear. In the meantime, hundreds of research papers and books on the social organization of language behaviour have been published, and sociolinguistics has become a recognized branch of the social sciences with its own scholarly journals, conferences, textbooks, and readers of seminal articles. The sociolinguistic enterprise has grown so much that it is difficult to keep up with developments in its various subfields.
The interest in the study of language-society relationship also gave rise to the language-gender studies. The academic study of gender has a relatively short history. Its emergence can be dated as recently as the late 1960s, and its development triggered by second wave feminism. Along with developing a critique of gender inequalities, in both personal relationships and in social positioning, second wave feminism began to draw attention to the ways in which academic disciplines and sets of knowledge acted to exclude the experiences, interests and identities of women. For example, prior to the 1970s, the social sciences in general, and sociology in particular, largely ignored gender. The ‘people’ it studies were mainly men and the topics it focused on were aspects of the social world especially significant for men, such as paid work and politics. Women were almost invisible in the pre-1970s gender-blind sociology, only featuring in their traditional roles as wives and mothers within families. Differences and inequalities between women and men at this time were not recognized as an issue of sociological concern and were not seen as problems to be addressed. In the context of second wave feminist critiques a number of disciplines across the social sciences, the arts and humanities began to pay increasing attention to gender. Thus, in sociology during the 1970, differences and inequalities between women and man came to be regarded, especially by women sociologists, as problems to be examined and explained. Initially, studies were focused on Tilling in the gaps’ in knowledge about women, gaps left by the prior male bias. Attention gradually moved to those aspects of experiences especially significant to women, including paid work, housework, motherhood and male violence.
Robin Lakoff s Language and Women’s Place is considered the book which gave birth to the above mentioned study of language and gender in the field of sociolinguistics and gender studies. In her book she argued that women’s register served to maintain women’s inferior role in society. In her view, women tended to use linguistic forms that reflect and reinforce a subordinate role (use of tag questions, question intonation, hedges, correct grammar, etc.).
A 1980 study by William O’Barr and Bowman Atkins looked at courtroom cases and witnesses’ speech. Their findings challenged Lakoff’s view of women’s language. In researching what they described as “powerless language”, they show that language differences are based on situation-specific authority or power and not gender. However, there may be social contexts where women are (for other reasons) more or less the same as those who lack power. But this is a far more limited claim than that made by Dale Spender, who identified power with a male patriarchal order – the theory of dominance (theory that in mixed-sex conversations men are more likely to interrupt than women).
Whether the theory of dominance or gender itself, the given dissertation thesis aims at analyzing the differences in speeches of female and male political leaders based on their press briefings with journalists.
The whole thesis is divided into two parts – a theoretical and a practical one.
The text of the theoretical part has been divided into five chapters. Following the Introduction, chapters two and three, History of Feminism and Female Politics give a short historical overview of women issues. Both of these topics are important for the sociolinguistic character of the dissertation. The later one, moreover, attempts at presenting how women issues are “protected” via different declarations and acts. The fourth chapter, Language and Gender, deals not only with the pioneering studies regarding the topic being studied and examined, but it also gives a look at the issue from a recent perspective. Moreover, it introduces the possible reasons of the variations and differences in speeches of females and males. Discourse and Discourse Analysis, chapter five, presents a brief explanation of the term as well as its different types. Furthermore, it introduces different approaches to discourse analysis with Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis being the newest branch of Discourse Analysis. The last chapter of the theoretical part, Language and Politics, introduces the main concepts, features and strategies of the language used in politics.
The five above described theoretical parts are complemented by a practical section. Methodology of Research describes both the methods used for sociolinguistic research and those ones used for the purposes of the thesis. Furthermore, the chapter describes the material based on which the research was conducted as well as the hypotheses which will be dealt with and analysed. Findings and Interpretations attempts at evaluating and interpreting the results gained from the research. Chapter nine, Suggestions for Further Research, presents topics which were beyond the scope of the present study but which may be studied and analysed in future sociolinguistic research dealing with language and gender. Conclusion, being the last chapter, summarizes the main points of the work.
The List of Tables and Glossary of Terms can be found after the last chapter of the thesis.
2 HISTORY OF FEMINISM
The position of women in social life was for a long time a matter of course. It did not arise as a question, because it was taken for granted. The dominance of men seemed to derive so obviously from natural causes, from the possession of physical, moral and intellectual faculties which were wanting in women, that no one thought of questioning the situation. At the same time, the inferiority of women was never conceived as so great as to diminish seriously, much less to eliminate altogether, her responsibility for crimes she might commit. There were cases, of course, such as that of offences committed by women under coverture, in which a diminution of responsibility was recognised and was given effect to in condonation of the offence and in mitigation of the punishment. But there was no sentiment in general in favour of a female more than of a male criminal. It entered into the head of no one to weep tears of pity over the murderess of a lover or husband rather than over the murderer of a sweetheart or wife. Similarly, a minor offender, a female blackmailer, a female thief, a female perpetrator of an assault, was not deemed less guilty or worthy of more lenient treatment than a male offender in like cases. The law, it was assumed, and the assumption acted upon, was the same for both sexes. The sexes were equal before the law. The laws were harsher in some respects than now, although not perhaps in all. But there was no special line of demarcation as regards to the punishment of offences as between men and women. The penalty ordained by the law for crime or misdemeanour was the same for both and in general applied equally to both. Likewise in civil suits, proceedings were not specially weighted against the man and in favour of the woman. There was, as a general rule, no very noticeable sex partiality in the administration of the law.
This state of affairs continued till well into the 19th century. Thenceforward a change has begun to take place, the change called Feminism.
Any attempt to introduce and explain feminism, feminist movements and feminists themselves faces numerous challenges. Where to start, who to include, what to leave out and when to stop are all important considerations.
Although society applied itself to women’s issues in more detail at the beginning of the 20 century, women’s conscious struggle to resist discrimination and sexist oppression goes back much further.
As early as the 4th century BC, Aristotle declared that “women were women by virtue of a certain lack of qualities” (Jenainati, 2007). Early thinking about the difference between women and men was based on essentialist ideas about gender which maintained that women’s and men’s differences are a result of biology. The belief that biology is destiny suggests that men exhibit ‘masculine’ psychological traits such as aggressiveness, whereas women will exhibit ‘feminine’ traits such as gentleness, intuitiveness and sensitivity. Essentialism sees men as able to think logically, abstractly and analytically, while women are mainly emotional, compassionate and nurturing creatures.
Historian Gerda Lerner (1993), in her analyses of historical documents, reconstructed the protest of medieval women against patriarchy; however, their activities have never been documented properly. Women were dislodged from the creation of history as only men were the ones who could create it, say how to understand it and more importantly, they were the ones who said what to include into the history of mankind. Lerner claimed that everything that explained the world had in fact explained a non-existing world, a world in which men were at the centre of the human enterprise and women were at the margin. In her view such a world does not exist and never has existed. Women who opposed this gender inequality were not able to learn more about their predecessors’ effort and this impeded the birth of feminist awareness – an idea propagating that social inequality refers to women as a group and their subordination is socially constructed and maintained by the system which can be replaced only by fair social organization.
Early Modern English society (1550-1700) was still founded on the rule of the father. Women had no formal rights and were not represented in the law. Even if some women were able to receive a higher education, they were not allowed to receive the degree for which they studied. In marriage, the woman’s body belonged to her husband, who was also the only legal guardian of the children.
Writing on women’s issues in the late 16th century began to proliferate, with a number of essays challenging the ideal of the female as chaste, silent and obedient. Rachel Speght’s A
Muzzle for Melastomus questioned the story of Adam’s fall from the garden of Eden, taking issue with the underlying assumption that Adam had been seduced by Eve to eat the apple (in Gamble, 2006): “If Adam had not approved of that deed which Eve has done, and been willing to tread the steps which she had gone, he being her head would have reproved her.”
In 1688, the Glorious Revolution saw the rejection of monarchical patriarchy with the overthrow of James II, initiating a wave of publications by literary women such as Aphra Behn and Lady Chudleigh, whose poem in 1703 expressed the feelings of the era:
To the Ladies
Wife and servant are the same, But only differ in the name. For when that fatal knot is ty’d, Which nothing, nothing can divide: When she the word “obey ” has said, And man by law supreme has made, Then all that’s kind is laid aside, And nothing left but state and pride: Fierce as an Eastern Prince he grows, And all his innate rigor shows: Then but to look, to laugh, or speak, Will the nuptial contract break. Like mutes, she signs alone make, And never any freedom take: But still be governed by a nod, And fear her husband as a God: Him still must serve, him still obey, And nothing act, and nothing say, But what her haughty lord thinks fit, Who with the power, has all the wit. Then shun, oh shun that wretched state And all the fawning flatterers hate. Value yourselves and men despise: You must be proud if you’ll be wise.
A significant change came with Quakers who did not accept any form of hierarchy between people. Within the family, they did not differentiate between the social roles of men and women. As a result, many females were highly educated and played prominent roles in politics and education. Quaker women would travel unaccompanied, contribute to Church administration and preach to mixed audiences.
Towards the end of the 18th century a group of women publicly demanded equal status for women, mainly equal access to education. Sargent Murray and Mary Wollstonecraft came from middle or upper class families in which men believed in the philosophy of individualism and democracy claiming that all human beings have equal rights and all people should have equal conditions for their personal growth (Klein, 1984). Unfortunately, these men did not seem to change anything in the society – concerning women issues.
Although at the beginning of the 19th century women were quite successful in terms of achieving higher levels of education, their access into some professions was denied. The only possible choice, if they did not want to spend time at home cooking and washing, was philanthropical activities. Lois Banner (1986) says, there were many charitable organizations, mainly in the northern part of the USA, which were joined by ‘bored’ women.
However, even women in these organizations were divided into two subgroups. Those from middle and upper classes called for equal job opportunities and abolition of slavery whereas those from lower classes called for protection and change of behaviour towards them. By force of circumstances, poor women were forced to work away from homes to provide for their families. Usually, they earned $ 1 – $ 3 a week in overcrowded and unsafe factories.
Work in charitable organizations led them to the ideas of feminism. The idea of and effort for equal job opportunities were mainly local but the ideas of abolitionism spread soon and became nationwide. While fighting for the rights of slaves, many women realized that their position within the society was the same and soon the ‘abolition’ struggle became a struggle for the rights of women.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, many notable female figures were outspoken about the need to challenge women’s subordinate social position. Their writings expressed the legacy of the Age of Enlightenment by insisting that we must use reason as opposed to faith to discover any truth about our existence. One consequence of this emphasis on the rational is the impulse towards social planning. Social planners believed it to be their duty to plan and
order the world around them. The Anglo-American social reformer Frances Wright attempted to model this belief when she set up her own Nashoba community in which she ensured the emancipation of slaves. She believed that for women and slaves more schooling and less churchgoing would ensure independence and guarantee their happiness. Unfortunately, there were several factors which contributed to the failure of her experiment – negative publicity and antagonism from the general public.
At the same time Harriet Martineau and John Stuart Mill tried to change the opinion of society yet they spoke mainly to an elite social audience in spite of their attempts to put their theories into action.
In the Anglo-American tradition, early thinking about women followed broadly two strategies. The first one, the relational perspective, defined women’s rights in relation to women’s unique contribution to the commonwealth and their childbearing and nurturing capacities. The second one, the individual perspective, emphasized the individual’s need for personal fulfilment and autonomy while downplaying all socially constructed notions of gender identity.
As the movements for women’s rights became more organized not only in Britain but also in the United States, the second half of 19th century gave rise to the first wave feminism and to ‘feminist’ women. The word ‘feminist’ appeared in the English language in the 1890s; nevertheless, the earliest examples of the word carried a negative meaning. Hubbard (1915) characterizes a feminist as “a woman who wants all the privileges of woman, and all the rights of man, and does not want the duties of woman. Is generally a man-hater. Is an Egotist with no motherly sentiments. Neither man, nor woman, but a being more correctly referred to as ‘IT’.” Furthermore, women “preach the gospel of unholy discontent, are born agitators and they love to fight; they prefer war to peace, turmoil to tranquillity; contention to concord; pride to humility; sophistry to truth; agnosticism to belief and prefer to assert their own wills, live their own lives as against the precepts of all conventional morality; make Cleopatra and Delilah their models, and if mere men do not bow down to their wills, they treat them as Delilah did Samson; claim that men have subjected them to sex slavery and economical servitude, from which they demand liberation, so they may be made free women; hate men except cases in which men are used for their purposes. ”
2.2 First Wave Feminism
First wave feminism refers to the organized feminist activity which evolved in Britain and the USA in the second half of the 19th century. Feminists were not particularly concerned with working-class women, and did not label themselves with injustices that they had experienced on a personal basis. The major achievements of the first wave feminists were the opening of higher education to women and the reform of secondary education for girls, and the enactment of the Married Women’s Property Act in 1980. They remained active until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
One of the most influential women of those days was Abigail Adams, the wife of the second American President. During the American Revolution she and her husband lived apart by virtue of his political commitments. She spoke up for married women’s property rights and more opportunities for women, particularly in education. She believed that women should not submit to laws clearly not made in their interest. Women should not content themselves with the roles of being decorous companions to their husbands. They should educate themselves and be recognized for their intellectual capabilities, for their ability to shoulder responsibilities of managing household, family, and financial affairs, and for their capacity morally to guide and influence the lives of their children and husbands. Although she did not insist on full female enfranchisement, in her celebrated letter of March, 1776, she urged her husband to “remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation.” Although her opinions were influential in small circles, they remained largely unheard. Two months before the Declaration of Independence was written, she said “whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining absolute power over your wives. But you must remember that arbitrary power is most like other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken.”
2.2.1 Marry Wollstonecraft
The forward-thinking, progressive and talented Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of feminist thoughts. Born to a not very successful middle-class family, her early life was a chilling reminder of how little education was available to girls in that period. Most girls were taught at home either by their mothers or by poorly trained governesses. In the later part of the century, private schools for middle-class girls flourished, but many simply concentrated on helping their pupils to be graceful and well-mannered, readying them for ‘good’ marriages. Wollstonecraft had briefly attended a day school in Yorkshire, but she was essentially self-educated. At one point a neighbouring clergyman lent her books which she studied rigorously.
When she was in her 30s, Joseph Johnson, a radical publisher, rescued her from paralysing depression and offered her work on his new Analytical Review. She began regularly reviewing and translating for him; she clearly educated herself by reading and writing. Her friendship with the radical intellectuals built up her confidence as a writer and in 1787 her first book, Thoughts on the Education of Daughter, was published. It is a well-argued plea for girls to be given the chance to develop their God-given intelligence. The urgency she described in the book sprang from her own difficulties in picking up an education, as well as from her contempt for the frivolity of so many fashionable women. The book was soon followed by Mary, A Fiction, which remains an interesting account of growing up in a society that offers girls little support and few prospects.
By 1790, Wollstonecraft was feeling confident enough to tackle politics; A vindication of the Rights of Man is a scathing and occasionally unpleasantly personal attack on Edmund Burke’s conservative Reflections Upon the Revolution in France. She accused him of sentimentality and a kind of corrupt femininity; she compared him to ‘a celebrated beauty’ desperate for admiration.
However, her greatest piece of art is A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in which she set out to speak “for my sex, not for myself.” This fusion of education curriculum and political manifesto is driven by the succinct argument that if women have duties to society, they must then be entitled to rights. She challenged the sentimentalized popular perception of women, and argued that wives should not be decorative toys, but intellectual companions. As she wrote in her introductory notes: “My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like
rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone. I earnestly wish to point out in what true dignity and human happiness consists. I wish to persuade women to endeavour to acquire strength, both of mind and body, and to convince them that the soft phrases, susceptibility of heart, delicacy of sentiment, and refinement of taste, are almost synonymous with epithets of weakness, and that those beings who are only the objects of pity, and that kind of love which has been termed its sister, will soon become objects of contempt.”
Wollstonecraft admitted that, in the times in which she lived, women were inferior, oppressed from birth, uneducated and insulated from the real world. Masculine gallantry and flattery are seen simply as attempts to keep women in their places, and the most feminine woman is the one who best fulfills male fantasies. Feminity, she argues, is too often an artificial, class-based construct, no more than an anxious demonstration of gentility. Girls learn how to be women when they are only babies; as they grow older, they exploit femininity. This is a covert admission of women’s inferiority; but women are no more ‘naturally’ inferior than the poor are ‘naturally’ stupid or ignorant. She added, furthermore, that all the women she knew had acted like rational creatures. Not only did she argue forcefully for better education for girls, but also for something new in her day: universal education at the age of 9.
Any woman who tried to act like a human being risked being labelled ‘masculine’, and she admitted that the fear of being thought unwomanly ran very deep in her sex. But if masculinity meant behaving rationally and virtuously, she recommended that we all “grow more and more masculine”. Even though she defended women’s potential powers, she was scathing about the actual behaviour of many of her contemporaries. “Told from their infancy and taught by the examples of their mother’s that they must find a man to support them, they learn to exploit their charms and looks until they find a man willing to support them. ” They rarely thought and had few feelings. But Wollstonecraft also accepted that it could not change everything: “Men and women must be educated, in a great degree, by the opinions and manners of the society they live in. In every age there has been a stream of popular opinion that has carried all before it, and given a family character, as it were, to the century. It may then fairly be inferred, that, till society be differently constituted, much cannot be expected from education. It is, however, sufficient for my present purpose to assert that, whatever effect circumstances have on the abilities, every being may become virtuous by the exercise of its own reason; for if but one being was created with vicious inclinations, that is positively bad, what can save us from atheism? Or if we worship a God, is not that God a devil?” In
this present state of things, she found it hardly surprising that so many women were ignorant, lazy, and irresponsible.
Unfortunately, not all women shared the same opinions as she did. What was very sad was the fact that even some highly literate women were among Wollstonecraft’s sharpest critics. Hanna More, for instance, refused to read Wollstonecraft’s book for its very title was ‘absurd’. Hannah Cowley, an English dramatist and poet, protested coyly that politics are unfeminine.
Mary’s Vindication may seem dated but she was an effective writer. The book is highly readable, and it remains one of the foundation stones of contemporary feminism. Her argument is circular and, because it is explanatory, often breaking new ground, can seem at times confused. She was sharply aware of the personal difficulties that women experienced in her society. She argued that an understanding of childhood is central to any self-knowledge. The ability to recognize one’s own childishness was crucial to maturity: “Till I can form some idea of the whole of my existence, I must be content to weep and dance like a child – long for a toy, and be tired of it as soon as I get it.” A few months later, she wrote sadly to the philosopher William Godwin that “my imagination is forever betraying me into fresh misery, and I perceive that I shall be a child to the end of the chapter” (Walters, 2005).
2.2.2 Early 19th Century and the End of First Wave Feminism
Early modern society, following the civil acts from the beginning of the 19th century, brought equality rights among sexes at least in terms of modern institution. However, people’s future was predestined by their sex. While a man was treated as an autonomous person having his own mind and decisions, woman’s role was quite the opposite. She had to submit herself to her husband and give up self-realization. Man was a citizen with civil rights; woman was a non-citizen without civil rights.
The most important criterion in modern society was money. As men went to work and earned money, women were regarded as dependent ‘creatures’ although in poor families women and men worked together. In middle and upper class societies women did work which was unpaid, not productive and their economic role was shrunk to the so-called management of consumption.
The work of men was productive and due to increasing requirements it became more organized. Men learnt how to live in public places and modern institutions, whereas women were isolated and they did not have any opportunity to understand the society. As they were pushed out from public places, life was strictly divided into public and private sphere. Women were becoming the images of men – their authority and social status. Family was understood as a man’s refuge. Children were brought up only by their mothers, however, under father’s rules. Social border which was between social classes was suddenly in families and between family members. Woman and man were understood as two completely different people having different life programs based on Napoleon’s Civil Code from 1804:
Married persons owe to each other fidelity and assistance.
The husband owes protection to his wife, the wife obedience to her husband.
The wife is obliged to live with her husband, and to follow him to every place
where he may judge it convenient to reside: the husband is obliged to receive her,
and to furnish her with every necessity for the wants of life, according to his
means and station.
The wife cannot plead in her own name without the authority of her husband, even though she should be a public trader, or non-communicant, or separate in property.
The authority of the husband is not necessary when the wife is prosecuted in a criminal manner, or relating to police.
A wife, although non-communicant or separate in property, cannot give, pledge, or acquire by free or chargeable title, without the concurrence of her husband in the act, or his consent in writing.
If the husband refuses to authorize his wife to plead in her own name, the judge may give her authority.
If the husband refuses to authorize his wife to pass an act, the wife may cause her husband to be cited directly before the court of the first instance, of the circle of their common domicile, which may give or refuse its authority, after the husband shall have been heard, or duly summoned before the chamber of council. The wife, if she is a public trader, may, without the authority of her husband, bind herself for that which concerns her trade; and in the said case she binds also her husband, if there be a community between them. She is not reputed a public trader
if she merely retails goods in her husband’s trade, but only when she carries on a separate business.
When the husband is subjected to a condemnation, carrying with it an afflictive or infamous punishment, although it may have been pronounced merely for contumacy, the wife, though of age, cannot, during the continuance of such punishment, plead in her own name or contract, until after authority given by the judge, who may in such case give his authority without hearing or summoning the husband.
The wife may make a will without the authority of her husband.
According to the Code, women were treated as legally incapable. Therefore it was important to realize that in the fights for suffrage it was not only about the right itself but also about the social status and legal capacity of women.
A change came with Matthew Carey, an Irish publisher, who in his 1830 essay entitled ‘Rules for Husbands and Wives’ advised husbands to treat their wives as equals:
A good husband will always regard his wife as his equal; treat her with kindness, respect and attention.
He will never interfere in her domestic concerns, hiring servants, etc.
He will always keep her liberally supplied with money for furnishing his table in a
style proportioned to his means, and for the purchase of dress suitable to her station in
He will cheerfully and promptly comply with all her reasonable requests, when it can be done, without loss, or great inconvenience.
He will never allow himself to lose his temper towards her, by indifferent cookery, or irregularity on the hours of meals, or any other mismanagement of her servants, knowing the difficulty of making them do their duty.
If she has prudence and good sense, he will consult her on all great operations, involving the risque of ruin, or serious injury in case of failure. Many a man has been rescued from destruction by the wise counsels of his wife.
If distressed, or embarrassed in his circumstances, he will communicate his situation to her with candour, that she may bear his difficulties in mind, in her expenditures. Women sometimes, believing their husband’s circumstances to be far better than they
really are, expend money which cannot well be afforded, and which, if they knew their real situation, they would shrink from expending.
On the other hand, there were also suggestions for women:
A good wife will always receive her husband with smiles – leave nothing undone to
render home agreeable – and gratefully reciprocate his kindness and attention.
She will study to discover the means to gratify his inclinations, in regard to food and
cookery; in the management of her family; in her dress, manners and deportment.
She will never attempt to rule, or appear to rule her husband. Such conduct degrades
husbands – and wives always partake largely of the degradation of their husbands.
She will comply with his wishes – and, as far as possible, anticipate them.
She will avoid all altercations or arguments leading to ill-humour.
She will never attempt to interfere in his business, unless he asks her advice or
counsel, and will never attempt to control him in the management of it.
Carey’s advice attempted to emphasize the different spheres in which males and females dwelt. Women should have been restricted to household management tasks while men belonged to the public sphere where they earned money in order to provide for their family. In spite of his emphasis on equality and respect between husbands and wives, Carey could not help himself but established a clear hierarchy in the relationship.
A significant difference was also in the area of sexual morals. Not only were the boys allowed to use the services of prostitutes, they were encouraged to use them as it was healthy and necessary for life. On the contrary, girls were brought up according to the ideas of prudery; moreover, they were denied the sexual instinct. The new social role of women introduced helpless and inferior creatures.
The influence of social differences and measurements were not the same in the early modern social classes. While women from upper classes were frustrated due to not gaining a university degree, women from lower ones, who worked either as factory workers, prostitutes, servants or milk women, struggled for their everyday lives. Stefan Zweig in his World of Yesterday claims that these poor women were often hired by rich families for sexual practices of their sons, as this lowered the risk of syphilis infection.
Incentives leading to such an extreme infringement of personal liberty and development of women were varied. One of the main reasons was the accumulation of capital – men wanted
to make ensure their sons to be the only inheritors of the property. Modern age had many ideals; however, these were implemented only for men. The answer to this inequality was women’s movements in which suffragettes fought for their legal capacity, independence, education, right to vote and property law.
John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women, expressed that “in practical matters, the burthen of proof is supposed to be with those who are against liberty; who contend for any restriction or prohibition either any limitation of the general freedom of human action or any disqualification or disparity of privilege affecting one person or kind of persons, as compared with others.”
The first wave came to its end in 1930 due to several reasons. Firstly, the main goals of the movement – right to vote, education and property law – were in some way completed. After the First World War, many European countries granted women the right to vote. Secondly, the world economic crises and fascism forced women to devote themselves to other social questions.
2.3 Second Wave Feminism
Second wave feminists adopted and adapted De Beauvoir’s reasoning that women’s oppression lay in their socially constructed status of other to men. The term ‘second wave’ was coined by Marshall Lear to describe the increase in feminist activity in America and Europe from the late 1960s onwards.
Two political movements shaped the second wave: the Women’s Rights Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement. The Women’s Right Movement was composed largely of professional women who campaigned to end discrimination against women at work. The Women’s Liberation Movement emerged out of the New Left of the Women’s Rights Movement in the late 1960s. In the US, it came as a result of civil rights activism and anti-Vietnam campaigning. The Women’s Liberation Movement provided theoretical solutions to women’s oppression, whereas the Women’s Rights Movement was the more practical and socially driven movement.
2.3.1 Betty Friedan and Feminine Mystique
The most influential woman was the American feminist Betty Friedan who managed to express the feelings of discontent and boredom tormenting white women in households. These women were often locked’ in “comfortable concentration camps” (Feminine mystique, 1963) in which they realized how restricted their life was. As all their needs and dreams were subordinated to those of men and children, they experienced a feeling of intensive emptiness.
Friedan’s working career began with journalism; however, after becoming pregnant, she was dismissed. This accident made her aware of social discrimination against professional women and this was the starting point in which she started her fight for women’s rights.
In her most influential book Feminine Mystique she described the notion that American society advocated that white, middle-class women could and should only find fulfilment in life through housework, marriage, sexual passivity, and childrearing. Part of the ideology of the feminine mystique was that truly feminine women did not want higher education, careers, or political voice. Rather, they should remain happily in the home and void of careers or commitments outside the assigned domestic sphere. Despite this social expectation of femininity, many housewives wondered, “Is this all there is?” but had difficulty articulating their lack of fulfilment. Friedan deemed this unhappiness and inability to live up to the feminine mystique the “problem that has no name. ”
Influenced by Abraham Maslow, she claimed that the feminine mystique denied women their “basic human need to grow.” Situating her study of women in the post-World War II era, she argued that after the war, women were expected to return to the domestic sphere of society, which in turn inspired the feminine mystique. She claimed that men returned from war and looked to their wives for mothering.
Her study used statistics and interviews to illustrate women’s desire during the 1950s to achieve the feminine mystique. For instance, by the end of the 1950s, 14 million girls were engaged by the age of 17 and the average age of marriage dropped to 20. The number of women in college dropped from 47 per cent in 1920 to 35 per cent in 1958. During the mid-1950s, 60 per cent of female students dropped out of college to get married or to cease their higher education before they became undesirable on the marriage market. The idea that women only went to college to find a husband was a popular notion perpetuated by the
media. From touting women’s natural role as mothers and caregivers, to advocating how to properly take care of one’s husband, the media and the education system helped perpetuate all aspects of the feminine mystique.
A 1954 home economics high school textbook excerpt “How to Be a Good Wife” offered the following advice to women:
1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.
4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dust cloth over the tables.
5. During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.
6. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.
7. Be happy to see him.
8. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.
9. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.
10. Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.
11. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.
12. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.
13. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.
14. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.
15. A good wife always knows her place.
Friedan’s solution to the feminine mystique differed greatly from those in mainstream American society. Rather than trying to achieve the feminine mystique, she suggested women develop a new life plan. Housework should not be seen as a career, but as something to finish as quickly as possible. Friedan contended that it was possible for women to have a successful career and a family. Education should also change drastically from an ideological proponent of the feminine mystique to an emancipating experience for women.
The book became a best-seller and more importantly, it was the ‘stepping stone’ of contemplation about sexual politics, i.e. interest in the study of the roots of gender inequality not only in public but also in private life. Out of these considerations, the most important feminist slogan arose, “The personal is political. ”
2.3.2 Lines of the Second Wave Feminism
Women who realized they were facing a nameless problem started attending psychiatric clinics. However, the problem was gradually generalized and women saw it lay not in them but in the society.
The strength of feminist movement rose within the group of hippies which expressed a demand for women to be more independent. The second wave introduced a bigger control of women over their own bodies, right to abortion and access to education. As more women were entering the academic field, a new subject was introduced – the study of female and male issues. Publications and results of researches led by women activists significantly influenced the thinking of society and gave arguments to activist organizations.
After achieving the goals of the first wave feminism, women saw that the legal changes being done earlier solved only a small number of their problems. Except the effort for the new rules to have a bigger influence, feminists wanted the women not only to realize their rights but
also to perform them. Therefore, they focused on two basic lines in which they were trying to find the inequalities between men and women: culture (institution, language, behaviour of people) and psychology (gender identity, socializing in childhood and mechanisms of the formation of gender roles).
In feministic approaches to culture, four theses were introduced:
1. The cultural system, in which we live in, is predominantly of masculine character. Although it was established by a small circle of men, they do not realize that even they are the victims of the establishment. For it was men who created it, its character is predominantly influenced by them and the history of people is in fact the history of men.
2. Both sexes help to maintain the patriarchal scheme. Women are those who accept the establishment and do not combat it, they allow the others to oppress them.
3. As the culture is based on men, they all abuse their importance in society. It is visible not only in public but also in private affairs. Men are automatically accepted as more competent and, in comparison to women, their job advancement is easier giving them the right not to do any household work.
4. Those in charge, however, suffer from the consequences of it. They have to devote their time to ‘reign’, keep their status quo and they have to constantly demonstrate, compete and prove their success. On the other hand, as they are not engaged in house work, they have more possibilities to enjoy the real life.
It is important to mention that the cultural theses related to all levels of the problem and not merely did they contradict each other, but they even supported each other. If, for instance, women had not been persuaded that they benefited from the situation, they would not have fed the system.
The psychological line tried to give answers to questions on how people performed their femininity and masculinity and how this performance influenced relationships between people of different sex. The most important role in this area was played by the psychoanalysis.
Sigmund Freud came with the idea that gender identity was not inborn but gained through social interaction. He introduced the Oedipus and Electra complex according to which a child
is fixated on its parent of opposite sex (the son on his mother and the daughter on her father) and competes with the other parent for maternal or paternal attention.
Another important feature of the second wave was the so-called woman-centeredness in which women were persuaded to talk more about themselves, their problems and feelings yet not through the icons which had been introduced to them earlier but through their own experience. The most important current was presented by maternal feminism which played an important role in culture and public life. For the first time in the history of humankind, society learnt what being a mother really meant.
The second wave feminism gave rise to varieties of feminism, such as lesbian feminism (warns of compulsory heterosexuality which perpetuates women’s sexual oppression), cultural feminism (believes that women have been separated from each other and convinced of their inferiority), socialist feminism (believes that women are held back by lack of education and social discrimination and argues that a change in public attitudes is needed), traditional Marxist feminism (the division of labour and lack of support for working mothers defines women by their domestic responsibilities and excludes them from productive labour), radical feminism (maintains that women’s emancipation is not enough and claims that women are still oppressed and exploited), humanist feminism (argues that both women and men are forced into socially constructed masculine and feminine roles which hinder the development of their authentic selves) or ecofeminism (based on a range of ideas on ecological feminist practices).
Although dealing with women, the second wave also gave rise to men studies. It may seem that much, if not everything, was said about men but from the gender point of view only little was known about masculinity. The main aim was to analyse masculine identity, a man in different than public roles (fatherhood, partnership), and also pressure the society exerted on men in public sphere.
Feminism did not deal only with the inequality between men and women. Its main attempt was to find the equality in differences, i.e. it did not want the otherness to represent something that would create inequality and it did not want “the others” to be better or worse. The feministic approach claims that people should not look for and construct differences but they should leave every single man and woman to define his masculinity and her femininity in their own way and not to create groups which are treated differently.
2.4 Third Wave Feminism
During the 1980s, feminist activity became the target of numerous attacks by academics, journalists and public speakers who told women that their struggle for equal rights had been won and was over. Western feminism was pronounced dead (Sokolova in 2004).
However, in the early 1990s the third wave began as a response to perceived failure of the second wave and to the backlash against initiatives and movements created by the second wave. The third wave seeks to challenge or avoid what it deems the second wave’s essentialist definitions of femininity which over-emphasize the experiences of upper middle-class white women.
Sociologist Judith Lorber (1998) introduced a new categorization of three basic currents – the theory of reformed gender, the theory of gender resistance and the theory of motivated gender revolt.
The first one, the theory of reformed gender, focuses rather on the similarities than differences between men and women. Feminists struggle for women to have same opportunities as men in public life. They want women not to be seen as sex objects but as individuals who can judge and decide. Reformed gender feminists further develop the ideas of liberal, Marxist and socialist feminism.
The theory of gender resistance claims that ensuring women formal rights is not enough and it does not and cannot resolve the problem of discrimination. The movement itself does not focus only on the differences between the two sexes but it encourages women to leave men organizations and establish their own women communities. This category includes radical, lesbian, psychoanalytical and standpoint feminism. Radical and lesbian feminism focus on sexual exploitation of women, psychoanalytical derives from the ideas of Sigmund Freud and standpoint feminism attempts to analyse life only from the feminine point of view.
In comparison to the first and second wave, the theory of motivated gender revolt introduces a completely different approach. It focuses on the relationships between the two sexes based on their gender, race, ethnic origin, social status or sexual orientation. Gender inequalities are understood only as one of the many features of the complex system of society.
2.4.1 Feminism of the 21st Century
Just over a decade into the 21st century, women’s progress can be seen – and celebrated -across a range of fields. They hold the highest political offices from Thailand to Brazil, Costa Rica to Australia. A woman holds the top spot at the International Monetary Fund; another won the Nobel Prize in economics. Self-made billionaires in Beijing, tech innovators in Silicon Valley, pioneering justices in Ghana – in these and countless other areas, women are leaving their mark.
In 2003, after decades of civil war, Rwanda’s transitional government passed legislation requiring that a third of the seats in Parliament be held by women. Today, its Parliament is more than 50 per cent women, and girls are enrolled in secondary school at the same rate as boys. Last year the country was ranked first among East African nations in economic innovations.
According to a research done by Newsweek (the magazine ranked 165 countries, looking at five areas that effect women’s lives: treatment under the law, workforce participation, political power, and access to education and health care), the 20 countries that are best for women (with Iceland being on the top of the list) almost all have democratically elected governments. These countries’ economies flourish thanks to women reinvesting some 90 per cent of their income into communities and family, compared with the less than 40 per cent reinvested by men. Those countries that ranked last are poor, in some cases ripped apart by war, and largely depended on aid from the West.
2.4.2 Women and the Arab Spring
Eight months after the Egyptian revolution, as the country was preparing for its first democratic elections, many women feared they would not be represented – or worse, that existing rights may be taken away. The council of Army generals that ran the country had appointed no women to positions of power, and it did not seem interested in consulting with women’s rights groups. In the interim cabinet of 34 ministers, only one was a woman, and she was a holdover from the previous regime. A worse situation for women arose when an Army spokesman publicly questioned the morals of the women who camped in the square overnight alongside male protesters and the military administered ‘virginity tests’ to female demonstrators if arrested. A young woman recently said to Newsweek: “We ‘re not welcome
anymore. We ‘re not welcome to ask for our rights. (…) You are raised to believe that you are less than a man. In the street, at home, at school: you ‘re always seen as less. ” When activist Bothaina Kamel announced that she would seek the country’s presidency, the media asked whether the society could accept this. One man said: “All Egyptians refuse the idea. We ‘re used to men ruling. Who ruled in my house? My father]” Islamic preachers went even further with a statement according to which “a woman can’t be president because menstruation incapacitates her.”
Probably a bit more ‘revolutionary’ may be Saudi Arabia where women welcomed a surprise announcement from King Abdullah stating that women would be permitted to vote and run in future municipal elections because “we refuse to marginalize women in society in all roles that comply with Sharia, we have decided, after deliberation with our senior ulama [clerics] … to involve women in the Shura Council as member. (…) Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have a right to vote.” Although the municipal has little influence and only half of its members are elected – the other half are appointed – there can be no doubt that this is good news and a step in the right direction. A Saudi activist Khaled Yeslam said: “Women in my country have become human beings.” However, according to a women’s rights advocate Wajeha al-Huwaider Saudi women would only be able to vote and partake in the elections starting in 2015.
Women’s struggle for their rights has drawn increasing media attention of late, particularly as women have helped lead the fight for political changes across Arab nations, including Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen.
There are lessons here for the Middle East as it emerges from the Arab Spring. With some states all but starting from scratch, tackling gender inequality may rank low on the list of priorities. “The vibrancy of these potential democracies will depend on the participation of women,” says Melanne Verveer, ambassador at large for global women’s issues at the U.S. State department. As Goetz says, “Excluding women from postconflict recovery would be like trying to tie your shoes with one hand. ”
Whether the situation will change any soon is a question which only the future may answer. However, quite surprisingly developed countries such as Russia, China, Japan, Italy or Spain have never had a woman as head of the State or Government. On the contrary, many small developed, developing and Third-World countries have been pioneers in the issues, Asian states in particular, giving examples to others – Pratibha Patil, President of India; Sheikh
Hasina Wajed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, or Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand.
Today, the idea of feminism is supported by many feminist magazines (e.g. Ms. Magazine, Bitch, Women in the Art, Women in Higher Education) addressing issues concerned with women’s personal and social lives. They do not undermine popular magazines but they provide an additional and alternative space in which issues such as divorce, marital violence, employment and child rearing could be discussed alongside other concerns. Feminist magazines represent an important intervention in the sphere of media production, allowing many women for the first time to discuss mutual concerns outside the control of popular media determination.
Modern feminism also has its supporters among men. Male feminists represent men who consider themselves feminists; that is, who recognize the patriarchal oppression of gender in our societies and declare themselves active supporters of feminist thought and the feminist movement in the pursuit of equality. Their belief is that sexism, racism and homophobia, in which patriarchy is rooted, are constraining for all people, hence the need for a communal action against those forms a discrimination. Male feminists stress the need for men to take responsibility for their privileged position and to be more aware of the consequences of social inequalities in everyday life.
How the feminism of tomorrow will look like is a question which only time can answer. We can, however, already say that we will talk about and deal with feminisms, not feminism. Different currents have their link in the oppression and discrimination of one regardless sex, age, race or religion. The future development depends also on the attitude of people towards feminism and on the way they understand the movement. However, it is assumed that people from marginalized groups practice feminism more often as from their position of ‘outsiders’ they have different views on the subject of discrimination and they enrich the future feminism more than ‘insiders’.
3 FEMALE POLITICS
Civil life, generally, is adjusted according to legal acts proceeding from general human rights. Their contents are stipulated by the law of every single state and are governed by the country’s character and level of democracy.
Thomas Humprey Marshall, a British sociologist, wrote his seminal essay on citizenship, entitled “Citizenship and Social Class” in which he analysed the development of citizenship as the development of civil, political and social rights. These were broadly assigned to the 18th, 19th and 20th century respectively. His distinctive contribution was to introduce the concept of social rights which are awarded not on the basis of class or need, but on the status of citizenship. From a feminist perspective, the work of Marshall is highly constricted in being focused on men and ignoring the social rights of women and impediments to their implementations.
Citizenship in the past was not applied equally on men and women. Instead of women being given more rights, they were excluded from many public and social activities without any reason. Women as human beings were not defined as legal entities. During the 18th and 19th centuries no significant changes took place as regards to the rights of women. Moreover, in the 19th century women were represented only by their husbands or male relatives.
Although more than half of the population was formed by women, they did not have the right to elect their representative and even at the beginning of the 20th century their rights were denied. Only after a very strong pressure exerted by feminist groups after the First World War, many countries began introducing changes into their acts and codes and women’s entrance into public life was legalized. Countries added new rights to the already existing ones very slowly and reluctantly. Same political rights for everyone meant not only the right to elect but also the right to be elected and participate in the creation and realization of politics. Political rights of women in their beginnings often meant only the right to vote; however, even this one was restricted. For example, British women were entitled to vote only when they were 30.
The history of women as regards to their struggle for suffrage is long and belated almost a century after that of men and we may say that the struggle is still not over.
3.1 First Women in Politics
The first political action of women took place in 1642 when they rebelled and marched into London to petition the House of Lords and Commons. They wanted the law to take into account their status of working individuals and to improve the conditions of the working class. These women continued to protest whenever political decisions discriminated against them or their own class.
Although these early efforts cannot be termed ‘feminist’ in the contemporary sense of the word, yet this women’s collective sentiment of injustice testifies to a feminine consciousness which united them.
It was not until the middle of the 19th century, when the economic realities of life in the New World demanded greater flexibility for women. Because men sometimes could be away from home for months or years at a time, a married woman’s ability to maintain household pivoted upon her freedom to execute contracts. As a result, states began enacting common law principles affecting the property rights of married women. Beginning in 1839 in Mississippi, states began to enact legislation overriding the disabilities associated with coverture. They established the rights of women to enjoy the profits of their labour, to control real and personal property, to be parties to lawsuit and contracts, and to execute wills on their own behalf. Most property rights for women emerged in piecemeal fashion over the course of decades, and, because judges frequently interpreted the statues narrowly, women often had to agitate repeatedly for more expansive and detailed legislation.
According to the Married Women’s Property Act, passed in New York in 1848:
The real and personal property of any female who may hereafter marry, and which she shall own at the time of marriage shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband;
The real and the personal property, and the rent issues and profits thereof of any female now married shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband, but shall be her sole and separate property as if she were a single female;
It shall be lawful for any married female to receive, by gift, grant devices or request, from any person other than her husband and hold on her sole and separate use; All contracts made between persons in contemplation of marriage shall remain in full force after such marriage takes place.
Another change for women came in 1862 with the Homestead Act which demonstrated that the federal government did not make gender one of the criteria for homestead ownership, and this concept was adopted by several western states as well.
Spain and Mexico, civil law countries, influenced the way property laws developed in the western United States. Early community property legislation was enacted in this region. One of the earliest mentions of the distinction between the wife’s separate property and common property is in the California Constitution of 1849, Section 14: “All property, both real and personal, of the wife, owned or claimed by her before marriage, and that acquired afterward by gift, devise, or descent, shall be her separate property; and laws shall be passed more clearly defining the rights of the wife in relations as well to her separate property, as to that held in common with her husband.”
Although states passed legislation naming property as community property, husbands were the ones who managed and disposed of the property. Only if the husband died was the wife allowed to manage the property.
With the rise of women’s political rights, many public speeches were made. One of the first female speakers in the United Stated was Angelina Grimke Weld. Her significance as a public advocate lies in her position as one of the first women to speak in public, in her example of a woman enacting her rights as a moral and political being, and in the philosophy of human rights developed in her writings and speeches.
Grimke was conscious of her status as a role model for women. She realized that what she did would be the most convincing proof of women’s abilities. Her very presence challenged those who denied women’s intellectual capacities and political acumen, as she stood alone on a public platform and lectured in a strong and compelling voice. In her Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States, her vision of a woman as a moral being is irresistible: “Woman is now rising in her womanhood, to throw from her, with one hand the paltry privileges with which man has invested her, of conquering by fashionable charms and winning by personal attractions, whilst with the other she grasps the right of woman to unite in holey copartnership with man, in the renovation of a fallen world. She tramples these glittering baubles in the dust, and takes from the hand of her Creator, the Magna Charta of her high prerogatives as a moral, an intellectual and accountable being.”
The essence of her human rights doctrine was that all, regardless of race or gender, were political, moral and spiritual beings, equal before God and the law.
In 1838 Caroline Norton began a campaign to get the law changed in the custody of children. Sir Thomas Talfourd, an MP for Reading agreed to Caroline’s request to introduce a bill into Parliament which allowed mothers, against whom adultery had not been proved, to have the custody of children under seven, with rights of access to older children. However, the bill was rejected by the House of Lords. In 1839 Talfourd tried again. This time the Law of Custody of Infants was passed in both houses and became the first piece of feminist legislation passed into law. The act gave mothers the right of custody of their children under seven for the first time, but only if the Lord Chancellor agreed to it, and only if the mother was of good character.
Caroline Norton was very active and with her help the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act was passed which allowed divorce through the law courts, instead of the slow and expensive business of a Private Act of Parliament. Under the terms of the act, the husband had only to prove his wife’s adultery, but the wife had to prove her husband had committed not just adultery but also incest, bigamy, cruelty or desertion. Four of the causes were based on her own unhappy experiences as a married woman:
A wife deserted by her husband might be protected if the possession of her earnings form any claim of her husband upon them.
The courts were able to direct payment of separate maintenance to a wife or to her trustee.
A wife was able to inherit and bequeath property like a single woman.
A wife separated from her husband was given the power of contract and suing, and
being sued, in any civil proceeding.
3.2 Conventions, Declarations and Acts 3.2.1 Seneca Falls Convention
The first national women’s rights convention and a pivotal event in the continuing history of women’s rights took place in Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848.
The idea for the convention occurred in London in 1840 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were denied the opportunity to speak from the floor or to be seated as delegates. Mott and Stanton left the hall where the meeting was taking place and began to discuss the fact that while they were trying to secure rights for enslaved African Americans, American women found themselves treated unequally in numerous ways. They concluded that what was needed was a national convention in which women could take steps to secure equal rights with men. Although they agreed that the need for such a convention was a pressing one, they were not to take action on their plan for several years.
The historic meeting took place at the Wesleyan Church chapel in Seneca Falls. Despite the plan to have the first day for women only, a large crowd of both women and men sought entry to the locked chapel. Approximately 100 to 300 people were in attendance, including many men who supported the idea of women’s rights.
On the first day, Stanton presented the organizers’ Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions which was carefully patterned on the Declaration of Independence. The declaration written primarily by Thomas Jefferson stated that all men are created equal. The Seneca Falls declaration held that “all men and women” are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of Sentiments described 18 charges of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman including the denial of the right to vote, unfair laws regarding separation and divorce, and inequality in regard to religion, education, and employment. It stated the hope that the convention in Seneca Falls would be followed by a series of conventions throughout the country. The 12 resolutions called for the repeal of laws that enforced unequal treatment of women, the recognition of women as the equals of men, the granting of the right to vote, the right for women to speak in churches, and the equal participation of women with men in different trades, professions and commerce.
After much discussion and debate, the Declaration of Sentiment and Resolutions was passed largely as written. The biggest obstacle was the resolution that called for women’s rights to vote, known as woman suffrage. Numerous attendees, men and women alike, felt that the right to vote was too radical an idea to gain public acceptance. Mott was open to discarding the resolution, but Stanton held firm with strong support from the prominent African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass. After Douglass stated that suffrage was the power
to choose rulers and make laws and the right by which all others were secured, the woman suffrage resolution passed by a very narrow margin.
Despite the long delay before women were politically enfranchised, the movement that emanated from the Seneca Falls convention made slow but inexorable progress. Some colleges began to admit women as students and more states enacted married women’s property act.
3.2.2 Declarations and Acts
The first international documents dealing with the political rights of women are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved in 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights from 1966. Both documents specify the basic human rights; moreover, they entrench the political rights of women.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists the international standard of basic human rights. Except the first two articles declaring the universality of civil rights (Article 1 – All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Article 2 -Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status…), the Declaration also contains an article dealing primarily with political rights:
Article 21. (1) – Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through free representation.
(2) – Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) – The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government, this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights specified the general human rights in the area of citizenship and public politics. Article 3 explicitly emphasizes of same rights of both sexes: “The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal rights of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant.”
Another very crucial document for the future development of women in politics was the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Convention was the culmination of more than thirty years of work by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, a body established to monitor the situation of women and to promote women’s rights. Its first Article defines very clearly what discrimination against women means: “… shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. ”
Except dealing with the position of women in politics, it ensures them the right to elect and to be elected and to participate in the realization and implementation of politics:
Article 7 – State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the political and public life of the country and, in particular, shall ensure to women, on equal terms with men, the right:
a. To vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies;
b. To participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of governments;
c. To participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country. ”
Article 8 – State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure to women, on equal terms with men and without any discrimination, the opportunity to represent their Governments at the international level and to participate in the work of international organizations.”
The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, the so-called Vienna Declaration was passed emphasizing the universality, indivisibility, dependency and connection between all human rights, including the political ones. The Declaration was completed with the Programme of Actions which clearly stated all the required changes in order to reach the declared rights.
The Conference in Vienna was followed by many other UN conferences dealing with current issues, one of which was the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development which in its Programme of Actions dealt also with the early life of young girls: Since in all societies discrimination on the basis of sex often starts at the earliest stages of life, greater equality for the girl child is a necessary first step in ensuring that women realize their full potential and become equal partners in the development.” The Programme argues that in many countries there is still “son preference” and therefore this awareness is very crucial. The main objectives in order to achieve equality at an early age are:
a. To eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl child and the root causes of son preference, which results in harmful and unethical practices regarding female infanticide and prenatal sex election;
b. To increase public awareness of the value of the girl child, and concurrently, to strengthen the girl child’s self-image, self-esteem and status;
c. To improve the welfare of the girl child, especially with regards to health, nutrition and education.
However, the most important document and action plan as regards to the equality between men and women is the Beijing Declaration from the Fourth World Conference on Women suggesting governments to accept all possible measures in order for women to ensure same access to power and decisive politics. Participants of the conference reaffirmed their commitment to “ensure the full implementation of the human rights of women and of the girl child as an inalienable, integral part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. ” The Action Plan of the Beijing Declaration talks about the participation of women not only in political bodies and public institutions but also in the judiciary and in decision-making processes. The document also mentions political parties, governmental and non-governmental organization, national and international corporations, the media, education institutions and other organizations.
As for the participation on power politics, two strategic objectives were set:
Gl: Take measure to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision making, (actions shall be taken by government, political parties, national bodies, the private sector, research and academic institutions, subregional and regional governmental and international organizations, United Nations and women’s organization).
G2: Increase women’s capacity to participate in decision-making and leadership.
Action Plans approved at the International Conference of the United Nations in Cairo and the Fifth World Conference on Women are the latest documents dealing with the position of women politics.
4 LANGUAGE AND GENDER
At the same time as feminist movements gained momentum in the United States of America, sociolinguistics provided mechanisms for the scientific investigation of language variation on the basis of both socio-economic and gender factors. With respect to a number of sociolinguistic factors including gender, these studies investigated linguistic features such as phonological variability of male and female differences. The goal was not only to determine the stratification of these variables but also to find support for a mechanism of synchronic change. The differential use of these variables was interpreted as constituting a gender pattern.
Much language and gender research in the 1970s and 1980s took difference between women and men as axiomatic and as the starting point for empirical investigations. It was assumed that women and men constituted dichotomous and internally-homogenous groups and the goal of researchers was both to characterize the difference in their linguistic behavior and to explain its occurrence.
As the given dissertation thesis deals with the differences of female and male political speeches, it is important to give at least a short overview of the basic terms and explain the differences between them.
4.1 Language vs. Speech
Language and speech – two connected entities which are often regarded as synonyms, as if both terms meant the same. Although in some cases any of these two terms may be used, the communication context does not allow language users to do so. Language and speech should
be understood as two different terms which are closely related to each other and although influencing each other, differences may be found between them.
Language being a system functioning as the main means of communication is a system of units, rules, models and conventional collective norms which are needed in order to make and prepare speeches and texts which form the internal part of our common and less common everyday communication.
Language is a social institution with its uniqueness based on the fact that it is not grounded on the relation to things. Language signs are of psychic character having their place in the brain; however, their existence is given by social consensus or agreement, i.e. recognition. Language is also a set of customs and conventions which are the results of the development between variants and alternatives. Looking at language from this point of view, it is also a historic phenomenon.
Its practical ‘display’ is speech which forms language and on the contrary, language forces speech to use its systematic elements. As Saussure says (2007) “language is a social fact” which, in the life of individuals, is more important than anything else. Not only does it have its individual side but it also has its social one; these two cannot exist without each other.
During language studies the most interesting and important questions arise in connection with its use. Researchers are more interested in the way it is used rather than what its “components” are. They want to know how it is possible that language users are able to send a message to a person on the other side of communication. Having a closer look at this problem one will realize that the way a text or a dialogue is understood is due to sentences used in communication, whether full or broken.
One might think that the first thing a listener notices about someone while talking is their clothes, voice or eyes. Actually, the very first thing they notice is what sex they are. This is so obvious that people do not even think about it. The division of the human race in male and female is so fundamental that we take it for granted. The fact that the difference is so basic means that it is hardly surprising that it is also reflected and indicated in all human languages. It is a semantic universal which is lexicalized in all the languages of the world in terms of pairs of man-woman or boy-girl, for instance.
Interestingly, however, languages differ considerably in the extent to which sex differences are lexicalized. In some languages, such as Hungarian, Slovak, or French, one has to specify
whether a friend is a male (barát, kamarát, ami) or a female (barätnó, kamarátka, amié). English language does not differentiate sexes in this term – whether male or female, one is always a friend.
Thus, there may be cases in which English differentiates between terms for males and females, for example brother and sister, whereas the Hungarian expression for them would always be testvér. On the other hand, Hungarian differentiates between younger and older brother (bátya – older brother, ôcs – younger brother) and younger or older sister (nóvér -older sister, hug – younger sister).
Sex in languages may also be indicated through the use of articles (masculine, feminine, neuter – for example ten, tá, to in Slovak and Czech, in French only masculine and feminine – le, la) and adjectives (pekný – ‘nice’ for males, pekná – ‘nice’ for females or heureux -Tiappy’ for male, heureuse – Tiappy’ for female).
Another difference in expressing sex is the use of pronouns. English has sex-marking in the third person singular, he, she and it, while Hungarian has only one sex – o. Nevertheless, French differentiates not only the third person singular but also the third person plural – ils ‘they’ for males, elles – ‘they’ for females.
Sex can also be marked via the use of verb forms, as for example prišla som ( I came -female) and prišiel som (I came – male).
The grammatical features that have just been mentioned can have effect on requiring individual speakers to signal not only the sex of people they are talking to but also their own.
In conclusion, in the languages all around the world there seems to be a number of possibilities for how this obligatory grammatical expression of one’s sex may occur:
a. It may not occur at all – as in English or Hungarian (I was / voltam – masculine or feminine?).
b. It may occur through the adjectival gender marking – as in French or Slovak (petit – Tie’ small, petite – ‘she’ small).
c. It may occur through the use of distinctive gender-marked verb forms – as in Slovak (bola som – fern., bol som – mase; bola – fem., bol – mase).
4.2 Gender vs. Sex
Sex is defined as biological femaleness or maleness. Gender is a social construction, or set of ideas and expectations about femininity and masculinity. Gender is expressed via social interactions through a form of interactive performance which sociologist Goffman (2009) calls gender displays. These help define what will occur during a social interaction and how the interaction will be organized. Goffman likens gender displays between women and men to the roles of domination-subordination characterized by the parent-child relationship: the relationship between women and men is unequal, with women positioned as the dependent and subordinate child. For example, a male’s masculine gender displays in interaction with a woman will likely position him as an initiator and leader; the woman then conducts herself in a gender display appropriate to femininity so that she follows the man’s lead.
4.2.1 Gender Stereotypes
Gender is essentially a composite of stereotypes – beliefs, either positive or negative, that people hold about a group and its members. Gender stereotypes are evident in many aspects of life, including personal traits, behaviours, occupations, hobbies, appearance, family functions, communication, sports activities, and preferences for most anything. Gender stereotypes shape people’s behaviours, expectations, and roles; conversely, roles can become stereotypes. Research has found that gender stereotypes in Western society have remained fairly stable, even as roles have been changing. Women are increasingly present in the formal workforce; nevertheless, they are also consistently viewed as caretakers and hold a large proportion of service jobs and support positions. Regardless of their job position, women often take care of the social functions of the job. Men are seen as leaders and are often found in head positions. Many social differences, such as race and sexuality, influence and inform gender stereotypes. These gender stereotypes influence the choices people make about themselves and others. They are so ingrained in society, that to go against gender stereotypes can generate uneasiness, confusion, fear, and hostility.
The current stereotypes of women originated in the 19th -century Victorian era during the Industrial Revolution. At this time, the economy shifted from agriculture to factories; as this economic shift took hold, men left the home for work and women stayed home to care for the household and children. This difference in roles is enough to create or enhance stereotypes.
The disparate activities are often viewed as representing some internal aspect of a person or group of persons. Women are viewed as mothers, providing nurturance and support to others. As women are socialized to be caretakers, they learn that they need to be nice and to put others’ needs before their own. The Judeo-Christian virtues of piety, purity, domesticity, and submissiveness, also fostered the belief that women are most virtuous when vulnerable, dependent, and weak. Apparently in need of protection and guidance, women are stereotyped as childlike, suggesting that they are immature, incompetent, and in need of assistance. Stereotypes such as this encourage people to patronize women and to neglect their intelligence and competence. Women are also stereotyped as sex objects who pay significant attention to their physical appearance. Women who do not adhere to this stereotype may fall into another stereotyped role – that of a manly woman. This iron maiden demonstrated stereotypically male characteristics such as independence, ambition, toughness, competition, career mindedness, and directness. Other social categorizations combine with gender and create specific stereotypes of women.
Men are stereotyped as being rational and strong. Men can be stereotyped in several roles, such as breadwinners, heroic fighters, and “sturdy oaks”. As more women enter the workforce and some fathers stay home to care for the children and household, the stereotype of men as breadwinners may weaken. For now, however, the stereotype remains prevalent, and some people are still uncomfortable with men who do not have a job or an income, even if they provide for their families in other ways. The heroic fighter stereotype suggests that men are active, courageous, brave, strong, forceful, dominant, aggressive, and even violent. This stereotypical image suggests men cannot experience fear or doubt, and that to stay at home and care for family or be nurturing renders a man less than masculine, which can also be detrimental for the ego men of working-class families who must take on more responsibilities in the home while their wives are at work. This also weakens the stereotype and broadens the man’s role. The sturdy oak suggests similar characteristics: a man must be tough and able to hold strong while facing whatever challenges come his way. As sturdy oaks, men will maintain control.
In none of these masculine stereotypes are there any conventionally feminine qualities. People routinely consider those men who exhibit some feminine qualities sissies and gay.
In the 1970s, Sandra Bern challenged the notions of a dichotomous gender system with distinctly masculine men and distinctly feminine women. Bern suggested instead that people
are not necessarily primarily masculine or feminine. Masculinity and femininity may be distinct and simultaneous aspects of a single person rather than poles of a continuum dividing women and men. Bern’s argument allows the possibility that some people are androgynous, demonstrating both masculine and feminine characteristics. The Bern Sex Role Inventory, a 60-item measure, provides a scale through which a person may be classified as masculine, feminine, androgynous, or undifferentiated (low on both masculine and feminine qualities). The Bern Sex Role Inventory levelled a fundamental critique against stereotypical notions that women are essentially feminine and men essentially masculine.
It is also important to note that gender roles are culturally specific. Within the many U.S. cultures there are different views of gender. These views are influenced by factors such as the region of the country, population density, racial makeup, primary industries, and socioeconomic status. The gender stereotypes seem to be more exaggerated in Southern, rural, and agriculturally based areas. Women and men in urban areas have more latitude with what roles are acceptable for them. The metro sexual male and career-oriented women are expanding the gender roles.
Although stereotyping facilitates cognition by helping us more efficiently process information, stereotypes also have negative consequences. At best, stereotypes can accurately represent a group, but they may also obscure non-stereotypical qualities that each person possesses. Regardless of one’s gender identity, each person will likely have some qualities that deviate from their gender’s stereotypes. For example, not all women like pink and not all men watch football.
4.3 Language and Gender
The study of language and gender has increasingly become the study of discourse and gender. While phonological, lexical and other kinds of linguistic analysis continue to be influential, the interdisciplinary investigation of discourse-level phenomena, always a robust area of language and gender scholarship, has become the central approach of the field.
Within linguistic anthropology, gender has been a frequent site of discursive investigation, and gender-based research helped to establish the utility of discourse-centred approaches to anthropology. These approaches have provided an alternative to much previous linguistic
work within anthropology, which emphasized the description of linguistic systems through elicitation of decontextualized words and sentences from native speakers.
To this end, ethnographers of communication often focus on ‘ways of speaking’- discourse genres through which competent cultural members display their cultural knowledge – by considering native speakers’ own systems of discursive classification rather than importing their own academically based analytic categories. They also examine, from native speakers’ point of view, how specific kinds of language use (speech events) are put to use in particular contexts (speech situations).
One of the most influential examples of this paradigm is Elinor Keenan’s account on gender differences in a Malagasy speaking community in Madagascar. Keenan observed that among the Malagasy villagers she studied women were associated with a direct speech style and men with an indirect. Keenan does not explicitly contrast this pattern with the scholarly and popular view, common at the time she did her research, of Western women’s speech as indirect and men’s as direct, but many other scholars called attention to the implications of these findings for language and gender research. However, Keenan’s analysis does not stop with the identification of gender differences. She goes on to point out that each mode of discourse provides a distinct form of power. Malagasy women’s direct style of discourse allows them to engage in politically and economically powerful activities, such as confrontation, bargaining, and gossip, whereas men participate less often or not at all. But this is not a simple distribution of discursive labour. Malagasy language ideologies privilege indirect language as skilled and artful, the style most suited for public oratory, while devaluing direct language as unsophisticated and as indicative of Malagasy cultural decline. The finding that women’s ways of speaking are less valued than men’s is echoed in other studies in the ethnography of communication paradigm. In addition, many studies support Keenan’s observation that men’s discourse genres tend to be more public and women’s tend to be more domestic.
Joel Sherzer notes that among the Kuna, an indigenous group in Panama, women’s discursive forms are sometimes different from men’s, sometimes the same; sometimes superior or equal, sometimes inferior, sometimes public and sometimes private. Where many ethnographies of communication address gender primarily from the standpoint of differences between women and men, another approach focuses primarily on discourse genres used by women and girls without extensive comparison to men’s and boys’ discursive practices. Much of this work
focuses on African American women’s discourse, redressing the overwhelming scholarly emphasis on male discourse form among African Americans.
Generalization may be made not about how ‘women’ speak, but about how women of a particular culture speak; variation between women within a given cultural context is rarely discussed. In addition, the ethnography of communication has historically had a tendency to focus on more public, ritualized, and performance oriented speech events – precisely those types of discourse that in most cultures have fewer female participants. Women’s ways of speaking may therefore be considered, by native speakers and the analysts alike, as less culturally significant than those available to men.
The ethnography of communication has been largely devoted to the description and analysis of relatively discrete and culturally salient discourse forms: speech acts, events, and genres that are recognized and often labelled by members of the culture. Yet much of social life takes place in ordinary conversation, and many cultures do not necessarily name or consciously recognize discourse practices that take place in the sphere of the everyday. The ethnography of communication also focuses mainly on discourse internal to a single culture rather than on how the same discursive form may be understood by members of different cultural backgrounds.
In these anthropological versions of discourse analysis, discourse is understood in terms of culture, especially in terms of cultural variation and specificity. Discourse is instead linked to society and to how discourse structures society. The central principle of this approach arose from Garfinkel’s (1967) ethnomethodology which views the social world as organized through everyday interaction. Gender played an important role in the development of ethnomethodological ideas, in part due to Garfinkel’s study of Agnes, a biological male who identified as female. Agnes’s successful display of herself as woman was accomplished through the management of routine activities related to gender. The insight that social identities such as gender are achievements or accomplishments, that gender is something that people “do” rather than simply have, is one that has had a powerful impact on language and gender research, as well as on gender studies more generally.
4.3.1 First Research and Findings
In 1553 the grammarian Wilson ruled that the man should precede the woman in pairs such as male/female, husband/wife, or brother/sister. Juan Luis Vives in her ‘The Education of a Christian Woman’ has observations on what was appropriate language for the time. What is interesting about these early Tiandbooks’ is the specific reference to women – there are no corresponding publications where men are the audience for a book on improving their linguistic behaviour, indeed it is men who usually do the suggesting.
In 1646 Joshua Poole, another grammarian, said that the male should precede the female. This was both more ‘natural’, and more ‘proper’ as men were the ‘worthier’ sex.
For John Kirkby (in Moore, 2002) male sex was ‘more comprehensive’ than the female. Nineteenth century grammarians reinforced the resulting idea of male superiority by condemning the use of the neutral pronoun ‘they’ and ‘their’ in such statements as, “Anyone can come if they want”. Their argument was an insistence on agreement of number – that ‘anyone’ and ‘everyone’, being singular, could not properly correspond to plural pronouns.
In 1922, Otto Jespersen published a book containing a chapter on ‘women’s language – The Woman. The book describes the differences and compares women’s and men’s speech and voice pitch. Women’s vocabulary is less extensive than men’s and he claims that the periphery of language and the development of new words are only for men’s speech. Jespersen explains these differences by the early division of labour between the two sexes. In his conclusion the social changes taking place at the time can actually modify even the linguistic relations of sexes.
The first specific piece of writing on gender differences in language was published in 1944. It was P.H.Furfey’s Men’s and Women’s Language in The Catholic Sociological Review.
These quantitative studies on the relationship between gender and variable language use are contrasted with qualitative (interpretative) approaches. As women were assumed to be oppressed in similar ways by men and by a patriarchal social system, research drew attention to the way in which women’s use of language exhibited powerlessness. The Second Wave Feminist Linguistics was born.
4.3.2 Second Wave Feminist Linguistics
The linguistic work which stemmed from Second Wave Feminism focused on the stereotypical speech of these same women and made generalisations about all women’s language on the basis of anecdotal evidence. Lakoff (1975) and Spender (1980) characterised women’s speech as hesitant, deferent and polite and suggested that elements such as tag questions and back channel behaviour were more likely to be found in the speech of women than in men, and that men interrupted women more than vice versa.
Lakoff (ibid.) claimed that the differential use of language needed to be explained in large part on the basis of women’s subordinate social status and the resulting social insecurity. She observed that women’s use of colour terms, adjectives, frequent use of tag questions and weak expletives differed radically from male use. As one explanation for this deficiency she pointed to the differences in the socialization of men and women.
In 1975 she published an influential account of women’s language – Language and Women’s Place – followed by a related article, Woman’s language, in which she published a set of basic assumptions about what marks the language of women.
According to her studies women:
a. Use hedges – phrases like sort of, it seems like
b. Use (super)polite forms – would you mind…, … if you don’t mind
c. Use tag questions – You ‘re going to dinner, or en ‘tyou?
d. Speak in ‘Italics’ – intonational emphasis
e. Use empty adjectives – This was such a lovely day.
f. Use hypercorrect grammar and pronunciation
g. Use direct quotation (whereas men paraphrase more often)
h. Have a special lexicon – so-called ‘colourful language’
i. Use question intonation in declarative statements – women make declarative statements into questions by raising the pitch of their voice at the end of a statement, which expresses uncertainty.
j. Use ‘wh-‘ imperatives – Why don ‘tyou open the door?
k. Overuse qualifiers
1. Apologise more
m. Use modal constructions
n. Avoid coarse language or expletives
Use indirect commands and requests Use more intensifiers
Lack a sense of humour and interrupt more
Although her study has been influential, it has also been constrained by some of the sexist assumptions of the linguistic paradigm in which she worked. She accepts that men’s language is superior and she assumes that this is a feature of their linguistic performance and not of their sex. She also compares women to a male standard. She takes male language as the norm and measures women against it, and one outcome of this procedure is to classify any difference on the part of women as ‘deviation’.
Deborah Tannen coined the term genderlect which deals with different communication patterns of men and women. Moreover, she talks about genderlect styles in which she characterizes the communication rules of gender speech communities – feminine language use and masculine language use.
Language described as “feminine” frequently involves the use of words to relate to others. For many feminine speakers, words are the building blocks of relationships and can support, explain, and enhance understanding of the people conversing and the nature of their relationship. This frequently involves validation or the demonstration through words that experiences are similar and that people are not alone in their hardships. On some level, this also demonstrates equality that it is not common in masculine style. Feminine style tends to reject hierarchy, and those employing a feminine style are usually open to hearing about different cultures and experiences.
Feminine language is often labelled as inquisitive. While this plays into stereotypes of women being “busybodies”, it also reflects that those employing the feminine style are concerned about how others are doing. Questions such as “How was your day at work?” or “How does that make you feel?” get to the heart of what the conversational partner is thinking or feeling and this opens the conversation to heightened self-disclosure. In listening to the answers to these questions, feminine speakers often follow up with verbal clues, such as “That’s really interesting” or “So how did that go?” to indicate they want the other person to continue telling her or his story.
While tentativeness is another trait of feminine language, it is one that is slowly becoming part of masculine speech as well. Tentative language often introduces ideas with disclaimers
such as “I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, but…” or “I might be wrong, but it seems to me that…” While this concept remains a feminine one in interpersonal relationship talk, it is beginning to be replaced (both for feminine and masculine speakers) by language expressing relativity as opposed to tentative observations. Instead of tentative disclaimers, people in workplace settings or in public arenas, whether male or female, have begun to use phrases such as “In many cases…” or “Many people tell me…” that use some of the open features of tentative language but also allows for more assertiveness to come through with the statement.
The feminine style of keeping open lines of understanding is highly related to the personal nature of feminine language. Those engaging a feminine style are overall more likely to disclose personal information, especially details that a masculine speaking style is unlikely to employ. For example, instead of saying, “Work was bad today. Connie didn’t show up,” a feminine speaker will more likely say, “Work was bad today. Connie showed up 15 minutes late. I’m so frustrated with her! And Doug didn’t know how to cover the phones, which is what Connie was supposed to be doing. So I had to run like crazy back and forth between training Barbara and helping Doug get the phone calls routed. The whole thing had me feeling overworked and underpaid!” The feminine speaker would also like to offer more details as they were solicited from conversational partners. So, as the conversation about what happened at work progresses, elements of the story will likely be revisited and elaborated upon.
This open and descriptive style makes it easier for feminine speakers to engage their emotions, and so the feminine style of language may be nonverbally enhanced by laughter, tears, or other displays of nonverbal emotion. Despite the openly emotional nature of feminine language, it is important to consider that the feminine style, while rooted in language used by females, is frequently used by males, too.
Jennifer Coates calls women’s oral culture ‘Gossip’ and categorizes them in terms of House Talk, Scandal, Bitching and Chatting:
1. House Talk – its distinguishing function is the exchange of information and resources connected with the female role as an occupation.
2. Scandal – a considered judging of the behaviour of others, and women in particular. It is usually made in terms of the domestic morality, of which women have been appointed guardians.
3. Bitching – this is the overt expression of women’s anger at their restricted role and inferior status. They express this in private and to other women only. The women who bitch are not expecting change; they want only to make their complaints in an environment where their anger will be understood and expected.
4. Chatting – this is the most intimate form of gossip, a mutual self-disclosure, a transaction where women use to their own advantage the skills they have learned as part of their job of nurturing others.
Masculine language, while still carrying a relational aspect, usually reflects elements of autonomy and control. This is reflected largely in the direct nature of masculine language. Instead of prefacing advice with suggestive remarks such as “Would you like to hear some possible solutions to your problem?” or “If I might offer some advice,” masculine language tends to gravitate toward statements such as “Well, that is an easy problem to fix, just…” or “I know how to take care of this.” Males are especially expected to employ these types of language patterns when addressing females, as men are often expected to enact control in situations as well as maintain an air of confidence and knowledge.
Masculine language allows less leverage for the discussion of emotions. Emotions expressed through masculine language are expected to be communicated through a limited amount of words, often ones that many would view as harsh and direct. To this end, masculine language is actually more abstract than feminine language. While this may seem counterintuitive given that masculine language styles dictate a public persona of wisdom and knowledge and thus a large and precise vocabulary would be expected to be put into play, masculine language depends on how words are said rather than the nature of the words themselves. Anger may accompany the masculine style of communication, but few other emotions are tolerated, especially emotions concerning sadness, weakness, or insecurities.
Masculine language is often direct. Instead of entering a combative conversation with “I feel as if there is something we should discuss,” the masculine style often finds the speaker entering the conflict with a more direct statement, such as “Why did you tell the boss I skipped out on the dinner?” Masculine language generally makes bold assertions and often does not allow for contextualizing or relativity. This is one reason why masculine language is viewed as being economical. Many words used in a masculine language style seek to demand or command, as opposed to request or negotiate. While this allows for greater utility, since language serves as action, the economical nature of statements – using relatively few words,
with little description – makes it easier for miscommunication to occur in terms of what is being requested.
4.3.3 Third Wave Feminist Linguistics
Third Wave Feminist Linguistics does not assume that women are a homogeneous grouping and in fact stresses the diversity of women’s speech. For example, Eckert (2003) analyses the differences between the language use of different groups of girls in a high school in America, drawing on the categories and groupings they themselves use, such as “jocks’ and “burnouts’. Bucholtz (1996) and Henley (1995) claim the speech of Black American women’s does not correspond with the type of speech patterns introduced by Lakoff and Spender, since there are different linguistic resources available, signalling potentially different affiliations. The essays found in the collections edited by Bergvall et al. (1996) and Coates and Cameron (1988) stress the way in which women’s language differs according to context and factors such as class, ethnic and regional affiliation. Even the notion of the status of the variable itself has been questioned; for example, Mary Bucholtz has argued that in the Second Wave Feminism “locally defined groupings based on on-going activities and concerns were rarely given scholarly attention; if they were, members were assigned to large scale categories of gender, race and ethnicity and class” (Bucholtz, 1999).
In the Third Wave Feminism Linguistics these large scale categories are questioned so that rather than gender being seen as a stable unified variable, to be considered in addition to race or class, gender is now considered as a variable constrained and constituted by them and in turn defining them in the context of local conditions.
Indeed, feminist linguistics seems to have turned away from these more established identity categories to an analysis which focuses on a whole set of identity features (being a manager, someone’s mother, a sensible person) which might be potentially relevant (Swann, 2002) Moreover, identities are seen as plural and potentially conflicting even within a specific individual in a particular interaction. Third Wave Feminist Linguistics does not make global statements about women’s language but focuses on a more punctual analysis – that is one which can analyze the way one’s gendered identity varies from context to context. However, Swann has argued that this contextual focus in relation to variables has almost invalidated the notion of the variable; she says “if gender identity is something that is done in context, this
begs the question of how an analyst is able to interpret any utterance in terms of masculinity (or working class, white, heterosexual masculinity). How does an analyst assess whether a speaker is doing gender, or another aspect of identity?” (Swann, 2002) What Swann goes on to argue is that rather than seeing Third Wave (or as she terms it Postmodern) Feminism as a simple reaction to Second Wave Feminist Linguistics, we need to see the way in which Third Wave Feminism depends on early feminism; the contextualized studies are interesting “partly because they qualify, or complexify, or introduce counter-examples” (ibid.. Thus, the localized studies should be seen against the background of the earlier global (and problematized) claims of Second Wave Feminism, which they can perhaps help to modify and temper.
Third Wave Feminist Linguistics draws the attention mainly on the work of Judith Butler (1990, 1993) and her notion of performativity. Gender within this type of analysis is viewed as a verb, something which one does in interaction and not something one possesses (Crawford, 1995). Gender is constructed through the repetition of gendered acts and varies according to the context. In many readings of Butler’s work, gender is seen almost like a set of clothes that one puts on – the individual chooses what sort of identity they would like to have and simply performs that role. However, it is clear that institutional and contextual constraints determine the type and form of identity and linguistic routines which an individual considers possible within an interaction. Whilst Second Wave Feminist Linguistics assumed that gender pre-existed the interaction and affected the way that the interaction developed, Third Wave feminists focus on the way that participants in conversation bring about their gendered identity, thus seeing gendering as a process.
This focus on the orienting of participants to gender is clearly influenced by heated debates between Conversation Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis about whether extra-textual factors such as gender and race can be considered if they are not specifically addressed by participants (Wodak and Meyer, 2001) However, it could be argued this more process-oriented feminism still has a very clear notion of what gender is, bringing that pre-constructed notion to their analyses of the way that participants orient to gender within interactions (Swann, 2002).
Second Wave feminists assumed that all women were more deferent, polite, more concerned with the welfare of others and more co-operative. Third Wave Feminist Linguistics suggests that this type of speech style is perhaps only available to a very small number of white middle
class women; moreover, only within very specific contexts. Coates (1998) calls for a re-evaluation of co-operative speech styles and question whether they necessarily denote powerlessness. Both argue that concern for others in speech should be valued and Homes in particular claims that women’s greater use of positive politeness within the work environment leads to more productive discussions.
As not all women are powerless, speeches of those speaking assertively may be considered aggressive because they are judged against a stereotypical norm of deference. This is why many women, according to Crawford (1995), prefer to temper their speech by using politeness strategically: “unassertive” speech, rather than being a (female) deficiency in social skills. Tentative and indirect speech may be a pragmatic choice for women as it is more persuasive; at least when the recipient is male.
Feminist linguists argue that women engage in a complex process whereby they assess others’ stereotypical beliefs about gender and then strategically adopt strategies which will be most likely to achieve their ends. Because of the change in relation to power, there has been a move away from the analysis of subordinated women. Bucholtz (1999) says that in the past “much of the scholarship in language and gender has been what might be called ‘good-girl research’- studies of ‘good'(that is normatively female – white straight middle class) women being ‘good'(that is normatively feminine). ” Now rather than analysing women’s indirectness or lack of assertiveness, many linguists focus on strong women speakers and women’s resistance to masculine forms of speech.
A later study done by Eckert and McConneli-Ginet (2003) showed the language of women is ‘more masculine’ as there are only several of the features of female’s language deviation -tag questions, rising intonation on declaratives, the use of various kinds of hedges, boosters and amplifiers, diminutives, euphemisms and conventional politeness (especially forms that mark respect for the addressee).
4.3.4 Tag Questions, Interruptions and Pronunciation
Dubois and Crouch (in Kunsmann, 2000) studied the use of tag questions in men. Since the results showed that men were more frequent users of tag questions than women, the full results were not published and the research was deemed to be a failure. However, it is at this point that some of the distortions in the research process have become even more interesting.
First, it is possible that it is not clear how frequently women were tested for tag questions and found wanting, for it is possible that to some researchers such results might have been considered unhelpful, the study deemed to be a failure and the findings were not reported.
Second, there is a distinct possibility of a double-standard at work here and that a tag question is being defined as the female use of a particular form; when men use the same form it is called something else.
However, recent evaluative reaction studies also support the position of men using more tag questions. Bock (1996) conducted a poll of 122 American college students who were asked whether women used more tag questions than men. Less than 41% agreed with this statement, 17.2% disagreed and 41% were undecided.
Further analyses reveal additional properties of tag questions. In addition to expressing certainty, insecurity and the wish to be accepted, tag questions also function as expressions of politeness. Moreover, they may facilitate communication.
For the different function of tag questions, Holmes (1992) reported the following results: Table 1: Function of tag questions according to Holmes
Function of tag Women % Men % Example
Expressing 35 61 I graduated last year, didn’t 11
Facilitative 59 26 See its tail, look at its tail. It’s a fantail, isn’t it?
Softening 6 13 That was a bit of a daft thing to do, wasn’t it?
Confrontational A: … you 11 probably find yourself um before the Chief Constable, okay? B: Yes, Sir, yes, understood. A: Now you er fully understand that, don’t you? B: Yes, Sir, indeed, yeah.
Total 100 100
A different division of the function of tag questions, originally proposed by Holmes in 1984, is the basis for a study by Coates and Cameron (1989). They define an affective function for tags which are directed toward the addressee and signal solidarity, e.g. His portraits are quite static by comparison, aren’t theyl, and a modal function which is speaker oriented and indicates a request for information or a confirmation of the information. According to their study of a 45,000-word corpus of the ‘Survey of English’ at University College in London, women use more affective-facilitative tags whereas men use more modal ones. In contrast to Holmes no softening tags were found.
Table 2: Function of tag questions according to Coates/Cameron
Function of tag Women % Men % Example
Modal 25 40 You were missing last week, weren’t you?
Affective (facilitative) 75 60 His portraits are quite static by comparison, aren’t theyl
Total 100 100
As Coates once said of tag questions: “… it is not just the presence of minimal responses at the end, but also their absence during the course of an anecdote or summary, which demonstrates the sensitivity of participants to the norms of interaction: speakers recognise different types of talk and use minimal responses appropriately. Lexical items such as ‘perhaps, I think, sort of, probably’ as well as certain prosodic and paralinguistic features, are used in English to express epistemic modality … women use them to mitigate the force of an utterance in order to respect addressees’ face need.”
A very similar case is with interruptions. A joke has it that a woman sues her husband for divorce. When the judge asks her why she wants a divorce, she explains that her husband has not spoken to her in two years. The judge then asks the husband why he has not spoken to his wife in the last two years and he replies: “I didn’t want to interrupt her.”
This joke reflects the commonly held stereotype that women talk too much and interrupt men. On the other hand, one of the most widely cited findings to emerge from research on gender and language is that men interrupt women far more than women interrupt men.
Most widely cited for the finding that men interrupt women is the work of Candace West and Don Zimmerman, Bohn and Stutman, Eakins and Eakins, Esposito, Gleason and Grief, and McMillan, Clifton, McGrath and Gale.
Zimmerman and West (1975) recorded naturally occurring casual conversations in campus locations. They report that 96% of the interruptions they found (46 out of 48) were instances of men interrupting women. Following up with an experimentally designed study in which previously unacquainted first- and second- year undergraduates talked in cross-sex dyads, West and Zimmerman report a similar, though not as overwhelming, pattern: 75% of interruptions were instances of men interrupting women.
Eakins and Eakins (in Tannen, 1996) found that “men generally averaged a greater number of active interruptions per meeting than women, with eight being the highest average and two the lowest. For women the range was from two to zero.”
Some of the research findings were carried out with children rather than adults. Esposito (in Eckert, McConnell-Ginnet, 2000) randomly assigned 40 preschool children to play groups and found that boys interrupted girls two to one. Examining the speech of 16 mothers and 16 fathers, Gleason and Grief (ibid.) found that fathers interrupt their children more than mothers, and that both interrupt female children more than male children.
Zimmerman and West (1975) call interruptions “a device for exercising power and control in conversation” and “violations of speakers’ turn at talk” In their opinion any interruption serves as a violation of the turn exchange system and an overlap as a misfire in it. If a second speaker begins speaking at what could be a transition-relevance place, it is counted as an overlap. The assumption is that the speaker mistook the potential transition-relevance place for an actual one. If a second speaker begins speaking of what could not be a transition-relevance place, it is counted as an interruption: the second speaker had evidence that the other speaker did not intend to relinquish a turn, but took the floor anyway, consequently trampling on the first speaker’s right to continue speaking.
Esposito (ibid.) considered that “interruptions occur when speaker A cuts off more than one word of speaker B’s unit-type.” Leffler, Gillespie and Conaty (1982) say that interruptions are “all vocalizations where, while one subject was speaking, the other subject uttered at least two consecutive identifiable words or at least three syllables of a single word.”
One of West’s and Zimmerman’s examples of interruption is a case of an overlap that seems justified in terms of interactional rights:
Female: So, uh, you really can’t bitch when you’ve got all those on the same day but I, uh, asked my physics professor if I couldn’t chanfge that] Male: [Don ‘tj touch that
Male: I’ve got everything jus’how I want it in that notebook you’ll screw it up leafin’ through it like that.
This interruption is procedural rather than substantive. Many would argue that if the male feels that the female’s handling of his notebook is destroying his organization of it, he has a right to ask her to desist immediately, without allowing further damage to be done while he awaits a transition-relevance place.
Stephen Murray criticizes the arguments given by Zimmerman and West. He argues that there can be no “absolute syntactical or acoustical criteria for recognizing an occurrence of interruption” because a speaker’s “completion rights” depends on a number of factors, including length or frequency of speech, number of points made, and special authority to speak on particular topics. He also observes that whether or not a speaker feels interrupted is not absolute but varying by degree.
According to sociolinguistic research, conversation is a joint production – everything that happens is the doing of all participants. For an interruption to occur, two speakers must act: one must begin speaking, and another must stop. If the first speaker does not stop, there is no interruption. This is what Deborah Tannen (1996) calls overlap of which many instances are supportive rather than obstructive.
Greenwood (in ibid.) found that a high rate of interruption was a sign of social comfort in conversations among preadolescent boys and girls having dinner with their friends – the more comfortable the children reported feeling with their age-mate dinner guests, the more
interruptions Greenwood observed in the transcript of their conversation. Falk (1980) calls this “a conversational duet”.
Tannen calls simultaneous speech as “cooperative overlapping” – supportive rather than obstructive, evidence not of domination but of participation, not power, but the paradoxically related dimension, solidarity. When the conversation was ‘enriched’ with ‘high involvement’ (interaction of different turn-taking systems), it was not disrupted. Rather, the fast pacing and overlapping served to grease the conversational wheels.
With respect to a number of sociolinguistic factors including gender, studies dealing with linguistic features also investigated phonological variability of male and female differences. Women were found to be closer to a prestige norm, i.e. Received Pronunciation, than men. As Martin (1954) says: “Women, it seems, are considerably more disposed than men to upgrade themselves into the middle-class and less likely to allocate themselves to the working-class – a finding which confirms the common observation that status consciousness is more pronounced among women.”
In London English, for example, men are more likely than women to use glottal stops in words like butter and but. This phenomenon is not confined only to British and American English. In South Africa a research has been carried out in the Transvaal, comparing the speech of English-speaking male and female high-school pupils of the same age in the same town. A study was made of the pronunciation of four vowels:
1. The vowel of gate, which in South Africa ranges from high-prestige RP [geit] to low-prestige South African [g3t], with a lower and more central first element to the diphthong, as in RP bird.
2. The vowel of can’t, which ranges from RP [ka:nt], to South African [ko:nt], with a vowel close in quality to that found in RP on – a low back rounded vowel.
3. The vowel of out, which ranges from RP [aut] to South African [aeut], with a higher front first element resembling the vowel in RP cat.
4. The vowel in boy, which ranges from RP [boi] to a variant with a high back rounded first element [bui] as in RP school.
Table 3: Results showing the percentage of boys and girls using each variant in each case
Gate [geit] [g3t] Boys 0 100
Girls 62 38
Can’t [ka:nt] [ko:nt] Boys 0 100
Girls 62 38
Out [aut] [aut] [aeut] Boys 25 17 58
Girls 85 15 0
Boy [boi] [boi] [boi] [bui] Boys 0 16 42 42
Girls 15 38 47 0
The boys, as seen from the results, are much more likely than the girls to use nonstandard local pronunciations.
In different parts of the English-speaking world, female speakers have been found to use forms considered to be better or more correct than those used by men. This finding has also subsequently been replicated for large numbers of other languages in Europe and elsewhere.
Gender differentiation of this type is the single most consistent finding to emerge from sociolinguistic work around the world in the past thirty years. We do not know exactly why, but sociolinguists have come up with a number of different speculative suggestions.
Firstly, it has been pointed out that working-class speech, like certain other aspects of working-class culture in our society, seems to have connotations of or associations with masculinity, which may lead men to be more favourably disposed to nonstandard linguistic forms than women. This, in turn, may be because working-class speech is associated with the toughness traditionally supposed to be characteristic of working-class life – and toughness is quite widely considered to be a desirable masculine characteristic.
Secondly, it has also been pointed out that many societies seem to expect a higher level of adherence to social norms – better behaviour – from women that they do from men. If a
father comes home drunk and vomits over the carpet, this is bad. But if a mother does the same, many people would feel it is worse. A woman interviewed in a Norwegian dialect survey said, when asked why she used the prestige pronunciation [3g] egg’ while her brothers said [aeg]: “It isn’t done for a woman to say [ceg].” Elizabeth Gordon (in Trudgill 2000), a New Zealand sociolinguist, has pointed out that women may have a tendency to speak in a more prestigious way so as not be thought sexually promiscuous.
4.3.5 Sexism in Language
As women were and in some way still are obliged to use male language, it has given rise to linguistic prejudice or discrimination based on sex and gender, sexism. Its origin is unclear, but it was first found in the Merriam Webster Dictionary in 1968, and is most likely modelled after the civil rights movement’s term racism, which refers to prejudice or discrimination based on race. Having emerged from second-wave feminism that occurred in the 1960s and 1980s, sexism has a parallel function to racism, which describes ideological and material practices of individuals, collectives, and institutions that maintain white supremacy. Sexism is an ideology or practice that maintains patriarchy or male domination. This mode of oppression in society usually takes the forms of economic exploitation and social domination based on sex and gender. Often, it is conceived as behaviours, conditions, or attitudes that perpetuate stereotypes of social (gender) roles based on one’s biological sex. Sexism can be a belief that one sex is superior to or more valuable than another sex. It imposes limits on what men and boys can and should do and what women and girls can and should do. Sometimes, sexism is also used to refer to hatred of females and hatred of males. The ideology of sexism views intersexual and transgender people as abnormal for not following the traditional path of the binary sex-gender system, where there exist only two biological sexes – male or female -and whereby biological male subjects will acquire appropriate gender roles to become straight women.
One of the basic principles of feminism is that society has been constructed with a bias which favours males; one of the basic principles of feminists who are concerned with language is that this bias can be located in the language. Schneider and Floss (in Spender, 1980) claim that English is biased in favour of men not only in syntax but also in semantics.
This bias has most frequently been referred to as sexism in language but other terms have also been used. Bodine (1975) uses the term androcentric in her effort to expose the male bias in the formulation of some of the rules of the prescriptive grammarians. Joan Roberts (1976) uses the term masculist to label the male bias in language and culture. Various definitions have been put forward and one criterion which has been used is that English is “sexist in so far as it relegates women to a secondary and inferior place in society” (Lambert, 2012).
A great deal has been written about sexist terms that men and women use to refer to each other. Women have noted that there have been few parallel male words to the pejorative terms for women. Violent terms are often used in describing women and more rarely to describe men. The terms we use to refer to people in our writing have also come under much scrutiny as we try to make our language less sexist in nature.
Nilsen (in Hatch and Brown, 1995) talks about several sexist areas of the English lexicon. Eponyms, words derived from names of people, are almost all male names. The few exceptions are those that refer to the body or to clothes. Male and female terms reflect sexist attitudes, e.g. bachelor vs. maid. Unless they are rebels of crusaders, women are often referred to in terms of their relation to men, e.g. Mrs. John Brown, sister of.
Stenley (1977) pointed out that there were more positive words for men than for women. Moreover, she found that many of the words for women had sexual overtones and despite the fact that there were more words for men, of the smaller sample assigned to women there were 220 words for a sexually promiscuous female and only 20 for a sexually promiscuous male. This would seem to indicate that the language as a system embodies sexual inequality and that it is not women who enjoy the advantage.
Schulz (1975) took one of the first steps in relating sexism in language to society when she incorporated both descriptive and analytical frames of relevance in her investigation and suggested that there was a systematic basis to linguistic sexism. According to her, it was not a coincidence that there were more positive words for men than for women, nor was it an accident that there were so many negative words for females with no semantic equivalent for males. These manifestations were rule governed and the rule is that words which are marked for females and used in association with females become pejorated. For words which are
marked female are marked negative, Schulz referred to the systematic, semantic derogation of women.
Few tries have been done to link examples of sexism with the rule of men. Miller and Swift (in Norri, 2008) observed that once a boy’s name became popular as a girl’s name, it lost its appeal and usually ceased being used for boys. Names as Shirley, Leslie, Beverly all began as boys’ names and were positive, later on they were used as girls’ names and became negative. Today, these names are rarely used for boys. Miller and Swift argue that “once a name or a word becomes associated with women, it is rarely again considered suitable for males”. Furthermore, they also observed there was no reciprocity: the process does not operate in reverse.
The word for women assumed negative connotations even where it designated the same state or condition as it did for men. As Jackson and Stockwell (in Odlin, 1994) say: “A master is in control, but a mistress is kept for sex. Compare old master and old mistress. A bachelor is an approving term, but a spinster is a sad thing to be. Compare bachelor pad and spinster pad. A patron is a business client, but a matron is an old nurse. If a man has a client, he is a businessman; if a woman has a client, she is a prostitute. If a man is a pro, he is competent; if a woman is a pro, she is a prostitute. If a man is a tramp, he is a homeless scruff; if a woman, a prostitute.”
Schulz (in Cameron, 1995) makes use of many comparable terms to illustrate the working of these semantic rules. She investigates the use of title and shows that while male titles have retained their original positive meanings, female titles have frequently undergone a dramatic ‘downhill slide’, ending more often than not with sexually debased meanings. Although Lord preserves its initial meaning, Lady has undergone a process of ‘democratic levelling’ and is no longer reserved for women of high rank. Baronet also functions in its original sense whereas its equivalent, Dame, has come to be used derogatively (both cases particularly in American usage). There has been some pejoration of governor – in cockney usage for example – but it still serves in its original meaning whereas governess has come to be used almost exclusively in the context of young children and not in the context that Queen Elizabeth I used it to denote her own power and sovereignty. Sir is still used as a title – and as a form of respect – and, unlike Madam, does not refer to someone who keeps a brothel.
In some languages, the choice of terms differs much more according to the gender of the speaker. For example, men are expected to learn to use different forms of words once they reach puberty.
Haviland (1979) writes about lexical choices when talking to the parents and brothers of one’s wife in Yimidhir. Guugu Yimidhirr is the language of Cooktown, North Queensland. Nowadays, most speakers of the language live in Hopevale Mission, fifty kilometres north of Cooktown, where people with a variety of ancestral languages now use Yimidhirr and English as joint means of communications at the Mission. Older people distinguish more than forty named tribal areas whose inhabitants spoke some form of Yimidhirr. They divide the various locales into two rough dialects, Coastal and Inland, characterized by a few minor syntactic differences and a significant number of different lexical items for common words. For example the words such as barradhal or uhalngar both refer to brother-in-law and father-in-law. However, talking about women is forbidden: “Certain of an individual’s relatives are strictly taboo … so much that he must neither approach, converse with, accept from, nor give them anything. This especially refers to the father-in-law and mother-in-law … It is the usual practice for a man never to talk to his blood-sister, or sometimes not even mention her name, after she has once reached womanhood.” Within single dialects there are the so-called mother-in-law or brother-in-law languages displaying deference to certain classificatory kinsmen, or marking intimacy with others.
To state that English is a man’s language is frequently to arouse the indignation of some people who feel secure in stating the obvious; that is, because women use the language it cannot therefore be the property of males. But it is feasible to suggest that women have been obliged to use a language which is not of their own making.
220.127.116.11 Indirect Sexism and Its Elimination
Whilst Second Wave Feminism saw sexism as a clearly defined set of practices which reflected a particular set of attitudes towards women, in fact, now sexism has a range of meanings for different people. This makes sexism much more difficult to context. Now it seems that sexism in English is largely “indirect sexism”, that is, sexism which manifests itself at the level of presupposition, and also through innuendo, irony and humour, or which is prefaced by disclaimers or hesitation (Mills in Abbas, 2010).
In the British television programme Men Behaving Badly, the two central male characters use the term vtop totty’ to refer to women. This is such an exaggerated form of sexism that within the terms of the programme it cannot be objected to as sexist as it is intended to be humorous and tongue-in-cheek. Sexism at the level of presupposition is also much more difficult to challenge as Christine Christie has demonstrated, since it is necessary to make overt the assumptions upon which the sexism is based; the reason this indirectness is in fact chosen is to mask the sexism and to give the speaker the potential for denying any intended sexism (ibid.).
Whelehan has described the difficulty for feminists of watching television programmes such as Men Behaving Badly and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, or listening to radio programmes such as Radio l’s Chris Moyles, where overtly sexist statements are made about women, but because these statements are made in a very knowing ironic way, it is to be assumed by viewers that they are not taken to be as sexist, or at least not in any simple way (Whelehan, 1995).
For many feminist viewers, not wishing to be seen as puritanical and lacking a sense of humour, there is little possibility of contesting these ways of presenting sexist ideas, even though sexism is still kept in play by these means. To give another example of the instability within sexism at the moment, we might consider the television advertisements for Yorkie chocolate bars. The advertisements, following on from the association of Yorkie bars with truck-drivers, claim that Yorkies are vNot for Girls’; a woman disguised as a male builder with a hard hat and false moustache goes into a sweet shop and tries to buy a Yorkie bar. The shopkeeper tries to test whether she is a man or not by asking her to define the off-side rule in football, to decide whether stockings or tights are better, and finally, he manages to show that she is female because she responds to flattery. If this advertisement had been shown in the 1980s, the feminist response would have been clear; classifying the product as vnot for girls’, suggesting that women are not vman enough’ to eat large chunks of chocolate would have been seen as sexist. But this advertisement is playing with stereotypes; the woman is not disguised convincingly as a man; the advertisement ridicules men as much as women, suggesting that men are obsessed with football and sex. So if we laugh at this advertisement because we think it is ironizing sexism, we could be seen to be buying into sexism, i.e. rejecting femininity and valuing masculinity, or if we don’t laugh at the advertisement and take it as sexist, we could be seen as humourless and unable to see the overt playfulness and critique in the advertisement (Mills, 2003).
Added to this instability within sexism which results in difficulties countering sexism, there is also an instability within anti-sexism. Anti-sexist campaigns have been destabilised in recent years because of the existence of “political correctness”. Many people feel that there is a confusion or overlap between anti-sexism and “political correctness”. To clarify, “political correctness” is often seen as an excessive concern for the sensibilities of minority groups which is manifested in a set of media-invented absurd terms, which no anti-sexist or anti-racist campaigners have argued should be adopted. These are often listed alongside vMs’ and “chairperson’ which feminists have campaigned to be adopted. This overlap and confusion has led to an undermining of attempts to reform language; some argue any intervention is impossible or politically inexpedient (Cameron, 1995). It is necessary to distinguish anti-sexist practices from “political correctness”, which is an abstracted set of rules extrapolated by the media from these practices and generalised to absurdity. However, for anti-feminists, “political correctness” is perceived to be the same as anti-sexism; it consists of a real set of rules which should be challenged in the name of free speech (Matsuda, et. al. 1993).
In order to eliminate sexism in the English language, which is viewed as a sexist language, several suggestions were set up:
1. Eliminate the generic use of Tie’ by:
a. Using plural nouns
b. Deleting he, his and him altogether
c. Substituting articles (the, an, a) for Iris’ and ‘who’ for Tie’
d. Substituting one, we, or you
e. Minimizing use of indefinite pronouns (e. g. everybody, someone)
f. Using the passive voice
g. Substituting nouns for pronouns
2. Eliminate the generic use of ‘man’:
a. Use person/people, individual(s), human(s), human being(s)
b. Use humankind, humanity, the human race
c. Use adulthood and maturity instead of manhood
d. Delete unnecessary references to generic ‘man’
3. Eliminate sexism when addressing persons formally by:
a. Using Ms instead of Miss or Mrs, even when a woman’s marital status is known
b. Using a married woman’s first name instead of her husband’s
c. Using the corresponding title for females whenever a title is appropriate for males
d. Using Dear Colleague or Editor or Professor in letters to unknown persons instead of Dear Sir, Gentleman
4. Eliminate sexual stereotyping of roles by:
a. Using the same terms for both females and males or by using the corresponding verb
b. Not calling attention to irrelevancies
4.4 Sex Differences in Communication of Leaders
Lips (in Ember&Ember, 2003) argues that power differences between the sexes is maintained by variations in men’s and women’s communication. According to a study carried out by Malamuth and Thornhill (1994), men talk more than women, and it is men who interrupt women and do not listen or respond to women. However, James and Clark (1993) introduce different results. In their research in which they reviewed 33 reports dealing with the relationship between gender and interruptions, they concluded there was no support for the argument as both genders interrupted and became interrupted. Interruptions may not always be power displays or games but, for instance, a sign of enthusiasm and solidarity. Tainio (in Ember&Ember, 2003) argues that gender difference in communication styles is mainly due to the difference in social status rather than gender, i.e. women have a lower status and behave accordingly.
Thus studies on sex differences in language and communication do not show uniform results. Overall, the results tend to show that women’s verbal and nonverbal behaviour is warmer and more deferential whereas men are more powerful and authoritative in their communication style. Women use more indirect influence strategies, they speak more tentatively and show more nonverbal warmth and adaptive behaviour than men. Carli, LaFleur and Loeber (1995) claim that men are more influenced by a warm and competent female speaker than only by a female speaker who is competent. The warm woman is considered as competent as the one who is only competent. Gray (2002) states that women express feelings in their communication as they want to include the listener in what they wish to say and they also want to establish a connection with them.
Women show less visual domination than men; they maintain more eye contact than men while listening, but less eye contact while talking, particularly in mixed-sex interactions. Interestingly, it has been found that in mixed-sex interactions, women’s influence is more effective when they display low levels of visual dominance than when they display high levels of visual dominance. On the other hand, men are more effective when they are visually dominant. It was also found that women exert greater influence over a male audience when they use tentative rather than direct speech, whereas males are equally influential with a male and female audience whichever of these two styles they use. These results indicate that women receive negative sanctions for being direct, but men can exhibit a wider range of behaviours and still remain influential. Because of gender stereotypes, the same nonverbal cues that are a sign of power for men may not work for women. There are vast cultural differences and norms that regulate face-to-face behaviour and communication between men and women.
According to Carli and Eagly (1999) these patterns of interaction in groups place women at a disadvantage. Henley (in Ember & Ember, 2003) argues that much of the nonverbal communication that characterizes male-female relationships follows a pattern parallel to that of superior-subordinate relationships, since women are more often in subordinate positions than men. It is believed that organization vocabulary is masculine, since many typical expressions used in business and politics originate from wars and male-led organizations (Garsombke, 1988).
4.5 Reasons of Variations 4.5.1 Sex and the Brain
For hundreds of years, scientists have been delving into research concerning the differences between male and female brains. This research has at differences in brain size, structure, and functions. More recently, studies have been conducted on the influence of hormones on sex differences. This controversial research has led to some heated debates about the biological influence on gendered behaviours.
One of the first topics to be considered was the comparative size of male and female brains. Male brains were noted to be larger than female brains were. The average brain of boys at birth was found to be from 12 to 20 per cent larger than that of girls. As adults, men were
found to have brains that weighed from 11 to 12 per cent more than the average weight for women. This early research was used to label women as intellectually inferior. It was later revealed, however, that when the size of the brain was compared with body weight, there was relatively no difference between the brain sizes of the sexes.
Brain structure was the next topic to receive considerable research attention. Looking for differences in brain structures to explain cognitive differences between males and females became a focal point. The hypothalamus, considered a primitive part of the brain, is the controller of many basic life functions such as temperature regulation, appetite, and sex drive. Scientists have found sex differences in several nuclei including the interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus. This clump of nerve cells was found to be larger in men than in women. Further, gender identity and sexual orientation have also been linked to variations in the hypothalamus.
In the past 10 years, neurobiologists have reported structural differences between the sexes that have been linked to women’s advantage in language-related tasks and male’s advantage in visuospatial skills. Some studies indicated that when processing language, activation in the men’s brains was confined to the left hemisphere, whereas both the left and right hemispheres of women’s brains were strongly activated. Furthermore, it has been said that men’s right hemisphere was more specialized for spatial tasks compared with that of females. The research suggests that women have greater integration between the brain’s two hemispheres (bilateral processing), whereas male brains are said to be more lateralized or specialized.
In taking a closer look at women’s language skills advantage, in average, women excel on recall of words and finding words that begin with a specific letter. They also tend to be better than men at matching items and performing certain precision tasks. Some research suggests that women’s stronger links between brain hemispheres enable verbal and nonverbal information to be coordinated. This may lead to women’s greater social sensitivity.
4.5.2 Verbal Abilities
According to Chambers (1995), women’s neurological advantage lead to greater verbal abilities which are responsible for the differences. The differences are biological rather than culturally derived or gender-based. Sociolinguists often invoked explanations based on women’s supposed greater politeness. When asked to say which forms they used themselves,
Norwich women tended to ‘over-report’ their usage and claimed that they used more standard forms than they actually did. Men, however, were likely to under-report their use of standard forms. This led Trudgill (in Holmes, Meyerhoff, 2003) to argue that for men, speaking non-standardly has covert prestige while the overt prestige associated with speaking the standard variety is more important to women. Thus, women may be using linguistic means as a way to achieve status denied to them through other outlets. Since women have long been denied equality with men as far as educational and employment opportunities are concerned there are not reliable indicators of a woman’s status or the status she aspires to. Although the marketplace establishes the value of men in economic terms, the only kind of capital a woman can accumulate is symbolic. She can be a good housewife, a good mother, a good wife and so on with respect to the community’s norms and stereotype for appropriate female behaviour. In this sense, the use of standard might be seen as yet another reflection of women’s powerlessness in the public sphere. This interpretation accorded well with one of the assumptions made by early gender scholars such as Lakoff who saw women’s language as the “language of powerlessness,” a reflection of their subordinate place in relation to men.
4.5.3 Sociolinguistic Reasons
Although many reasons have been put forward to try to explain these differences, they have never been satisfactorily counted for. After all, it is in some respects paradoxical that women should tend to use the more prestigious variants when most societies accord higher status and power to men. Moreover, as has often been the case with other patterns of gender differentiation, it is women’s behaviour that has been problematized and seen to be deviant and thus in need of explanation. It could just as easily be asked instead why men tend to use the standard less often than women of the same status. Labov (1966) commented on a case in which a middle-class male used a high level of non-standard variants for certain comparable to lower-middle or working-class speakers. After receiving his PhD in political science, he was being considered for a university teaching appointment, but was denied it when he refused to take corrective courses to improve his speech.
Having a look at the way language is used in institutions, it may be assumed that not sex but the working status is one of the main reasons of these variations.
Clare Walsh (2001) analysed the language of women working within male-dominated environments, for example as women priests, MPs or environmental campaigners. She found
that within these institutions are often viewed very negatively and if they use direct, confrontational language they are often criticized. Shaw (2002) also analysed the language use of women MPs and showed that while women are very able to adopt the type of aggressive formalized Parliamentary debating techniques which have been developed by male MPs, they may be judged differently to men when they do so. She also pointed out that women MPs tend to adhere to the speaking rules very strictly, observing Parliamentary forms of address, protocol and etiquette, whereas male MPs often manage to achieve certain advantages for themselves by breaking the rules.
McElhinny (1998) analysed the language of women police officers and found that they feel obliged to adopt particular masculine ways of speaking simply to appear to be doing their job in a professional way. The adopt ‘an economy of effect’ because disinterestedness is demanded of police officers by the public, since it signifies authoritativeness and impartiality. Moreover, she argues “that women who move into powerful and masculine institutions sometimes adopt the interactional behaviour characteristic of these institutions might disappoint some feminists. But it seems clear that who we think can do certain jobs changes rapidly than expectations about how these jobs should be dome. The process by which women enter a masculine workplace necessarily includes some adoption as well as adaptation of institutional norms.”
5 DISCOURSE AND DISCOURSE ANALYSIS
The term discourse is itself a subject to dispute, with different scholarly traditions offering different definitions of the term, some of which venture far beyond language-centred approaches. Within linguistics, the predominant definition of discourse is a formal one, deriving from the organization of the discipline into levels of linguistic units, such as phonology, morphology, and syntax. According to the formal definition, just as morphology is the level of language in which sounds are combined into words, and syntax is the level in which words are combined into sentences, so discourse is the linguistic level in which sentences are combined into larger units. An alternative definition focuses not on linguistic form but on function. Discourse, in this view, is language in context: that is language as it is
put to use in social situations, not the more idealized and abstracted linguistic forms that are the central concern of much linguistic theory.
Given its attention to the broader context of language use, the study of language and gender has overwhelmingly relied on the second definition of discourse. In practice, however, both definitions are compatible, for much of the situated language that discourse analysts study is larger than a single sentence, and even the formal analysis of discourse may require an appeal to the context in which it occurs.
Historically within linguistic research, the study of text (written discourse) or talk (spoken discourse) was not considered worthy of serious research. A key strand of linguistic research evolved from the writings of Noam Chomsky (in Hymes,) , who argued that the goal of linguistics should be to study underlying linguistic competence’, i.e. the rules that inform the production of grammatical sentences. For Chomsky, the focus of study was the abstract system: the underlying structure of language. Linguistic performance, the speaker’s actual utterances, was regarded as disorderly, chaotic and of no value in offering an understanding of language as a system.
A significant challenge to Chomsky’s theories was made by the applied linguistics. Dell Hymes (in Johnstone, 2010) introduced the term communicative competence in deliberate contrast to linguistic competence. According to Hymes, a person who has only linguistic competence would be quite unable to communicate, one would be a social monster producing grammatical sentences disconnected from the context in which they occurred. Theoretically speaking, it consists of four elements: “Possibility – the ability to produce grammatical sentences; Feasibility – the ability to produce sentences which can be decoded by the human brain; Appropriateness – the ability to use correct forms of language in a specific socio-cultural context; Performance – the fact that the utterance is completed.” This notion of a communicatively competent speaker and writer, who knows the rules of how to communicate appropriately in different social settings, has had a profound effect on linguists with an interest in the field of discourse analysis.
Many non-linguists – sociologists, psychologists and researchers in education, media and cultural studies – draw upon language as just one of many sources of evidence about their research subjects. Interviews, focus groups discussions and observation data all involve verbal interactions that must be transcribed and analysed. In other words, many non-linguists view discourse as data.
Alternatively, many linguists view data as discourse alongside discourse as data. According to Wooffitt (2005), whenever we describe something or refer to a place, event, object or state of affairs in the world, we select from a range of possible words and phrases. Consequently it follows that “discourse can never be taken as simply descriptive of the social action to which it refers, no matter how uniform particular segments of that discourse appear to be”. Language is not simply a neutral medium for generating subject knowledge, but a form of social practice that acts to constitute as much as to reflect social realities.
Two fundamental terms in the study of discourse are coherence and cohesion.
Coherence is the degree to which a discourse makes sense in terms of our knowledge of the world. When one attempts to understand a connected piece of speech or writing, the degree of success will depend upon several factors. Some of these, such as one’s general knowledge of the subject matter, are obvious and of no linguistic interest. But a factor of considerable interest and importance is the coherence of the discourse, its underlying structure, organization and connectedness. A coherent discourse has a high degree of such connectedness; an incoherent discourse does not, and is accordingly hard to follow. The notion of coherence is important with the various approaches to language called functionalism, and particularly within systematic Linguistics. Some types of connectedness are provided very explicitly by overt linguistic devices like anaphor; these are singled out for special attention as cohesion.
The presence of cohesive devices in a discourse provides the structure of the discourse itself. Quite apart from the more general kinds of devices for providing structure to a discourse or text, which belong to the domain of coherence, there are some very explicit linguistic devices, often of grammatical nature, which serve to provide connectedness and structure. Naturally, the proper use of cohesive devices has long been recognized as a fundamental aspect of good writing, but in recent years linguists have been turning their attention to the analysis of these devices. The term cohesion was coined by the British linguist Michael Halliday and the study of cohesion is especially prominent within Halliday’s Systematic Linguistics which is an avowedly functionalist approach to language, and it is arguably the functionalist approach which has been most highly developed. In contrast to most other approaches, it explicitly attempts to combine purely structural information with overtly social factors in a single integrated description. Similarly to other functionalist frameworks, it is deeply concerned with the purposes of language use. Halliday distinguishes among three
rather distinctive functions of language (metafunctions). The ideational, or experiential, function is the conveying of semantic content representing information about our experience of the external world. The textual function is the linking of linguistic elements to other linguistic elements, so that the various parts of a text can be integrated into a coherent and cohesive whole and related to the wider context of our speech or writing. The interpersonal function is the establishment and maintenance of social relations, including persuading other people to do things or to believe things.
Systemicists stress the utility of their framework in the analysis of texts, an area beyond the scope of many other approaches, and they accordingly devote more attention to the treatment of texts than to the analysis of isolated sentences. Because of this preoccupation with texts, the concepts of coherence and cohesion play a central role in the framework. Systematic Linguistics has developed an elaborate and highly distinctive system of terminology which often seems to owe little to what we can call mainstream linguistics.
There are four approaches to discourse analysis considered to be of particular significance for current research in linguistics – Conversation Analysis (CA), Discourse Analysis (DA), Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis (FCDA).
A key way to schematize discourse-analytic methodology is in terms of its relationship between micro analytical approaches, which examine the finer detail of linguistic interactions in transcripts, and macro analytical approaches, which consider how broader social processes work through language. They manifest interesting differences and contrasts between micro analytical or T)ottom-up’ approaches (CA), macro analytical or lop-down’ approaches (CDA), and methods which aim to combine (DA), or indeed challenge aspects of both (FCDA).
5.1 Spoken Discourse
The practical part of the given dissertation thesis aims at analysing the differences in female and male political leader’s speech. Therefore, it is important to give a short overview of the features describing the spoken discourse.
The speech is ephemeral. The fact that when processing speech the hearer cannot whenever he chooses stop the flow of production and search the records to check on some interpretation, and that participants have no record of conversations to take away with them means that speakers have to monitor hearers’ understanding as they go along, and that hearers provide evidence not just that they have heard, but that they have understood.
Speech is planned over units of less than a sentence in length. Speakers do not always produces complete grammatical sentences that would look acceptable if written down in every detail; as part of the monitoring process just mentioned, for instance, a speaker may detect a failure to understand on the part of his addressee, and may, therefore, break off and rephrase their utterance, or offer an additional explanatory material. Production failures, such as not being able to find the right word or to remember a name, may result in hesitations or filled pauses of urns and ers. The boundaries of planning units may be indicated by pauses, though not always in obvious ways. It should not be taken for granted that failures in fluency or correctness are in fact errors. Firstly, we should not allow conscious criteria of what is correct for written usage to be carried over without modification to our consideration of spoken language. Secondly, apparent failures may turn out to be produced deliberately or exploited for certain conversation effects.
Speech relies heavily on the context of utterances for its interpretation. Speakers in fact must rely on the context if unwanted implicatures are not to be generated. The context of utterance includes knowledge already known to be shared by speaker and hearer. If person A wishes to refer to their sister Jane, for example, and person B is a friend of Jane, were A refers to “my sister ” and not to “Jane “, B would may conclude that A has another sister, or that A does not know that B knows Jane. Objects in the surroundings, which are typically referred to by pronouns rather than descriptive expressions, also form a part of the context of utterance.
Since speakers have to express their thoughts as they produce them and in a such way that will be reasonably easy for the addressee to process, less complex syntactic structures are used in speech. Concepts that in writing would be expressed by passive sentences and relative clauses tend to be unpacked and conveyed bit by bit in a more linear fashion. Taking the last two points into account – the reliance on context and the use of linear rather than hierarchical sentence structures – means that we could describe speech as making heavier use of the pragmatic aspects of language, rather than the syntactic.
5.2 Conversational Analysis (CA)
Of the four approaches to discourse analysis, CA takes the most decisive departure from Chomsky’s view that linguistic performance is of little relevance o the linguist. Indeed, proponents of CA would posit the reverse, that ‘talk-in-interaction’ provides extraordinarily rich evidence of the underlying rules of how language works.
Linguists and social scientists are recognizing that the social world is a conversational one in which an overwhelming proportion of the world’s activities are conducted through spoken interactions, whether it is taking part in a meeting, arranging an appointment, sealing a deal, enjoying a family meal, making a complaint or simply negotiating day-to- day relationships with people. In short, CA considers that ordinary conversations construct social realities.
Key features of the CA approach are:
a. Talk-in-interaction – everyday speech exhibits a high level of regularity which is not governed by innate cognitive structures of language but which reflects a socially organized structure of interpersonal action. This orderliness, known as ‘the speech-exchange system’ is apparent in the pattern of sequential turn-taking, which characterizes most spoken interaction.
b. A data-centred approach – CA has a primary interest in transcript data and what these data reveal. Cameron (2001) describes CA’s micro analytical approach to spoken discourse as ‘putting a snowflake under the microscope to examine its complexity and detail’.
c. A neutral and objective stance – analysts are discouraged from bringing any theoretical or philosophical presuppositions to the date, in order to allow there to ‘speak for themselves’. A priori speculation in terms of speaker ‘orientations’, motivations and identities, social settings and cultural norms are regarded as distracting and irrelevant. Factors ‘external’ to the data, such as gender inequalities or cultural misunderstandings may be ‘made relevant’ by the participants in the transcript data. It is on this basis alone that external factors became available to the analyst for comment and interpretation.
The approach of CA continues to demonstrate that fundamental rules govern the patterning of talk-in-interaction. Just as we can theorize the rules that underlie grammatical and syntactical
choices, so we can make reasoned predictions – based on our knowledge of turn-taking rules and the ways these are occasionally broken or ‘violated’. According to Schegloff (in Bloomaert, 2005), CA satisfies the need for a systematic form of discourse analysis that offers linguists as ‘Archimedean point’ which is ‘internal to the object of analysis itself. In other words, CA’s data-centred approach possesses its own internal rule system, which allows linguistic data to be analysed neutrally and a single, reliable interpretation to be reached. CA focuses on what linguistic data reveal, rather than upon external, sociological theorizing, and additionally offers what it regards as a reliable set of instruments by which to describe, analyse and interpret spoken discourse within the field of linguistics.
5.3 Discourse Analysis (DA)
The term ‘discourse analysis’ was first employed in 1952 by Zellig Harris for “a method for the analysis of connected speech (or writing) ” that is for “continuing descriptive linguistics beyond the limit of a single sentence at a time,” and for correlating culture and language (Harris, 1952).
Discourse analysis (DA) has a strong focus on studying language in its own right, although it is often appropriated as an analytic tool by researchers from other disciplines. Similarly to CA, this approach in its diverse strands recognizes that there is no orderliness, logic and meaningfulness to linguistic performance. The hallmark of DA, however, is its recognition of the variability in and the context dependence of participants’ discourse. By far the most common sources of data for DA tend to be the accounts drawn from recording of informal, spoken interviews between researchers and respondents, making it a popular, qualitative method of data analysis for linguists and social scientists alike. However, it has also been used to analyse a variety of data such as formal academic journal writing, newspaper reports and media interviews, and accounts of journalists and politicians during a political controversy.
DA may, broadly speaking, be defined as the study of language viewed communicatively and/or of communication viewed linguistically. Any more detailed spelling out of such a definition typically involves reference to concepts of language in use, language above or
beyond the sentence, language as meaning in interaction, and language in situation and cultural context.
To illustrate the point, we can imagine four linguists preparing to work with the following sample (from Trappes-Lomax, in Davies, Elder, 2004):
• You THREW it so you GET it
• MOIka + 111 call my MUM
Linguist 1 sees a text, the verbal record of a speech event, something visible and portable, consisting of various bits of linguistic meaning (words, clauses, prosodic features). This linguist is mainly interested in the way the parts of the text relate to each other to constitute a unit of meaning.
Linguist 2 sees beyond the text to the event of which it is the verbal record. Linguist 2 is most likely the person who collected the data; and who made the following note describing some features of the situation in which the exchange took place – ‘sunny Sunday afternoon, Edinburgh Botanic Garden, two girls, both aged 7 or 8, on a path; one of them has kicked the ball they are playing with into the bushes. This linguist is mainly interested in the relationships between the various factors in the event: the participants, their cultural backgrounds, their relationship to each other, the setting, what is going on, etc.
Linguist 3 sees the text and the event but then beyond both to the performance being enacted, the drama being played out between the two girls: what has happened, who is responsible, how the girls evaluate these facts, how they respond to them, what each is trying to achieve, etc. this linguist is mainly interested in the dynamics of the process that makes the event happen.
Linguist 4 sees the text, the event, and the drama; however, beyond these the framework of knowledge and power which, if properly understood, will explain how it is possible for the two children, individually and jointly, to enact and interpret their drama in the way they do.
As implied by the above, there is not much to be gained from attempts to achieve a single definition of discourse that is both comprehensive and succinct.
For Linguist 1 discourse is the product of such an event, especially in the form of visible text, whether originally spoken and subsequently transcribed or originally written. Linguist 2 may
understand discourse as a particular event in which such processes are instantiated. The third linguist understands discourse as the linguistic, cognitive and social processes whereby meanings are expressed and intentions interpreted in human interaction. Finally, Linguist 4 interprets discourse as the historically and culturally embedded sets of conventions which constitute and regulate such processes (Trappes-Lomax, in Davies, Elder, 2004).
Like CA, DA has originated from sociology. Social scientists Gilbert and Mulkay were investigating the sociology of scientific knowledge following a dispute in the field of biochemistry. Their analytical goal was to discover the systematic features of scientists’ discourse but they came across strongly conflicting descriptions of experience. They had wanted to produce a single, definitive, sociological account of the social processes which were at work in the way this group of scientists resolved their dispute. The pair began to realize that accounts and description cannot be treated as neutral representations of an ‘objective’ social reality but as linguistic constructions of a given experience. In other words, they received a variety of different versions of ostensibly the same phenomenon – scientists’ discourse in formal academic journals was systematically different from the discourse generated in informal interviews. The former appeared to be constituted through an ’empirical repertoire’, indexed by the use of formal language and terminology, a strict adherence to scientific procedure and its role in revealing an ‘objective’ reality, while the latter was constituted through a ‘contingent repertoire’, indexed by a more formal tone, biographical detail, personal comment and expression of feeling.
The most important key features of DA are as follows:
a. Principle of variability – language is used for a variety of functions and its use has variable consequences, the same phenomenon can be described in a number of difference ways according to audience, purpose and context.
b. Constructed and constructive nature of language – for Gilbert and Mulkay (in Wooffitt, 2005) ‘discourse can never be taken as simply descriptive of the social action to which it refers, no matter how uniform particular segments of that discourse appear to be’.
c. Interpretative repertoire – research accounts often provide evidence of regular, descriptive features or device. The term ‘repertoire’ denotes the used system of terms used in order to characterize and evaluate actions, events and other phenomena.
d. A combination of micro and macro analytical approaches – micro and macro analytical approaches work together to produce an interpretation within DA. Its main
conceptual tool, interpretative or linguistic repertoires are used to identify regular features in the data such as idioms, metaphors, figures of speech and professional terminology, which may signify wider patterns of language use.
Discourse analysis has certainly evolved into a theoretical framework that potentially threatens tenets of linguistics as a ‘science’. For many applied linguists and sociolinguists working in interdisciplinary ways with various forms of cultural analysis, DA’s social constructionist and interpretative stance is likely to make good epistemological sense. DA combines micro analysis of language with macro level discussion about how versions of social reality are constituted, and thereafter made resistant to criticism by the use of specific rhetorical strategies.
5.4 Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA)
CDA is useful to linguistic scholars because, like CA and DA, it analyses real, and often extended, samples of spoken and written discourse. However, unlike CA in particular, CDA adopts a macro analytical view of the world in that it takes the notion of discourse in its widest sense as social and ideological practice. CDA research specifically considers how language works within institutional and political discourses (e.g. in education, media, government, organizations), as well as specific discourses (around class and gender), in order to uncover overt or more often, covert inequalities in social relationships.
CDA views itself as a critical perspective, or program of scholarship which can be combined with other approaches and commissioned by scholars working in a range of disciplines related both to linguists and to the social sciences more generally. CDA evolved formally in the early 1990s as a perspective applied by a network of scholars with shared political concerns about social inequalities in the world but with widely differing interests in areas such as literature, media studies, politics, information technology and genre studies.
Theoretical diversity of CDA can be summed up in the following key features:
a. Language as social practice – language use in speech and writing is seen as a social practice, which implies a dialectical relationship between a particular discursive event and the situation, institutions and social structures which frame it.
b. Relationship between language and power – since discourses are so influential, they can help to produce and reproduce unequal power relations between different ethnicities, social classes, ages, gender and professional groups.
c. A committed agenda – Van Dijk used the term ‘critical’ to mean ‘discourse analysis with attitude’. Working from the opposite pole to CA, CDA starts from prevailing social problems, and thereby chooses the perspective of those who suffer most and critically analyses those in power, those who are responsible, and those who have the means and the opportunity to solve such problems’.
d. Text and context -CDA largely draws upon a solid linguistic basis in that it examines textual features such as sentence structures, verb tense, syntax, lexical choice, the internal coherence and cohesion of discourse.
e. Self-reflexivity – given CDA’s commitment to an emancipatory agenda, an important self-correcting principle is that of self-reflexivity; the need for discourse analysts to by explicitly self-referential about their a priori assumptions, motivations and value system in conducting linguistic research.
f. Intertextuality – it involves the ways in which one discourse is always inscribed and inflected with traces of other discourses. Chouliaraki and Fairclough give the example of feminist political discourses which have ‘internalized Marxist and poststructuralist discourses, incorporating some of their concepts, but appropriating them in ways which accord with their own logic’.
g. Deconstruction – CDA is concerned to unravel exactly how binary power relations constitute identities, subject positions and interactions within discourses and texts, and thus create social inequalities.
It is fair to say that ‘the jury is out’ in terms of how the field of linguistics has received CDA. On the plus side, CDA has been of immense value to researchers looking at institutional discourse, where differentials in power relations are often systematic. On the negative side, linguists have criticized CDA in terms of the vagueness of its methods, methodology and analytical approaches; as well as in terms of biased interpretations of discourse under the guise of critical analysis. For those linguists who assess their subject primarily as a science governed by a positivist model of research, CDA will beg all sorts of questions about representativeness, partiality, prejudice, selectivity and voice. For those linguists whose research has already embraced hermeneutic, interpretivist or social constructionist principles,
CDA will be appreciated for its readiness to declare its principles and to marry ideological commitment to the pursuit of rigorous, replicable and retrievable research methods.
5.5 Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis (FCDA)
Like CDA, FCDA has its root in DA approaches but more exclusively draws from post-structuralist theory. FCDA can be defined as “an approach to analysing intertextualised discourses in spoken interaction and other types of text. It draws upon the postructuralist principles of complexity, plurality, ambiguity, connection, recognition, diversity, textual playfulness, functionality and transformation. The feminist perspective on postructuralist discourse analysis considers gender differentiation to be a dominant discourse among competing discourses when analysing all types of text. ” (Baxter).
FCDA focuses on a feminist perspective where gender differentiation is the key. FCDA originally evolved in response to an ethnographic case study of teenage school children’s assessed talk in a British classroom. During the long-term process of observing how these students interacted during a course module on public speaking, Baxter discovered that the ways in which children’s talk was assessed as part of their General Certificate of Secondary Education examination depended as much on the interplay of four ethnographically identified, dominant discourses – in the widest sense of this term – as upon any formal assessment criteria. The discourses were labelled gender differentiation, peer and staff approval, fair play and a model of collaborative talk, which were seen to position individual students in different and competing ways, at times as relatively powerful, and at other times as relatively powerless. Baxter’s research evidence revealed that students who were awarded the top ‘A’ grade were not necessarily the most proficient speakers in the class. Rather, these students were more consistently positioned as powerful subjects among their classmates within and across the four discourses, which in practice meant that they tended to be male, popular with their peers, liked by their teachers, given more turns in class discussions, and able to use both presentational and collaborative forms of talk reasonably effectively. These positions of power were inscribed by hegemonic educational and social practices which appear to approve the ascendancy of males, the role of high status students, and the abilities of speakers rather than listeners.
FCDA does share with CDA a number of defining features in keeping with its social constructionist origins – the idea of language as social practice, the relation between language and power, the importance of the self-reflexive researcher, the principle of intertextuality, and the role of deconstruction in conducting discourse analysis. However, FCDA is not simply a sub-branch of the multidisciplinary and accommodating CDA, because it operates within a contrasting yet supplementary theoretical paradigm.
a. Not an emancipatory agenda, but a transformative quest – in line with its poststructuralist origins, FCDA does not support an emancipatory agenda to discourse analysis because this is ‘a will to truth’ leading to ‘a will to power’, which will ultimately transmute into its own ‘grand narrative’. Alternatively, FCDA supports small-scale, bottom-up, localized social transformations that are vital in its larger quest to challenge dominant discourses (like gender differentiation, or indeed, an institutionalized method of linguistic analysis such as CDA).
b. The diversity and multiplicity of speakers’ identities – for FCDA, many power variables construct speakers’ identities such as regional background, ethnicity, class, age, though among these, gender is viewed as a significant force. According to context or moment, some of these variables are more or less salient in constructing identities through spoken interaction.
c. Complexity rather than polarization of subject of study – FCDA challenges binary thinking that tends to structure thoughts in oppositional pairs, placing one term over the other. Significantly, it takes issues with CDA’s tendency to polarize subject of study into two categories – the more powerful, those who wield power over others, and the less powerful, or those who suffer its abuse. FCDA argues that most females are not helpless victims of patriarchal oppression, but that gender identities are complex, shifting and multiply located, continuously fluctuating between subject positions of powerfulness and powerlessness.
d. An interplay between micro and macro analysis – FCDA draws upon both levels of analysis or rather, an interplay between the two. The micro level looks at the construction of meaning within localized or context-specific settings such as classrooms, board meetings and TV talk shows. Within these, it examines linguistic data in terms of turn-taking, sentence structure, verb tense, lexical choice, the internal coherence and cohesion of discourse, aspects which help analysts to pinpoint the exact moments in discourse when a speaker shifts between states of relative
powerfulness and powerlessness. Drawing on this finely grained evidence, dominant discourses are identifies synchronically within individual transcripts, and diachronically, over a sequence of transcripts. Macro analysis, drawing on the identified, dominant discourses, helps to explain major or more subtle shifts in the power relations between speakers within particular interactions and contexts.
While it is the newest and least established of the fours approaches, FCDA is arguably a necessary antidote to the other three, in that it offers a ‘supplementary’ approach, simultaneously complementing and undermining other methods. Within linguistics, there is much value to be gained from a multiperspectival approach that combines different methodological tools in a pragmatic way as befits the task in hand. The textual interplay between competing terms, methods and sets of ideas allows for more multiple, open-ended readings of a piece of analysis.
Castaneda-Pena (in Simpson, 2011) makes FCDA his central approach for analysing the speech of pre-schoolers in Colombia, but also draws upon CA approaches to microanalyse sequences of conversation turns, as well as applying a CDA critique. To sum up, it is the quest of FCDA to act as a kind of ‘agent provocateur’ to other more established approaches to discourse analysis, constantly questioning their status as ‘grand narratives’ which may serve to impede new ways of thinking.
What are the possible limitations of FCDA? The first may lie in its warrant for identifying, naming and analysing significant discourses within classroom and other contexts. There are times when it seems that both CDA and FCDA are capable of randomly generating new discourses to suit their ideological (CDA) or epistemological (FCDA) purposes. CA, in contrast, bases its own warrants on a systematic methodology; any larger patterns it claims to detect in tis microanalysis of ‘talk-in-interaction’ can always be located, turn by turn, within specific speech exchanges. Secondly, FCDA may need do devise more linguistically distinctive methods of analysis. At present, its ‘denotative’ approach to analysis relies on eclectic methods more associated with Interactional Sociolinguistics, literary criticism and CA. the attribution of a rigorous and reliable method of analysis – a distinctive brand – still remains the preserve of CA.
6 LANGUAGE OF POLITICS
Since the time when Aristotle wrote his Politics and Rhetoric as well as since the rhetorical treaties of classical Greece and Rome, political discourse has received much attention as a special object of study. According to Denton (1996) “politics is talk or human interaction. Such interaction may be formal or informal, verbal or nonverbal, public or private but it is always persuasive, forcing us consciously or subconsciously to interpret, to evaluate, and to act.” Political discourse may be relevant for all citizens. Its power derives from this scope and from its various degrees of legitimacy. Few forms of oral discourse are as well known, routinely quoted, or distributed as widely through the mass media as that of top politicians, such as the president or prime minister. Especially in the United States, speeches and media performances of the president are both a prominent social or political event, and a preferred object of study. This dominant presence in the media may be interpreted as a manifestation of political power.
Many of the studies dealing with political discourse focus on what is commonly called political language which mostly means specific lexical style (Begsdorf, 1983; Shapiro, 1984). Ideologies have been studied through analysis of preferential use of specific words or concepts, typically so for extremist politicians of the Left or the Right. However, it is interesting to go beyond the study of single words and look into other discourse structures, of which some are even less in the control of the speaker, and therefore often more revealing of attitudes and ideologies. So far most of the work studying political discourse has been carried out by linguists and discourse analysts because political science is among the few social disciplines in which discourse analysis has remained virtually unknown, although there is some influence of ‘post-modern’ approaches to discourse and many studies of political communication and rhetoric overlap with a discourse analytical approach.
Although studies of political discourse in English are internationally best known because of the hegemony of English, much work has been done in German, French and Spanish.
Germany has a long tradition of political discourse analysis, both in the West as well as in the former East. This tradition in Germany witnessed a study of the language of war and peace and of speech acts in political discourse. There is also a strong tradition of studying fascist language and discourse.
In France, the study of political language has a respectable tradition in linguistics and discourse analysis, also because the barrier between mostly structuralist linguistic theory and text analysis was never very pronounced. Discourse studies are often corpus-based and there has been a strong tendency towards formal, quantitative and automatic analysis of such big datasets, often combined with critical ideological analysis. The emphasis on automated analysis usually implies a focus on lexical analysis.
Critical political discourse studies in Spain and especially in Latin America has been very productive. Famous is the early critical semiotic study of Donald Duck by Dorfman and Mattelart in Chile. Lavandera et al. in Argentica take an influential sociolinguistic approach to political discourse, e.g. its typology of authoritarian discourse. Work of this group has been continued and organized in a more explicit Critical Discourse Analysis framework especially by Pardo. In Mexico, a detailed ethnographic discourse analysis of local authority and decision-making was carried out by Sierra (in van Dijk, 2008).
In the English-speaking world, the connection between language and politics was first brought to general attention in a 1946 article by George Orwell, that anticipates the core problem of language he would address so memorably three years later in his novel 1984: “Modem English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration … this invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases … can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain. ”
6.1 Political Cognition and Political Discourse
Alongside with political discourse, political cognition has recently received interesting attention, but unfortunately the connection between the two has largely been ignored. Political psychology has not shown much interest in discourse, and vice versa, most scholars interested in political discourse disregard the cognitive foundations of such discourse. However, the relationships involved are as obvious as they are interesting.
The study of political cognition largely deals with the mental representations people share as political actors. Knowledge and opinions about politicians, parties or presidents are largely acquired, or confirmed by various forms of text and talk during our socialization, formal education, conversation and media usage. Thus, political information processing often is a form of discourse processing, also because much political action and participation is accomplished by discourse and communication.
On the other hand, a study of political discourse is theoretically and empirically relevant, only when discourse structures can be related to properties of political structures and processes.
6.1.1 Political Cognition
The study of political cognition focuses on various aspects of political information processing. It essentially deals with the acquisition, uses and structures of mental representations about political situations, events, actors and groups.
A review of a conceptual framework of political cognition (cognitive processes, short-term memory, long-term memory, knowledge as the organized mental structure consisting of shared factual beliefs) is beyond the scope of this chapter. However, in order to understand the structures of political discourse, more needs to be said about general political representations. We may want to know how political attitudes and ideologies are represented and what the role of political values and norms in such representations are. Furthermore, we may be interested in how such structures affect the content and structures of both event models and context models, and how finally they may appear in political discourse.
The general cultural knowledge is the basis of all interaction and communication in society and is generally presupposed in discourse. This kind of knowledge is generally undisputed, uncontroversial and taken for granted, and taught in socialization and at school in a given society. These generally shared factual beliefs are accepted as “knowledge’ in society.
‘Knowledge within a group itself refers to factual beliefs that are only accepted as true by specific social groups, such as professionals, members of a party, or scientists. Outside the
group, however, such knowledge is called ‘belief or ‘opinion’, that is, beliefs that are not found to be true according to the truth criteria of the general culture, or those of other groups.
Much political knowledge is group knowledge and will often be seen as ‘mere political opinion’ by opposing groups. Typically, knowledge feminists about male dominance in society may be rejected by man men, and the same is true for the knowledge of environmental groups about pollution which may be challenged by polluters.
Socially shared knowledge of specific groups or whole cultures needs to be applicable in many situations and therefore needs to be general and abstract. For instance, it may be about immigrants in general but is not about a specific immigrant or a specific event.
Finally, there is a type of knowledge that embodies characteristics of both specific (model-based) knowledge, and socially shared knowledge, namely historical knowledge. Such knowledge may be about historical events but at the same time it may be more or less generally known, and therefore even presupposed in discourse and interaction. Much political knowledge is of that kind.
18.104.22.168 Opinions and Attitudes
The beliefs described in the previous sub-chapter as various kinds of knowledge may be called ‘factual’ because person, groups or whole cultures hold them to be true according to their respective truth criteria. However, there are also sets of belief in social memory that are not dealt with in terms of truth criteria but shared on the basis of evaluative criteria, namely opinions. Shared social opinions may be organized in large structures which may reserve the traditional term ‘attitude’. Because of their evaluative nature, opinions and attitudes are typically not taken for granted, uncontroversial or undisputed and are therefore seldom part of the cultural general knowledge.
Evaluative beliefs are based on norms and values. Opinion is an evaluative description of a mental act that violates the values of democracy.
Personal opinions, and the discourse expressing them, may thus be more or less in accordance with group attitudes, and more or less coherent. Empirical research suggests that such attitudinal coherence is more pronounced for those who have political expertise in a specific area than for novices.
It may be assumed that the social representations shared by a group may be organized by underlying ideologies. These are by definition general and abstract because they must apply to many different attitudes in different social domains.
The level of abstraction and complex control of social cognition requires extensive social learning from experience or direct indoctrination. Therefore ideologies are acquired relatively late in development and not in the same detailed way by all group members. However, to be a member of an ideological group and to identify with such a group will probably require that one accepts a few core ideological beliefs.
It is believed that ideologies are organized first of all by group self-schemata, with such categories as Membership Criteria, Activities, Goals, Values, Norms, Resources and Social Position. These are the categories in which the crucial information is represented that self-defines the own group, as well as its relation to other groups; who we are, what we do, or what our aims are.
6.1.2 Political Discourse
As it has been already mentioned, political discourse should not and cannot be understood as a separate unit without political cognition.
The features of political discourse vary, as do its purposes. Where politicians interact with society generally, their purposes may be to persuade voters with a party loyalty to turn out to vote, to move a floating voter’s party allegiance, or to make us adopt general political or social attitude, so we support a given policy. Politicians may also use particular language forms when answering journalists’ questions. Where politicians engage in language interactions with other politicians, they may use other particular forms – either loosely or under the rule of an arbiter. And finally, a contemporary feature of political language use is what is known as ‘spin’ – providing information to the media in such a way as to favour a desired interpretation, not explicitly stated.
There are four ways how the purpose is enacted by discourse as a form of social interaction:
a. Direct control of action is achieved through discourses that have directive pragmatic function (elocutionary force), such as commands, threats, laws, regulations, instructions and more indirectly by recommendations and advice. Speakers often have an institutional role, and their discourses are often backed by institutional power. Compliance in this case is often obtained by legal or other institutional sanctions.
b. Persuasive discourse types, such as advertisements and propaganda, also aim at influencing future actions of recipients. Their power is based on economic, financial, or, in general, corporate or institutional resources, and exercises through access to the mass media and to widespread public attention. Compliance in this case is manufactured by rhetorical means, for example, by repetition and argumentation, but of course backed up by the usual mechanisms of market control.
c. Beyond these prescriptive discourse forms, future actions may also be influenced by descriptions of future or possible events, actions or situations, for instance, in predictions, plans scenarios, programs and warning, sometimes combined with different forms of advice. The power groups involved here are usually professionals, and their power basis often the control of knowledge and technology. The rhetorical means often consist of argumentation and the description of undesired alternative courses of action. More implicitly, scholarly reports about social or economic developments may thus influence future actions.
d. Various types of sometimes widespread and, hence, possibly influential narrative, may describe the (un)desirability of future actions, and may have recourse to a rhetoric of dramatic or emotional appeals, or to various forms of topical or stylistic originality. The power groups involved here form what we call the symbolic elites. A specific case of this class of discourse is news reports in the media which not only describe current events and their possible consequences but which essentially portray the actions, and represent the opinions of the political, economic, military and social power elites. It is mainly in this way that the consensual basis of power is manufactured, and through it the general public gets to know who has power and what the powerful want. This is a crucial condition for the development of the supporting ideological framework of power but also for various forms of resistance.
While talking about the purpose of the political discourse, context defined in terms of participants’ mental models of communicative events is very important. These
communicative events are subjective and evaluative representations of self and other participants, and of the other discourse-relevant categories of communicative situations.
Many genres of political discourse (parliamentary debates, laws, propaganda, slogans, or peace negotiations) are largely defined in contextual, rather than in textual terms. Political discourse is not primarily defined by topic or style, but rather by who speaks to whom, as what, on what occasion and with what goals. On other words, political discourse is especially ‘political’ because of its functions in the political process.
Contexts also regulate style, such as the formality of designating expression as a function of formal, institutional interaction in parliament, or the use of popular expressions (for instance, ‘enough is enough’) as a function of the persuasive strategy of positive self-presentation of a populist MP who claims to take the perspective of ‘ordinary people’. Contexts, moreover, regulate the pragmatic dimension of political discourse, for example the use of speech acts such as the rhetorical questions.
Relations between context, discourse and cognition have several directions. Contexts constrain text production, resulting in context-bound discourse structures. These again will be interpreted by recipients as properties of the context model of the speaker. Discourse structures may in turn influence recipient models of context. They may accept these interpretations of the context and construe them in their own context models. On the other hand, they may represent and evaluate the current interaction and especially the speaker in a different way.
22.214.171.124 Political Discourse Structures and Strategies
Many discourse structures are a function of context models. However, discourse is not only constrained by context models, but also by event models, that is, why the speaker interprets the events talked about, as well as by more general social representations shared by group members. Important for the definition of political discourse is that such structures are relevant for political structures and processes.
What information is defined and emphasized to be important or topical in political discourse, is a function of the topic itself. Thus, negative information about Us, our own group, will not be topicalized, whereas negative information about Them, the Others tends to be topicalized.
On the other hand, Our positive characteristics will be topical whereas Their positive characteristics will be ignored, downplayed or mentioned only in passing.
The global schematic organization of discourse is conventional and hence not directly variable because of context constraints: thus, a parliamentary speech has the same constituent categories whether engaged in by a Conservative or Labour MP. It is especially the order, prominence, kind and extent of the information included in these categories what may vary, and hence be highlighted or mitigated as a function of positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation.
Parliamentary debates are typically persuasive discourses, in which MPs take political positions, express their opinions and attack those of others within the framework of argumentative structures – one of the most characteristic schematic structures of discourse.
During press conferences, politicians are often confronted with topics that they would rather not discuss. In these situations, they need to resort to distancing strategies and evasive strategies, including euphemisms and other means of associative engineering, and abrupt shifts of topic. As an example of distancing strategy is Clinton’s infamous denial “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky”, where Clinton uses the distal demonstrative ‘that’, calls Monica ‘a woman’ and adds her last name, with the title ‘Miss’ as an appositive.
Political context models define what information of models of current events will be relevantly included in discourse or not. This is true both for global (topical) meanings, as well as for local meanings expressed in the actual sentences of text or talk. An important context category controlling this selection is the political ideology of the speaker and the recipients which may also influence the complexity of local meanings.
Finally, semantic representations are expressed in variable surface structures, that is, through specific lexicalization, syntactic structures and specific features of sound, printing or images, as well as by rhetorical devices that are geared towards the emphasis or de-emphasis of underlying meaning. It has been said that cognitively such variation is partly a function of structures and opinions in event models. Thus, negative opinions about out-groups, as stored in event models and political attitudes, typically will be lexicalized by negative words. Such lexicalizations may not only be negative but also have a rhetorical function as hyperboles. Conversely, positive lexicalization may be chosen to express positive self-images of the
ingroup. The use of specific lexical variants may also have very different faming effects on the activation of political attitudes and ideologies, and hence on the construction of event models.
Many properties of style and rhetoric, however, are not expressions of underlying opinions or structures of models or political representations, but monitored by the various categories of context models. Certain terms are prototypical for the domain of politics, and the choice of formal words indexes the formality of a parliamentary speech.
Political discourse takes the advantage of traditional rhetorical strategies, such as rhetorical questions, appeals to authority, appeals to logic, poetic devices, reference to America, and many more.
The hallmark of a rhetorical question is that it is used to create an effect by engaging listeners and making them think, and it is not intended to elicit a reply. Spurgin (1994) claims that “the rhetorical question, because it invites assent, can provide a persuasive conclusion to the argument.” According to Crowley and Hawhee (2004) characterize rhetorical questions as those that do not expect a reply and their use is to “emphasize a point. ” Copi and Burgess-Jackson (1995) argue that rhetorical questions do not seek information; however, their function is informative as “an oblique way of communicating information. ”
The rhetorical strategy of asking a question to which the speaker himself provides the answer has been popular since antiquity. It reflects and imitates the Socratic method of inducing agreement by involving the audience member in a thinking process, leading to the idea that the answer is in some way a product of a mutual agreement between the speaker and the audience. Their use is a quite persuasive means to make the audience agree with the solutions provided.
Appealing to authorities such as ancient philosophers, the founding fathers, and high military officials is also frequently used in political discourse in order to back up politicians’ ideas, policies, proposals, and decision. Halmari (in Halmari and Virtanen; 2005) examined and compared the speeches of two presidents – Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton – and pointed out that both presidents resort to authorities. “By framing his citation of Dole by ‘I think Senator Dole actually said it best’ and thus presenting not only his own, but also Dole’s view, with which he agrees on the issue of Bosnia, Clinton ensures that his view and decisions regarding Bosnia cannot be criticized by the Republicans. Resorting to one’s opponent’s
authority, in other words, backing up one’s own ethical appeal with somebody else’s -exemplifies a clever persuasive strategy, which is likely to disarm the opposition. ”
For Aristotle, the rhetoric, the art of public speaking is “the counterpart of Dialectic, ” the art of logical discussion. Rhetorical arguments “are the substance of rhetorical persuasion” (Aristotle, 1984). A strong appeal to logos, i.e. clear, systematic, and logical organization of ideas implies the premises rather than states them explicitly. As Aristotle wrote: “The political orator aims at establishing the expediency or the harmfulness of a proposed course of action; if he urges its acceptance, he does so on the ground that it will do good; if he urges its rejection, he does so on the ground that it will do harm ” (Aristotle, ibid.).
Rhetorical discourse may often be poetic as it has “ritualistic, aesthetic, dramatic, and emotive qualities” (Campbell and Burkholder, 1997). One of the most common devices used in political discourse is alliteration. Its tradition of using in the Anglo-American world goes back to the great poetry of Old English. However, their use cannot be seen as directly persuasive; there is nothing in alliteration per se that would lead the audience to sympathize or agree with the speaker. If we take the classic view of Isocrates (1988), who points out that “the power to speak well is taken as the surest index of a sound understanding” it is easy to see how alliteration fits in with an overall persuasive style. Alliterations do not attract attention by being overly decorative; it is a modest and subtle way of sending the audience the message that the speaker is a powerful speaker and therefore a person worth listening to.
Reference to America as ‘nation’ by subtle choices of determiners makes the concept closer and dearer. By subtly grammatical and lexical means, America is personified; the use of the inflectional possessive is one way to personify America. It is important to note that America is personified as female.
Literary devices mentioned above, alliteration and personification, while not persuasive in the sense that they would be intended to directly cause a change in the behaviour of the audience, can be seen as persuasive if they are used to create an overall image of the speaker as an eloquent and a competent leader.
Other persuasive strategies common for political speeches include the use of vocatives, humour, and the use of personal pronouns.
Getting, or keeping, the audience on the side of the speaker is the central purpose of persuasion, and vocatives aid this purpose by alerting the audience that the speaker is
addressing their needs. Deploying a vocative has become a conventionalized characteristic of the opening of political speeches. A suitable amount of humour during a political speech can be a powerful persuasive strategy as well. It engages and entertains the audience and evokes a positive reaction – laughter. The choice of personal pronouns is a subtle and clever way to guide the thinking of the audience. It is a subtle strategy, but because of the frequency of occurrence of personal pronouns, they successfully penetrate throughout the speech.
7 METHODOLOGY OF RESEARCH
It may be a bit difficult to date the exact starting point of sociolinguistics; however, it might have flourished mainly in the 1950s. A number of works which today represent the classic literature of sociolinguistics was published in those times, mainly in the United States of America. Authors focused on questions which are generally included in the field of today’s sociolinguistics.
The main issues sociolinguistics deals with and focuses on are the “distribution of national language dependent on social factors, bilingualism and diglossia, sociolinguistic view on language changes and questions arising from language politics and language planning” (Černý, 2005).
While talking about the frontiers of sociolinguistics, it is a field closely interconnected with psycholinguistics and, more importantly, sociology itself. The latter is important for the use of sociological research methods which are applied also in sociolinguistic research. However, it is important to allege that despite its interdisciplinary character we talk about a discipline which is mainly a linguistic one; one which employs linguists and only very seldom sociologists.
It should be noted that similarly to other fields and disciplines, namely psycholinguistics, theory of speech acts and textual linguistics, some of the sociolinguistic representatives claim it to be superior to other linguistic disciplines; in other words, they believe sociolinguistics is more important than linguistics itself. We cannot doubt the importance of social functions and social factors of language, thus, there are a number of other extra-linguistic phenomena which should be and must be dealt with and for this reason the sole sociological aspect of language is pushed into the background.
The main reason why sociolinguistics arose was the fact that language, in some way, represents the so-called social stratification, i.e. it represents “speech habits which may help to identify this or that individual as belonging to this or that social class” (Vachek, 1976).
While talking about social classes, studies show there is no clear connection between language used by individual speakers and their membership to a particular social group, even though there were studies which tried to prove the opposite (N.J. Marr and his theory of “new teaching”, Bernstein and his theory of two different variants of British English where one represents the elaborated language of the middle class and the other the restricted language of the working class) (Černý, 2005).
Today’s sociolinguistics is aware of the fact that there are many variables influencing the language one of which the most important are:
a. Geographical variable – refers to dialects and their variants
b. Social variable – refers to slang and jargon
c. Contextual variable- refers to the social situation in which a conversation takes places Except these three variables there are another five factors influencing one’s speech activity:
a. Age – speech of young generation differs from the one of older generation. Young people import language innovations; they tend to alter the language.
b. Sex – language of women is more conservative than the language men.
c. Affiliation to an ethnic group – for example variants of English used by African Americans or African Cubans.
d. Social status – we cannot talk about a direct parallel between social classes and language use, however, there are differences in languages used by people from different classes.
e. Education – two people leading a discussion may be of the same age, sex, they may belong to the same ethnic and social group but the difference in language they use may be caused due to their different education and intelligence (interconnection with psycholinguistics).
7.1 Sociolinguistic Research
The methodology of linguistics is governed by the prevailing concept of paradigm, or the prevailing theoretical tendency, and even by the narrower branch of linguistics concerned. It therefore varies, even within one and the same tendency or sphere. Its central approach is deductive and empirical.
Projects in the field of linguistics often subscribe to either the quantitative or qualitative paradigm even though a closer examination would indicate that a large number of these studies are somewhere between these two ends of the continuum (Miles & Huberman, 1994). In both applied linguistics and sociolinguistics there is a lot of work on the value of combining either direct or indirect data gathering methods or applying different techniques for data analysis. The current work of Tashakkori and Teddlie (2003) suggests that mixed methods provide answers to research questions which otherwise could not be answered in any other way. Research in sociolinguistics has shown that combined usage of methods can bring in more light on different layers of meanings (Holmes, 2007).
It needs to be noted that research methods and techniques used in any research project depend upon the question and the focus of the researcher. Nevertheless, this may suggest a more instrumental stance which does not always capture the philosophical and conceptual underpinning as well as theoretical debates and complexities of the approach researchers choose, thus reducing it to what works. Even though the uneasiness deriving from a what-works position is mainly straightforward, the extent to which it is relevant to the mixed methods paradigm is debatable.
Another important issue that is often discussed in association with mixed method research is the compatibility and transferability of various paradigms and methodologies within and across different disciplinary and epistemological communities. While there is a growing consensus that combining approaches is not only feasible but also beneficial in revealing different methods and types of ‘reality’ (Lazaraton in Litosseliti, 2010), this is an open question as to whether many methods and types of research would comfortably sit under the same design. The question, then, is not whether the two sorts of data and associated methods can be linked during the study design, but whether it should be done, how it should be done and for what purposes (Miles and Huberman in ibid.).
A growing number of researchers have consistently argued for adopted approaches which attempt to integrate quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis, using the patterns identified by the quantitative analysis as essential background to assist in the detailed qualitative interpretation of the discourse.
7.1.1 Quantitative and Qualitative Research
The aim of qualitative research is to understand and view reality from the researcher’s perspective. The qualitative research method emphasizes the study of subjects holistically (or participants as they are now more commonly referred to, implying more interaction between perspectives and experiences) rather than the generalization of the results. Therefore, the main purpose is to compile a body of knowledge that is unique to an individual case or specific context. There is a range of qualitative methods for data elicitation, but generally, the two most frequently used methods are observations and interviews. In qualitative research, the research design focuses on participation and interaction with individuals or groups of people. Furthermore, it provides rich, context-bounded and naturalistic information. If it has an ethnographic emphasis, it aims to understand and interpret participants’ interpretations of their social worlds.
In contrast, quantitative research refers to the implementation of measurements and in gathering and analysing them assigns numerical values to the research subjects or to their attitude, opinions, and other attributes. It involves several data gathering and analytical methods such as survey techniques, experiments, structured observations, content analyses and parametric and non-parametric statistical analyses. It emphasizes causality, measurement and generalizability (Bryman, 1992).
Both quantitative and qualitative paradigms rely on different epistemologies. Furthermore, both of them provide different kinds of data and lead to selective and limited information. Each type of method serves research purposes with different data that are used to explain particular sides of a subject or reality. This is also the main limitation of relying on a single type of data. Therefore, a combination of both qualitative and quantitative methods in the same research project is desirable.
Due to the call for multimethod approach, Denzin (in Niglas; 2000) developed the concept of triangulation. This method uses multiple sources of data collection and provides a deeper
understanding of social phenomena. Therefore, triangulation can be a solid alternative to single-method validation, provided that data sources are comparable or that data collection procedures focus on some common or comparable area. Moreover, it extends the quality of data and trustworthiness of results.
Denzin (in ibid.) has clearly identified four different types of triangulation:
a. Data triangulation – the use of variety of data sources and data sets in a study. Data may be both qualitative and quantitative, gathered by different methods or by the same method from different sources or at different times.
b. Investigator triangulation – the use of several different researchers. Here the importance of partnership and teamwork is underlined as the way of bringing in different perspectives.
c. Theory triangulation – the use of different theoretical viewpoints for determining competing hypotheses as well as for interpreting the single set of data.
d. Methodological triangulation – the use of multiple methods to study a single problem or phenomenon. It may also include the use of the same method on different occasions and situations.
Patton (1990) adds one more suggestion – the analyst triangulation which would mean the use and cooperation of multiple analysts to review findings. However, combining methods in this way invokes other difficulties, such as greater commitment of researchers’ and participants’ time and effort, and the need to master more methods and to ensure methodological compatibility of focus and object.
7.2 First Research Attempts 7.2.1 Magazines
Having read through several books on language and gender issues, the first attempt to carry out the research was via the use of popular magazines for women and men (Women’s Health and Men’s Health). The aim was to collect every published 2010 issue and focus on articles which were divided into four categories – sex relationships, health, nutrition and fitness.
After analysing several articles, two preliminary results were introduced which were of no significant value (due to the aims of the research):
a. Both magazines used colloquial expressions equally – wanna, gotta.
b. There was no proper grammar following grammatical rules – it is changes in word order, questions without the use of auxiliary verbs, no full negative forms.
The results were not satisfactorily enough as there were almost no sex differences in the written form of language.
One of the reasons may be the fact that printed language is carefully chosen and peer reviewed and the choice of linguistic means is adjusted to the general audience, be it women or men.
The second reason why there may be no differences is the nature of magazines. These types of magazines do not need Tiigh 10/ of their readers so the language may be loose, neither strict nor direct, i.e. not very conservative.
After a deeper analysis, another a much more serious problem arose – the sex question. Articles represent a sample of written language with carefully chosen words and structures for specific purposes – to inform, to persuade, and to amuse. However, the sex of authors who wrote the articles was unknown and therefore all the results were irrelevant and the whole research repelled.
On the other hand, one interesting result is worth mentioning – reference to Intelligentsia’. Both magazines included interviews with professionals from various areas – doctors, sportsmen and sportswomen, entrepreneurs, etc. The main difference was in the way they were referred to. While quoting a woman, her title was mentioned first, name came second. While quoting a man, name came first and title second. After finding several instances of the mentioned case, the ‘quoting manner’ evoked a feeling as if educated women were not common and therefore to place a title (or job position as for instance manager, or neurologist) before the name was important in order to inform that the woman being interviewed was not only someone who had just left her kitchen, figuratively speaking, but someone who was intelligent and did something more than only washing, ironing and vacuum cleaning. The ‘quoting manner’ of men was somewhat different. Name which in fact denoted the person’s sex was more important than the title. It may be inferred that whatever title or position a man
had, due to his sex his opinions and ideas were ‘more acceptable’ for the society therefore any reference to the title was unimportant.
It needs to be noted that the quoting manner results were analysed on a small number of examples and therefore any generalization would be inappropriate. However, title reference to sex may be an interesting area of future studies.
The discourse of “printed language” (Vachek, 1967), which may be found in magazines, newspapers or leaflets, needs a much more in-depth analysis with different research strategies and methods than the spoken language. Furthermore, the sex of the authors is hidden; therefore, whatever results would be gained, they might be either irrelevant or not reliable. However, I admit a study of written language and gender may be carried out if, for instance, a group of people, men and women alike, were asked to write an essay on a given topic – both groups should write at the same time and at the same place and they should not be informed in advance, otherwise they may come prepared for ‘testing’. Such a testing may be performed in a class, for example, where the aspect of age may be analysed as well.
7.2.2 Presidential and Vice – Presidential Debates
After realising the inappropriateness of research materials, it was politics which attracted my attention. I believed and hoped this area would provide materials with the help of which it would be possible to perform the research itself.
Politics is a field where men rule. The participation of women is low and it is believed that to be a female politician is a very difficult position. A woman who is still seen as a sexual object needs to ‘fight’ more than her male counterparts. Therefore, I assumed the sex-language difference would be more notable.
A preliminary research in the field was carried out on the basis of presidential elections in Slovakia in 2009. Presidential candidates represented the appropriate sample for the research as one of the candidates was Iveta Radicova and Ivan Gasparovic as her counterpart. Four TV discussions were recorded and analysed with the following results:
a. Iveta Radicova – fluent turns without signs of hesitations, no digress from the subject, she talked to the point; the answers were quick and diplomatic without significant
grammatical mistakes; speech was pure without slang or colloquial expressions; no interruptions from her side, b. Ivan Gasparovic – “time-consuming” replies (it took longer time to answer); hesitations and grammatical mistakes; digress from the subject; speech contained slang and colloquial expressions; interruptions.
After performing the initial research, it was concluded that political discourse seemed suitable for a further analysis in which the aspect of gender represents the most important variable.
Throughout the course of American political history, no female candidate took part in presidential elections. However, there were two cases of vice-presidential debates with female politicians – 1984 Geraldine Ferraro and George Bush and 2008 Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. Unfortunately, the research materials drawn from these debates showed themselves as inappropriate for the candidates knew what questions to expect; their answers were preplanned, the material lacked the character of spontaneity.
Due to these findings, a different type of research material had to be found and chosen – press briefings. They seemed to be the most appropriate and most suitable as briefings represent a form of interviews where the respondents are not aware of the questions.
7.3 Research Design – Press Briefings
In order to conduct the research, the following steps were applied:
1. Aims of the research and hypotheses
4. Data collection
5. Data analysis
7.3.1 Aims and Hypotheses
Based on the data (Vol. II), the first aim of the research was to either confirm or refute the theory of female linguistic powerlessness and male linguistic powerfulness.
Not only do authors like Holmes, Tannen, Cameron and Lakoff claim that women talk more, but also neurobiologists support this idea due to biological and physiological differences in women and men. Therefore, the second aim of the research was to analyse whether women talk more than men, i.e. to analyse wording.
Due to the above mentioned aims and literature which was used in order to better understand the given issue, the following hypotheses were stated:
HYPOTHESIS 1: Political discourse of female politicians will show no marks of verbal weakness or powerlessness. Women want to be treated as equal partners; therefore, they will use more persuasive and argumentative strategies.
Despite the fact that women are still regarded as subordinate human beings (in some cultures and work fields) the type of discourse does not allow them to reflect marks of powerless language. Politics is a field where women have to be verbally well-equipped if they want to persuade their counterparts and third parties.
According to statistical data (UNESCO, WCF Foundation), the number of women actively engaged in politics is low. If they want to pass a law or act, they need to speak better, use more persuasive strategies and be well prepared for press briefings and meetings.
HYPOTHESIS 2: Except argumentative strategies mentioned in Hypothesis 1, women will help themselves with a number of adjectives and adverb whereas men’s turns will be short, strict and direct.
As already mentioned in the theoretical part, women hedge more, use more correct grammar and use empty adjectives. In order to confirm or refute this hypothesis, a special attention will be paid to the use of adjectives and adverbs.
Politics is mainly a domain for men; therefore, it may be inferred that in order to express their opinions, views and ideas men’s turns will be shorter than those of women. Their speech will be direct with signs of authoritativeness.
7.3.2 Research Strategy, Sampling, Collection and Analysis
The research will follow the rules of two strategies – statistical survey, and case study.
There are two types of statistical surveys, a numerical and a categorical one. For the purposes of the present research emphasis will be put on the categorical statistical survey. This method will be applied mainly while confirming or refuting HYP 2 where the categorization of persuasive strategy via the use of adjectives and adverbs will be essential.
Case study as a research strategy will focus on investigating a phenomenon within its real-life context, i.e. press briefings with journalists. The principle of causality performed within this type of strategy aims at explaining the possible reasons of variations and how these variations differ in women and men.
The necessity for a representative sample stems from two issues:
a. No one can test the entire population because even the smallest population would take too long to recruit and test.
b. Most researchers seek general conclusions that apply to a population and not just to a few individuals.
The nature of linguistic data important for the research represents documentary and selective character of samples – documentary because all the data were taken from a specific source and selective because the data tend to represent language used by political leaders.
The starting point of the interest in dealing with differences in female and male language goes back to the United States where the very first research was carried out and the results were published. Furthermore, the basic theories serving for further research were introduced here. Based on these facts, the research was carried out on American political leaders of both sexes.
The very first thing prior to the research was to define the person of a political leader – who the person is and what the criteria for saying whether the given person is or is not a political leader are. Internet provided several definitions of the term:
a. http://www.answers.com/topic/politician – one who is actively involved in politics, especially party politics; one who holds or seeks a political office
b. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/politician – a person actively engaged in politics, especially a full-time professional member of a deliberative assembly; a person who is experienced or skilled in the art or science of politics, government, or administration; a person who engages in politics out of wish for personal gain, as realized by holding a public office
c. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politician – a person involved in influencing public policy and decision making. This includes people who hold decision-making positions in government, and people who seek those positions, whether by means of election, inheritance, coup d’etat, appointment, electoral fraud, conquest, divine right, or other mean
To summarize the above mentioned definitions, for the purposes of the research a politician will be “a person actively engaged in politics, a full-time professional member of a deliberative assembly who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making. This person seeks their position in government by means of election, inheritance, coup d’etat, appointment, electoral fraud, conquest, divine right, or other mean. ”
Internet sources provide a wide range of political speeches; however, the majority of them represent pre-written or pre-planned discourse which is later introduced to the public in a speech form. As the aim is not to analyse the written discourse (e.g. word order, questions, grammar, etc.) these materials were irrelevant. A spontaneously used language in action was needed.
The second problem arose after finding samples of spoken language on www.youtube.com -not full-length interviews interesting for the research were provided; there were only parts of them. This data, again, was not relevant for the research.
Finally, the www.presidency.ucsb.edu webpage provides “printed discourse” (Vachek, 1976) of every press briefing held in the White House. The data found there represented the type of data important for and relevant to the research. In addition, it contained materials dealing not only with the present political situation in the United States but also with the history of American politics.
The webpage provides full transcripts of press briefings out of which those from year 2010 were selected (as the magazines of that year were found irrelevant). After reviewing all the briefings, only those were considered which included political leaders based on the earlier
provided definition. Briefings attended only by the press secretary, advisors, presidents and vice-presidents of corporations were due to their status beyond the scope of the present study.
Ten press briefings were selected:
1. January 7 – Press Briefing by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
2. March 26 – Press Briefing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen on the Announcement of the New START Treaty
3. April 14 – Briefing by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner
4. April 27 – Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
5. May 6 – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin
6. June 16 – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey, National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner
7. June 17 – Press Briefing by Vice President Joe Biden and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
8. June 26 – Press Briefing by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner
9. August 13 – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
10. December 16 – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and General James Cartwright
All briefings were downloaded and adjusted for the purposes of the research (Vol. II). Preplanned, i.e. introductory speeches were erased as well as journalists’ questions and comments. Sex of the politicians was marked by colours – red for women and green for men.
While working on the research, a problem arose with the percentage of speeches being examined. Only two female politicians were involved in press briefings (Hillary R. Clinton and Janet Napolitano) whereas on the side of men the number was higher – seven male
politicians (Robert Gates, Timthy Geithner, Joe Biden, Stuart Levey, Neal Wolin, Tom Wilsack, and John Brennan). As the results from such a research would be inadequate; a further selection was required.
Table 4: Selection of Samples
7/1 26/3 14/4 27/4 6/5 16/6 17/6 26/6 13/8 16/12
He X X X X X X
Both X X X
The table shows the proportion of political leaders taking part in press briefings. As seen, men were involved in political briefings more often than women. In order to select a representative sample, except the criterion of briefing participation another factor was important – who was there and how much did the person say.
Three briefings were attended by both, a male and a female politician alike:
a. 7 January – Janet Napolitano and John Brennan
b. 16 March – Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates
c. 16 December – Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates
Out of the remaining seven briefings, there was one attended by a woman (Janet Napolitano) and the remaining six were attended by men (Vilsack, Wolin, Biden, and Geithner three times).
In order for the research to be subjective, from the “duet briefings” two were selected (both briefings with Clinton and Gates) – same participants so a further comparison and analysis could be carried out.
Two samples were selected from the “single briefings”, namely Geithner’s briefing (14 April) and Napolitano’s briefing (13 August). The most important criterion for selecting the appropriate sample was wording, i. e. similar number of words was required.
Following the above mentioned criteria, the final sample is as follows:
a. 26 March, 2010-Clinton and Gates
b. 14 April, 2010 – Geithner
c. 13 August, 2010 – Napolitano
d. 16 December, 2010 – Clinton and Gates
8 FINDINGS AND INTERPRETATIONS 8.1 Hypothesis 1 – Powerless Language
Following the fact that women have been regarded as the weaker sex in society for a long time (even in English-speaking countries, which hold the claim that all people are created equal), linguistic discrimination against women exists. The bias may be rooted in society sharing the idea that it is men who are considered the norm for the human species: their characteristics, thoughts, beliefs and actions are viewed as fully representing those of all humans, males and females alike.
This practice can either make women invisible in language or exclude them. Authors like Lakoff, or Tannen talk about powerless language whereas Spender (1980) goes even further and uses the term deviations.
Bamberger (2010) argues that powerless language is represented by words lacking commitment, conviction, intent of focused action, and purposefulness. During his observations he collected several words and phrases which show a sign of linguistic powerlessness:
a. But = negates everything that was said before
b. Try = there is no intention behind the word; one will not expend effort to accomplish their goal
c. Don’t = “people focus on what they don’t want in order to narrow down their scope to get what they do want. The key here, in the end, is to focus on what you DO want” (Bamberger, 2010)
d. Should = it has two aspects; the first when used in past (e.g. 1 should have done this’) represents self-defeating thinking whereas saying 1 should do this’ is very similar to the second mentioned word which is “try”
e. Modal auxiliary verbs need to, have to, could
f. Phrases like perhaps, possibly, potentially, I think
As politics is a powerful tool used to inform, persuade and in some instances even manipulate, the language in its discourse, be it a man’s or a woman’s, should not show any of the above mentioned signs of powerlessness.
Based on the theoretical information, political discourse uses several ways of persuasive strategies – argumentation, repetition, positive self-presentation, negative they-presentation, personal opinions, rhetorical questions, personification, humour and pronouns. The strategy of argumentation showed a high percentage in the given sample; therefore, the primary focus was put on this type of strategy.
According to the online Merriam Webster dictionary the act of argumentation means forming reasons and drawing conclusions. However, the analysis of the samples showed that if we call argumentation a category, it may further be divided into four different sub-categories -appeal to authorities and colleagues, clarifications, exemplifications and repetitions. At this point it is important to note repetition here is understood based on its contextual function, not on the lexical one. The term repetition used in this sense refers to things which have already been said, i.e. the person “goes back to the already mention facts” and therefore repetition should not be seen as a persuasive strategy on its own (as literature says) but it should be covered by the umbrella term argumentation.
Table 5: Category of Argumentation
Means of Argumentation
Appeal to authorities and colleagues (comments 119, 130, 563, 867) Clarifications (comments 627, 193, 583) Exemplifications (8,35, 115) Repetition (461,734, 110)
Examples of appeals to authorities and colleagues
Comment 563: … And that op-ed, which the President has endorsed, laid out really what the framework for the immigration bill should be. (Clinton)
Comment 960: … and I think the President and each of us have alluded to some of the signposts of that progress. (Clinton)
Comment 102: When we have the strategic dialogue meetings that include Secretary Clinton and myself, and did include Ambassador Holbrooke and Chairman Mullen … (Gates)
Comment 458: The President has said from the beginning that immigration reform is a priority for him. (Napolitano)
Examples of clarifications and exemplifications
Comment 627: … particularly the East side of the state, which is known as the Tucson sector. (Napolitano)
Comment 8: … last three major nuclear arms treaties, the SORT Treaty of 2003, 95-0; START I Treaty, 1992, 93-6; the INF Treaty, 1988, 93-5. (Clinton)
Comment 115: … they don’t have the confidence of the international community in their ambitions, like Iran and North Korea, … (Clinton)
Examples of repetitions
Comment 1101: … But as I mentioned in my opening remarks and as Secretary Clinton referred to…
Out of 74 argumentative cases it was women’s language which was more persuasive; women used 52 strategies (70,3%) whereas men only 22 (29,7%). The exact numbers and their percentage are shown in the following Table 6.
Table 6: Persuasive Strategies
Appeal to authorities and colleagues 17 (23%) 10(13,5%)
Clarifications 20 (27%) 3 (4,1%)
Exemplifications 13 (17,6%) 7 (9,5%)
Repetition 2 (2,7%) 2 (2,7%)
A very interesting result arose from positive self-presentation but not via the use of pronouns such as “we” and “us”. Positive self-presentation was introduced by portraying a good image about the politician. Seven examples were found in the research materials and all of them belonged to Napolitano. Whenever it was possible and whenever the topic allowed her to do so, she referred to her past experience and proved that not only was she a theoretical person but also a practical one.
Example (Comment 632)
“You know, when I was the U.S. attorney, I supervised the prosecution of at least 6,000 immigration felonies. This is an area I know quite well. And I will tell you there has never been a greater federal presence at this border. So the factual premise for the bill was wrong.” (Press Briefing 13 August, 2010)
The second thing worth mentioning is what I called the “call a friend” strategy (based on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire), i.e. to invite someone who is more educated in the field or whose knowledge is better. This “call a friend” strategy occurred once, namely with Clinton. The briefing held on 26 March 2010 was also attended by Under Secretary Tauscher who was invited by Clinton. When asked a question, Clinton gave the floor to Tauscher and asked her to reply the question.
Example (Comment 139)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Major, if I could – Robert, could I ask Under Secretary Tauscher to address this? MR. GIBBS: …
SECRETARY CLINTON: Just fresh from Geneva. (Press Briefing 26 March, 2010)
As regards to the use of modal auxiliary verbs and phrases expressing personal opinions, the present research does not show that these strategies represent marks of powerlessness. On the contrary, modal auxiliary verbs are used to express “political politeness”. They also function as “advisory means” expressing what should or should not be done. Moreover, they force people to think about the issues introduced by modal auxiliary verbs and in this way any politician may give hints or suggestions for future discussion. In other words, if a politician wants people to talk and think about something, the function of modal verbs seems to be important. The study of should, have to or need to was beyond the scope of the present study.
Other aspects of argumentative strategies (humour, pronouns, rhetorical questions) were not relevant due to the character of the study.
An observation worth mentioning arose from a comparison of both dual briefings held on 26 March, 2010 and 16 December, 2010. Both press interviews were attended by the same participants, Clinton and Gates. There were no differences in the persuasive and argumentative strategies used in the speeches; however, there was a difference in the percentage of their use. While on 26, March 2010 it was Clinton who explained and clarified more (9 cases out of 10, i.e. 90% of all clarifications were hers), on 16 December, 2010 it was Gates who used this strategy in higher proportion – out of 25 cases he clarified, explained and exemplified in 15 cases, which represented 60% of all clarifications provided. It may be assumed that he regarded Clinton as a strong counterpart and after the first briefing in March; therefore, it may be assumed he prepared himself better for the next press conference.
Based on the above mentioned results the political discourse of female politicians tends to be stronger and richer in the use of arguments, clarifications, exemplifications, repetitions and past practice references. It may be caused by the fact of the social status of women as weaker sex and therefore female politicians may feel it is their “duty” to come well prepared to a press briefing (whenever Clinton attended the conference, she was very exact, direct and provided examples of treaties, names and places).
Looking back at the FIRST HYPOTHESIS claiming that the political discourse of female politicians would show no marks of verbal weakness or powerlessness and that women will use more persuasive and argumentative strategies in their discourse was, with the help of the samples, CONFIRMED.
8.2 Hypothesis 2 – Wording
First studies dealing with the language of women and men carried out by Lakoff showed over 20 differences. Studies performed in the 1990s resulted in a lower percentage of “digressions” from the male norm; however, the case with adjectives and adverbs remained
the same. It is still believed that it is women not men who use more “empty” words in their speeches, generally speaking, women are able to talk much but say nothing.
The second hypothesis claimed that except the persuasive strategies introduced in Hypothesis 1, women would help themselves with a number of empty adjectives and adverbs and men’s turns would be shorter and more direct.
In order to confirm or refute the hypothesis, the following working strategy was applied:
a. Analysing the number of words per turn, per speech and total for both women and men.
b. Comparing the results.
c. Shortening the turns via the omission of extra adjectives, adverb, or phrases on the condition of not changing the meaning of the original turn.
d. Comparing the results.
e. Interpreting findings.
Counting the words and later comparison of gained the results showed that politically active women tend to use more empty words than men and in this way they increase the number of wording. As political speeches, written or spoken, should be very clear and direct, this finding may sound surprising. On the other hand, a higher percentage of wording by women may be caused by a higher proportion of clarifications and exemplifications which are needed and, according to the results supporting the first hypothesis, for women essential, wanted and required.
The process of shortening is illustrated in the following examples (words and phrases which were erased or adjusted are in bold).
Example 1 (Press Briefing 13 August, 2010)
“The review is not complete yet. I don’t have a completion date, but it’s something we’re tracking out of our headquarters. I think we want to know the same thing than the public wants to know. Why was this individual with two DUIs in his past out on the road? And we want to make sure that the directives that we have issued since this individual entered the immigration system, that the directives would make sure that somebody like this would not be released onto the road.” (Napolitano; WORDS 87)
The review hasn’t been completed yet. I don’t have a completion date but it’s something we’re tracking out of headquarters. I think we want to know the same thing as the public does. Why was this person with two DUIs in past out on the road? We want to make sure the directives we have issued since the person entered the immigration system would make sure somebody like they would not be released onto the road.
WORDS: 76 (-11 words; reduction by 12,6%)
Grammar correction (hasn’t been completed) Word change (person, this person) Avoiding sexism
Example 2 (Press Briefing 16 December, 2010)
“I think we’ve been very conscientious all along in terms of trying to be realistic about the prospects, and I think that those of you who have listened to General Petraeus’s briefings, those of you who have talked to us, I hope see that we’ve tried to be realistic in terms of identifying the challenges as well as the successes. The challenges clearly are governance issues, civilian capacity, the Pakistani safe havens. But what — the main purpose of this review was for us to identify those areas where we think we have concerns, where we’re not progressing as fast as we would like to be so that we can focus on those in the months to come. The whole purpose of this review was not to relitigate the entire strategy but rather to say, how’s it going and where is it going as well or better than we like, but where is it not? And then — so we can focus our attention and our resources on addressing those shortcomings.” (Geithner; WORDS 171)
I think we’ve been conscientious along in terms of trying to be realistic about the prospects, and those who have listened to General Petraeus’s briefings and talked to us, I hope see we’ve tried to be realistic in terms of identifying the challenges and successes. The challenges are governance issues, civilian capacity, the Pakistani safe havens. The main purpose of this review was to identify areas where we think we have concerns, where we’re not progressing as fast as we would like to be so that we can focus on those in the months to come. The purpose of the review was not to relitigate the strategy but to say, how’s it going and where is it going and or better than we like, but where is it not? So we can focus our attention and resources on addressing those shortcomings.
WORDS: 141 (-30 words;, reduction by 17,5%)
Shortening was done via the omission of “redundant” words and phrases, i.e. words without which the meaning of the utterance would remain the same. Moreover, self-corrections and vocabulary (in some instances) were also adjusted for the purposes of the present research. The results of shortened speeches are as follow:
Table 6 Number of words – female and male political leaders
TOTAL AVERAGE PER TURN
26 March, 2010 Clinton Original 1756 Short 1487 Reduction 15,3% 159, 53 155,66
Gates Original 467 Short 363 Reduction 22,3% 135,18 121
14 April, 2010 Geithner Original 2789 Short 2443 Reduction 12,4% 99,6 87,25
13 August, 2010 Napolitano Original 3052 Short 2560 Reduction 16,2% 75,4 59,8
16 December, 2010 Clinton Original 1915 Short 1632 Reduction 14,8% 319,2 272
Gates Original 1941 Short 1597 Reduction 17,7% 194,1 159,7
WOMEN Original 6723 Short 5679 REDUCTION 15,5%
MEN Original 5197 Short 4403 REDUCTION 15,3%
As seen from the result, the differences were not very significant – women’s speech was reduced by 15,5% and men’s speech by 15,3%. The result may be influenced by the total number of words used by women and men, i. e. the length of their speeches was not the same.
The next step of the research was the analysis of adjectives and adverbs used in the materials. It is commonly known that they are used in order to intensify – the quality of intensification was beyond the scope of the study.
In language, intensification may be performed by two types of means – linguistic and paralinguistic means. The latter is represented by paralanguage which deals with any aspect of vocal behaviour which can be seen as meaningful but is not described as part of the language system. The main function of paralinguistic means is to accent the utterance, it is to give prominence to a particular sentence element. In written language it may be performed by graphic devices (asterisk, italics, quotation marks) and in spoken language it may be performed by prosodic features (stress, pitch, intonation).
A special focus was put on linguistic means which were used for the emphasizing purposes. Analysing the samples, emphasis was performed by three big categories – lexical means, grammatical means and syntactical means. All of these were further divided into several subcategories.
1. Lexical means
i. Adjective + adverb
ii. Adverb + adverb
2. Grammatical means
a. Use of articles
c. Auxiliary verb (AV) “DO”
3. Combined means
a. Lexical + grammatical means
4. Syntactical means
a. Use of correlative conjunctions (CC)
b. Changes in word order (WO)
Table 7: Linguistic means with emphasizing function
Lexical Grammatical Combined Syntactical
simple compound repetition articles “DO” Prepositional Lex.+ Gr. WO CC
Adj. Adv.+adj. The
Adv. Adv.+ adv A Pr. Num.
Examples of lexical means (the complete analysis of lexical means can be found in Vol.11)
a. comment 320: There is a long list of areas … (adjective)
b. comment 301: I think we’re in a good position to get there … (adjective)
c. comment 294: …we want to move quickly and we want (adverb)
d. comment 390: … this debate in the public eye, was very important… (adverb)
e. comment 388: … the first nine months of this debate (pronoun)
f. comment 441: … is to talk about this bill (pronoun)
g. comment 6: … if you look at the last three major nuclear arms treaties … (numeral)
h. comment 132: … In terms of going to nuclear — to zero nuclear weapons (numeral)
a. Comment 24: This is a very complex relationship … (adverb+ adjective)
b. Comment 183: Because the President acted so forcefully initially, (adverb+ adverb)
Comment 30: … that President Obama and President Medvedev announced Comment 601: … if you’re going to increase efforts on border security, if you’re going to increase efforts on removing and deporting criminal aliens and the like…
Examples of grammatical means
a. Comment 223: Well, again, the basic principle for us is going to be to make sure people understand that we will not leave the taxpayer exposed…
b. Comment 210: And we do not want to have the American taxpayer ever be in a position again where they’re forced to choose between putting billions of dollars …
c. Comment 123: … very strong leadership position to make the case about an Iran, about a North Korea …
2. Auxiliary “do ” (only 3 cases)
a. Comment 633: I did meet with Governor Brewer in Boston during the NGA
b. Comments 777, 1023
a. Comment 46 – in the best interest of both of our countries
b. Comment 261 – We did not take on the broad question of reform
Examples of combined means
Comment 970: … how we were doing aid to be much more responsive… Comment 751: … has taken longer and been more difficult
Examples of syntactic means
Comment 90: Europe safer from what are the real threats that are out there… (question word order in a declarative sentence)
Comment 103: the Cold War really is behind us and… (change in word order – the Cold War is really behind us …)
Comment 825: we had to not only continue, but we had to adopt a new strategy, we had to resource … (correlative conjunction
Comment 968: not only the people of Pakistan but also to our strategy, because we had adopted an approach… (correlative conjunction)
Comment 1077: … and on Afghan capabilities, both military and civilian, (correlative conjunction)
A very special case as regards to the syntactic means was the use of the so-called “Introductory it” and “Wh- clauses” at the position of subjects (e.g. comments 162, 433, 435, 784, 854 – all are under the same umbrella term “introductory it”).
Another aspect worth mentioning is the use of full forms of negatives (e.g. comments 209, 259, 270, 362).
It is important to note the above mentioned structures are not used only to emphasize “the quality of utterance”. In many cases they are used in order to clarify and to specify certain information. Looking at them from the intensity scale point of view, they may be either negative (e.g. bad, not appropriate, not worth – used in the speeches), positive (good, mutual, beneficial – used in the speeches), or neutral. Therefore, it has to be added that the functions of phrases overlap; there is no clear cut between them.
The precise function of the structures introductory “it”, full forms of negative, and expressing intensity was beyond the scope of the present research.
Going back to the SECOND HYPOTHESIS stated at the beginning of the chapter, i. e. that women would help themselves with a higher number of empty adjectives and adverbs and men’s turns would be shorter and more direct, it may be assumed that based on the research samples female politicians tend to use more phrases and structures in order to persuade their counterparts and audiences; therefore, the hypothesis is CONFIRMED.
Making any generalization of the differences in the political discourse of women and men would simply be inappropriate – at this point. Language as well as gender differences are culture specific; therefore, linguistic means applied in speeches of American political leaders, for example, do not necessarily have to correspond with those used in Chinese political discourses. Furthermore, the research was carried out on a very carefully selected sample. In order to be able to generalize the results, a larger sample of female and male politicians would be required. To examine the changes, samples collected from more years are inevitable.
In conclusion, Lakoff was right when claiming there were differences in female and male language; however, these cannot be and should not be regarded as deviations from the male norm (as Spender called it). Female and male political leaders in the United States have the tendency to use language differently.
Women seem to talk more; thus, the higher proportion of wording appears to be the result of the use of arguments, clarification and explanations. They tend to use more linguistic means with emphasizing function (adjective, adverb, correlative conjunctions) as these may help, in a way, their utterances.
On the contrary, men’s turns were shorter and more direct, which may indicate their position in society. As mentioned several times, men are regarded as leaders and therefore any effort to help themselves via the use of language seems not essential. However, in comparison with women the proportion of self-correction is higher in men than women.
9 SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
While working with the research material, several areas worth mentioning and worth dealing with “popped up”.
One of the strategies politicians use is the “WE” group reference. According to the literature which was used for the purposes of the given dissertation thesis, the pronoun is used to refer to “us” as a group. However, it appears that “WE” may have three different functions – WE as the nation, WE as our political party, and WE as politicians. A very similar case is with the use of “YOU” pronoun.
Bamberger (2010) claims that the use of modal auxiliary verbs is a sign of powerlessness. In the political discourse such a use may represent politeness and alternatives of possible actions (see Hypothesis 1) but it may be an interesting area of study. .
As far as the lexical level, it would be good to study the use of nouns denoting enemies or citizens which are not wanted in the country and who should be expelled. The most appropriate example that shows what politicians may think, or probably think, of these civilians is the turn of Napolitano when asked about her opinion on immigration and immigrants: “Why was this individual with two DUIs in his past out on the road? And we want to make sure that the directives that we have issued since this individual entered the
immigration system, that the directives would make sure that somebody like this would not be released onto the road. ” (Comments 571-574)
The present study aimed at analysing language patterns of powerlessness while talking about women working in fields or at positions which are male dominant. In the future, it may be worth trying to analyse the language used by men in a typical feminized area (for examples, primary school education is highly feminized). The language – gender question may also be studied with the help of materials where only one sex is present; the study of particular linguistic means used only by women and separately by men. In connection with debates, woman-woman and man-man language may also be worth noting.
As regards to the situational context of speeches, as every reply is a reaction to a stimulus, the study or familiarity (i.e. a very friendly approach to journalists; e.g. comments 2, 56, 156, 160) and humour (e.g. comments 157, 53, 1053) while leading a political press briefing is suggested..
What was surprising in the materials was the use of British form of the modal auxiliary verb “must”; i.e. “have got to” (e.g. comments 254, 290).
From the morphological point of view the study of articles seems appropriate for with some militant groups and organizations the article was used and with some it was not.
Another point of interest may be the use of tenses, namely the different use of past and past perfect tenses (e.g. comments 508, 568, 761).
Other topics which should be considered for further research involve the study of function and use of hedges in political speeches (according to the sample studied in the research, women seem to hedge more than men), political linguistic politeness, expressing personal opinions, patriotism (which is very common on other American speeches), or the study of evoking the past (“the fathers” of the nation).
Politics is a very wide field; therefore, to focus only on one aspect of the language used in political discourse is impossible. Studying the language of politicians may help not only them to improve and add value to their speeches, but it may also help laymen to distinguish between the “true” and “false” language.
The given doctoral thesis entitled “Differences in the Political Discourse of Female and Male Politicians” aimed at analysing language in a very specific field, politics. The main objective was to find out whether female and male political leaders’ speeches are same or different.
The thesis was divided into two parts, the theoretical and the practical part.
The first two chapters of the theoretical part, History of Feminism and Female Politics, dealt with the position of women in society (past, present and future) and representation of women in politics. Moreover, it gave a short overview of the latest situation of women in the Arab world. After the sociological part of the thesis, which was important due to the character of the work, three linguistic chapters followed. Language and Gender introduced the early studies in this area of sociolinguistics; sexism in language, and sex differences in communication of leaders. Moreover, the chapter aimed at reasoning the differences in language of women and men (biological differences, verbal differences, sociolinguistic reasons). The succeeding two chapters, Discourse and Discourse Analysis, and Language and Politics gave a brief overview of what discourse really is and means and what the main features of political discourses are. It also provides information on typical strategies used in the political discourse.
After the theoretical part, the chapter Methodology of Research dealt with the issue of sociolinguistic research and strategies used while studying the functions of language used in societies. Furthermore, it introduced the first research attempts which had been carried out before the main research was conducted. Probably the most important part of the whole chapter is the part which clarifies the exact objective of the research and introduced two hypotheses. Findings and Interpretations introduced the results which arose from the research and confirmed both hypotheses stated at the beginning of the study. As politics is a wide area and there are many topics for further studies and research, an additional chapter Suggestions of Further Research was added.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
The following glossary represents the most important terms for the purpose of the dissertation thesis.
Any coherent succession of sentences, spoken or written. Discourse Analysis
Effectively of any analysis of discourse. Originally applied by Zellig Harris, in the 1950s, to an attempt to analyse unites larger than words and sentences in the way that they themselves had been analysed. Subsequently of analyses with whatever motive: e.g. from the viewpoint of pragmatics; in studies of connections between sentences or clauses; of the use of vocabulary in relation to the political or other beliefs of speakers or writers.
Social movement that seeks equal rights for women. Widespread concern for women’s rights dates from the Enlightenment; one of the first important expressions of the movement was Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). The 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, convened by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and others, called for full legal equality with men, including full educational opportunity and equal compensation; thereafter the woman suffrage movement began to gather momentum. It faced particularly stiff resistance in the United Kingdom and the United States, where women gained the right to vote in 1918 and 1920, respectively. By mid-century a second wave of feminism emerged to address the limited nature of women’s participation in the workplace and prevailing notions that tended to confine women to the home. A third wave of feminism arose in the late 20th century and was notable for challenging middle-class white feminists and for broadening feminism’s goals to encompass equal rights for all people regardless of race, creed, economic or educational status, physical appearance or ability, or sexual preference. Equal Rights Amendment; women’s liberation movement.
A person whose beliefs and behaviour are based on feminism.
Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis
An approach to analysing intertextualised discourses in spoken interaction and other types of text. It draws upon the postructuralist principles of complexity, plurality, ambiguity, connection, recognition, diversity, textual playfulness, functionality and transformation. The feminist perspective on postructuralist discourse analysis considers gender differentiation to be a dominant discourse among competing discourses when analysing all types of text.
1) Grammatical category dividing nouns into classes basically characterizable by reference to sex. The division is therefore between masculine (characterized by nouns denoting males) and feminine (characterized by nouns denoting females), with neuter as the term for a third class characterized by neither. Often specifically called grammatical gender, to distinguish it as a grammatical category from natural gender, as defined by the notional categories partly corresponding to it.
2) General term imported from the social sciences for the sex or sexuality of human beings. Hence ‘gender difference’, of a difference in speech between men and women; ‘language and gender’, as a branch of sociolinguistics dealing with such differences.
Defined by features commoner in the speech of one sex than the other. Gender Stereotype
Gender stereotypes shape people’s behaviours, expectations, and roles; conversely, roles can become stereotypes. Women are also stereotyped as sex objects who pay significant attention to their physical appearance. Men are stereotyped as being rational and strong.
The phenomenon of vocal or written communication among human beings generally, again as in ordinary usage. Thus the subject-matter of linguistics includes both languages as a general property of our species and particular language.
Various aspects of political information processing. It deals with the acquisition, uses and structures of mental representations about political situations, events, actors and groups.
Language used in political speeches. The features of political discourse vary, as do its purposes. Its purpose may be to persuade voters with a party loyalty to turn out to vote, to move a floating voter’s party allegiance, or to make us adopt general political or social attitude, so we support a given policy.
Person actively engaged in politics, a full-time professional member of a deliberative assembly who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making. These people seek their positions in government by means of election, inheritance, coup d’etat, appointment, electoral fraud, conquest, divine right, or other mean.
Represents the way a research is carried out. There are two fundamental types of questions -what is going to be examined (descriptive research) and why it is going to be examined (explanatory research).
Term used to refer both to the two groups distinguished as males and females, and to the anatomical and physiological characteristics associated with maleness and femaleness.
Belief that one sex is superior to or more valuable than another sex. It imposes limits on what men and boys can and should do and what women and girls can and should do.
Roughly since the 1970s, certain established uses of language have come to be regarded as discriminatory against women, either because they are based on male terminology or because women appear to be given a status that is linguistically and socially subsidiary. Specific
aspects of this will be found at the entries for -ess, gender-neutrality, -man, ms, -person. Since the 1980s, many official style guides (including Judith Butcher’s Copy-editing, third edition, Cambridge, 1992) have included advice on how to avoid sexist language. In 1989 the General Synod of the Church of England debated a report on the need to introduce non-sexist language into the liturgy, and in the same year a revised version of the Bible substituted one for man in such contexts as Happy is the man who does not take the wicked for his guide. It is in the realm of idiom that male-biased language will most likely persist, since it is difficult to reconstruct without awkwardness or affectation such compound words and phrases as manpower, maiden voyage, every man for himself, and the man on the Clapham omnibus.
Method in research which uses multiple sources of data collection and provides a deeper understanding of social phenomena. There are four different types of triangulation – data, investigator, theory, and methodological triangulation.
The quality or state of being wordy, or abounding with words; verboseness.
LIST OF TABLES Table 1
Functions of tag questions according to Holmes 57 Table 2
Function of tag questions according to Coates/Cameron 58 Table 3
Results showing the percentage of boys and girls using each variant in each case 62 Table 4
Selection of Samples 10 Table 5
Category of argumentation 111 Table 6
Persuasive strategies 112 Table 7
Linguistic means with emphasizing function 119
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