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Similarities and Differences in Men’s and Women’s Cooperative Speaking Styles: An Analysis of Book Club Discussions

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  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Data and methods
  4. Findings
  5. Features
  6. Topicalizing
  7. Discussion
  8. Limitations
  9. Conclusion
  10. References

Some of the most frequently referred to but potentially erroneous stereotypes regarding gendered speaking style differences involve dichotomies. Men are competitive ? women are cooperative. Men focus on impersonal topics ? women focus on personal topics. Men's speech is to report ? women's speech is for rapport. The problem with these stereotypes is that language styles are not mutually exclusive to individual genders. Much of the past language and gender research has been based on analyzing these perceived dichotomies in an effort to challenge or corroborate the stereotypes. This research has shown that language styles are not exclusive to gender and more importantly it has brought to light the fact that language and gender cannot be studied in isolation from other social factors.

[...] Interactional There were some noticeable differences in the interactions between the men in the men's book club and the women in the women's book club, namely; the length of individual floor time and the number of simultaneous utterances. I noted floor time each time an individual spoke for three or more transcribed lines of text and simultaneous utterances were counted each time numerous members of the group spoke at once often in response to something one member had said. The results follow. [...]

[...] Data and Methods The data consists of two recordings; one of a men's book club meeting and one of women's book club meeting. Each recording has an analyzed running time of about 30 minutes. All members of both clubs agreed to the recording and had full knowledge that the meeting was being recorded. One member from each club recorded the sessions for me. My hope was that, if I was not present doing the recordings myself, the members would not focus on the fact that they were being recorded and the meetings would carry on as normal. [...]

[...] With additional examples from the funeral conversation, Coates points out that simultaneous speech among women should not be viewed as interruption but as another cooperative form of participating in a conversation and producing shared meaning. Coates states that, with this type of conversation overlap, it is not an attempt to take over a speakers turn as much as a way the listener shows their enthusiasm by participating with questions or comments. Finally, Coates defines epistemic modality as a linguistic form that is a type of hedge used to protect the speaker's and the listener's face. [...]

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