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Book ChapterDOI

The whole woman: Sex and gender differences in variation

01 Oct 1989-Language Variation and Change (Cambridge University Press)-Vol. 1, Iss: 3, pp 245-267
TL;DR: For instance, this paper found that many current beliefs about the role of gender in variation are a result of substituting popular (and unpopular) belief for social theory in the interpretation of patterns of sex correlations with variation.
Abstract: The tradition of large-scale survey methodology in the study of variation has left a gap between the linguistic data and the social practise that yields these data. Since sociolinguistic surveys bring away little information about the communities that produce their linguistic data, correlations of linguistic variants with survey categories have been interpreted on the basis of general knowledge of the social dynamics associated with those categories. The success of this approach has depended on the quality of this general knowledge. The examination of variation and socioeconomic class has been benefited from sociolinguists’ attention to a vast literature on class and to critical analyses of the indices by which class membership is commonly determined. The study of gender and variation, on the other hand, has suffered from the fact that the amount of scientific attention given to gender over the years cannot begin to be compared with that given to class. Many current beliefs about the role of gender in variation, therefore, are a result of substituting popular (and unpopular) belief for social theory in the interpretation of patterns of sex correlations with variation.

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Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: For the past 20 years or so, linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and feminist thinkers have explored many aspects of this question, including sexist, heterosexist, and racist language; interruptions; graffiti and street remarks; names and forms of address; politeness; tag questions; directives; motherese; children's talk during play; schoolroom discourse; bilingualism and language contact; metaphors; shifts in word meanings; the language of science, religion, and war; silence and volubility; intonation; emotional expressiveness
Abstract: How do gender and language interact? For the past 20 years or so, linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and feminist thinkers have explored many aspects of this question. There are now dozens of books and hundreds of course offerings on gender and language (14, 20, 41, 60, 67, 92, 98, 99), specialized articles are found in many journals and collections (15, 21, 59, 78, 87, 90, 109, 110, 115), and review articles continue to appear (8, 32, 47, 74, 76, 89). Topics treated include sexist, heterosexist, and racist language; interruptions; graffiti and street remarks; names and forms of address; politeness; tag questions; directives; motherese; children's talk during play; schoolroom discourse; bilingualism and language contact; metaphors; shifts in word meanings; the language of science, religion, and war; silence and volubility; intonation; emotional expressiveness; religious and political rhetoric; sociolinguistic variation; and language change. This list is far from comprehensive but its scatter suggests an absence of theoretical coherence in language and gender studies. Partial integration of the range of linguistic phenomena that seem sensitive to gender is sometimes attempted by trying to explain them all in terms of a

1,295 citations


Cites background from "The whole woman: Sex and gender dif..."

  • ...Eckert (26, 27) has expanded on this view, arguing that women are constrained in a variety of ways to accumulate symbolic capital more generally....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argue that the meanings of variables are not precise or fixed but rather constitute a field of potential meanings, any one of which can be activated in the situated use of the variable, and each new activation has the potential to change the field by building on ideological connections.
Abstract: This paper argues for a focus on the social meaning of variation, based in a study of stylistic practice. It is common in the study of variation to interpret variables as reflections of speakers’ membership in social categories. Others have argued more recently that variables are associated not with the categories themselves, but with stances and characteristics that constitute those categories. The paper reviews some variation studies that showthatvariablesdonothavestaticmeanings,butrathergeneralmeanings that become more specific in the context of styles. Building on Michael Silverstein’s notion of indexical order, I argue that the meanings of variables are not precise or fixed but rather constitute a field of potential meanings ‐ an indexical field, or constellation of ideologically related meanings, any one of which can be activated in the situated use of the variable. The field is fluid, and each new activation has the potential to change the field by building on ideological connections. Thus variation constitutes an indexical system that embeds ideology in language and that is in turn part and parcel of the construction of ideology.

1,167 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors found that women lead men in rejecting linguistic changes as they are recognized by the speech community, a differentiation that is maximal for the second highest status group, and that sexual differentiation is independent of social class at the beginning of a change, but that interaction develops gradually as social awareness of the change increases.
Abstract: Two general principles of sexual differentiation emerge from previous sociolinguistic studies: that men use a higher frequency of nonstandard forms than women in stable situations, and that women are generally the innovators in linguistic change. It is not clear whether these two tendencies can be unified, or how differences between the sexes can account for the observed patterns of linguistic change. The extensive interaction between sex and other social factors raises the issue as to whether the curvilinear social class pattern associated with linguistic change is the product of a rejection of female-dominated changes by lower-class males. Multivariate analysis of data from the Philadelphia Project on Linguistic Change and Variation indicates that sexual differentiation is independent of social class at the beginning of a change, but that interaction develops gradually as social awareness of the change increases. It is proposed that sexual differentiation of language is generated by two distinct processes: (1) for all social classes, the asymmetric context of language learning leads to an initial acceleration of female-dominated changes and retardation of male-dominated changes; (2) women lead men in the rejection of linguistic changes as they are recognized by the speech community, a differentiation that is maximal for the second highest status group.

1,012 citations


Cites background from "The whole woman: Sex and gender dif..."

  • ...It follows that an intervening variable must be formulated in terms of distinct cultural roles assumed by male and female members of society (Eckert, 1989a)....

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  • ...Eckert (1989a) showed that girls were in advance of boys for the same three variables , though not for the more recent shifts of (e) and (A)....

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  • ...The most recent general treatment of the sexual dimension of linguistic variation is Eckert (1989a)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argue that variation constitutes a robust social semiotic system, potentially expressing the full range of social concerns in a given community, and that the meanings of variables are underspecified, gaining more specific meanings in the context of styles.
Abstract: The treatment of social meaning in sociolinguistic variation has come in three waves of analytic practice. The first wave of variation studies established broad correlations between linguistic variables and the macrosociological categories of socioeconomic class, gender, ethnicity, and age. The second wave employed ethnographic methods to explore the local categories and configurations that inhabit, or constitute, these broader categories. In both waves, variation was seen as marking social categories. This article sets out a theoretical foundation for the third wave, arguing that (a) variation constitutes a robust social semiotic system, potentially expressing the full range of social concerns in a given community; (b) the meanings of variables are underspecified, gaining more specific meanings in the context of styles, and (c) variation does not simply reflect, but also constructs, social meaning and hence is a force in social change.

830 citations

OtherDOI
01 Jan 2005

816 citations

References
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Book
01 Jan 1899
TL;DR: The Pecuniary standard of living is defined in this paper as "conspicuous leisure, conspicuous consumption, and higher learning as an expression of the pecuniary culture".
Abstract: Introductory Pecuniary Emulation Conspicuous Leisure Conspicuous Consumption The Pecuniary Standard of Living Pecuniary Canons of Taste Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture Industrial Exemption and Conservatism The Conservation of Archaic Traits Modern Survivals of Prowess The Belief in Luck Devout Observances Survivals of the Non-Invidious Interest The Higher Learning as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture

5,259 citations

Book
01 Jan 1966
TL;DR: This article studied the social stratification of English in New York City department stores and the isolation of contextual style in the context of the lower east side of Manhattan, and the structure of the New York city vowel system.
Abstract: Part I. Problems and Methods of Analysis: 1. The study of language in its social context 2. First approach to the structure of New York City English 3. The social stratification of English in New York City department stores 4. The isolation of contextual style 5. The linguistic interview 6. The survey of the lower east side Part II. Social Differentiation: 7. Class differentiation of the variables 8. Further analysis of the variables 9. Distribution of the variables in apparent time 10. Other linguistic variables Part III. Social Evaluation: 11. Subjective evaluation of the variables 12. Self-evaluation and linguistic security 13. General attitudes towards the speech of New York City Part IV. Synthesis: 14. The structure of the New York City vowel system.

2,837 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen as mentioned in this paper is a well-known theory of leisure classes and can be found at the Monthly Review website. Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article.
Abstract: Review of The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen. This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website , where most recent articles are published in full. Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article at the Monthly Review website.

2,173 citations

Book
01 Jan 1980
TL;DR: This book discusses language, Class and Community, and Studying Language in the Community: The Fieldworker and the Social Network, which aims to clarify the role of language in the community and its role in the lived experience.
Abstract: Editora s Preface to the Second Edition. Preface to the Second Edition. Acknowledgements. 1. Language, Class and Community. 2. Obtaining Data in the Speech Community: Major Principles. 3. Studying Language in the Community: The Fieldworker and the Social Network. 4. The Social Context of Speech Events. 5. The Quantitative Analysis of Linguistic Data. 6. The Language of the Individual Speaker: Patterns of Variation and Network Structure. 7. Conclusions and Theoretical Implications. Appendix. References. Index.

1,604 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
01 Jan 1963-WORD
TL;DR: The authors discuss dialect mixture, obsolescence and replacement, and show a very keen concern with the social mechanism of linguistic change, and include pejorativeracial terms in their discussion of dialect mixture.
Abstract: graphyand settlementhistory of Texas.His inclusionof pejorativeracial terms is a very valuable contribution. His discussion of dialect mixture, obsolescenceand replacement, shows a very keen concern with the social mechanism of linguistic change. The many students of American English who will use these materials must feel a very real senseof obligation towards the author for these advances,as well as for his successin ■tting this very large piece of the American puzzle into place.

1,394 citations