Gender and age peculiarities of the language and some linguistic difficulties of translation them in practice

Study of lexical and morphological differences of the women’s and men’s language; grammatical forms of verbs according to the sex of the speaker. Peculiarities of women’s and men’s language and the linguistic behavior of men and women across languages.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид дипломная работа
Язык английский
Дата добавления 28.01.2014

Older and younger adults can guess fairly accurately the chronological age of elderly individuals by listening to them speak [Caruso, Mueller, and Xue, 1994]. However, physiological age rather than chronological age may be a better predictor of who is perceived as having an ``aging voice'' [Ramig and Ringel, 1983]. Respiration and phonation are most affected by the aging process. Older people may have a restricted loudness range due to reduced vital capacity.

Similarly, consider the words: burglar, loudly, sneezed, the. Here, only three combinations are possible: The burglar sneezed loudly, Loudly sneezed the burglar and (perhaps) The burglar loudly sneezed. All others are impossible, such as *The loudly burglar sneezed, or *Sneezed burglar loudly the. Note also that had the four words been burglars, a, sneezes, loudly, there is no way in which these could be combined to make a well-formed sentence. *A burglars is an impossible combination, and so is * burglars sneezes. In brief, English places firm restrictions on which items can occur together, and the order in which they come. From this, it follows that there is also a fixed set of possibilities for the substitution of items. In the word bats, for example, a could be replaced by e or i, but not by h or z, which would give *bhts or *bzts. In the sentence The burglar sneezed loudly, the word burglar could be replaced by cat, butcher, robber, or even (in a children's story) by engine or shoe - but it could not be replaced by into, or amazingly, or they, which would give ill-formed sequences such as *The into sneezed loudly or *The amazingly sneezed loudly. Every item in language, then, has its own characteristic place in the total pattern. It can combine with certain specified items, and be replaced by others (Figure 4).

The - burglar - sneezed - loudly

A - robber - coughed - softly

That - cat - hissed - noisily

Figure 4

Language can therefore be regarded as an intricate network of interlinked elements in which every item is held in its place and given its identity by all the other items. No item (apart from the names of some objects) has an independent validity or existence outside that pattern. The elements of language can be likened to the players in a game of soccer. A striker, or a goal-keeper, has no use or value outside the game. But placed among the other players, a striker acquires an identity and value. In the same way, linguistic items such as the, been, very, only acquire significance as part of a total language network.Let us now look again at the network of interlocking items which constitutes language. A closer inspection reveals another, more basic way in which language differs among the speakers.Look at the sentences: The penguin squawked, It squawked, The penguin which slipped on the ice squawked. Each of these sentences has a similar basic structure consisting of a subject and a verb (Figure 5).

Figure 5

The penguin It The penguin which slipped on the ice


The number of words in each sentence is no guide whatsoever to its basic structure. Simple counting operations are quite irrelevant to language. For example, suppose someone was trying to work out how to express the past in English. They would have no success at all if they tried out a strategy such as 'Add -ed to the end of the third word'. They might, accidentally, produce a few good sentences such as:

Uncle Herbert toasted seventeen crumpets. But more often, the results would be quite absurd:

*Clarissa hatefrogs-ed.

*The girl who-ed hate frogs scream.

In fact, it is quite impossible for anybody to form sentences and understand them unless they realize that each one has an inaudible, invisible structure, which cannot be discovered by mechanical means such as counting. Once a person has realized this, they can locate the component to which the past tense -ed must be added even if they have never heard or said the sentence before, and even if it contains a totally new verb, as in:

The penguin shramped the albatross.

In other words, language operations are structure dependent - they depend on an understanding of the internal structure of a sentence, rather than on the number of elements involved. This may seem obvious to speakers of English. But the rarity, or perhaps absence, of this property in animal communication indicates its crucial importance. Its presence has not been proved in any animal system (though birdsong may turn out to be structure dependent, according to some researchers). Moreover, the types of structure dependent operations found in language are often quite complicated, and involve considerably more than the mere addition of items (as in the case of the past tense). Elements of structure can change places, or even be omitted. For example, in one type of question, the first verbal element changes places with the subject:


[That dirty child] [must] wash,

has the related question


[Must] [that dirty child] wash?

And in the sentence, Billy swims faster than Henrietta.

It is generally agreed that the sentence means 'Billy swims faster than Henrietta swims', and that the second occurrence of swims is 'understood'.

In human language, the symbols are mostly arbitrary, and the system has to be painstakingly transmitted from one generation to another. Duality and displacement - the organization of language into two layers, and the ability to talk about absent objects and events - are usual in the human society. Language is a patterned system of arbitrary sound signals, characterized by structure dependence, creativity, displacement, duality, and cultural transmission.

This is true of all languages in the world, which are remarkably similar in their main design features. There is no evidence that any language is more 'primitive' than any other. There are certainly primitive cultures. A primitive culture is reflected in the vocabulary of a language, which might lack words common in advanced societies. But even the most primitive tribes have languages whose underlying structure is every bit as complex as English or Russian or Chinese.


As conclusion the linguistic features in a casual conversation context has been a conscious choice, supporting the difference approach in sex speech styles. Rather than acknowledging an imbalance of power between the sexes, we have supported the claim that speech styles are different due to contrasting interaction purposes. For women this includes the payoff of connection and solidarity. Often evaluated with men's language as the norm, misunderstanding of women's speech intentions is common. There are problems, however, with any research that attempts to define characteristics of men's or women's speech. First is the interpretation of differences. Associations that are found between specific feature use and women's language should not be assumed to take place in all situations or contexts. Gender differences are not absolute. Secondly, many conversational features, such as tag questions and interruptions, do not have set functions (not to mention researcher's varied definitions). An interpretation of a particular feature, in addition to a speaker's intention, can only be done within the setting of the interaction.There was an interesting finding on interaction of status and gender based on non-verbal communication. Nancy Hoar [1992] pointed out that women's high pitch voices connote childhood rather than adulthood. And this connotation suggests the lower status and power, for children are typically concerned with trivial matters, whereas adults are concerned with more serious matters. Also, children are expected to defer to adults. She convinced this finding with the fact that women who aspire to influential positions are often adviced to cultivate lower pitched voices, ones that communicate authority. Other non-verbal aspects such as how often women smile, how much they listen and give more eye contact, are among other non-verbal aspects that may contribute to the studies of gender.

The most consistent difference found between men and women is a tendency for women to speak in a way that is closer to the prestige standard. In colloquial terms, they speak 'better' than men. No one is quite sure why this is so, and several explanations have been proposed, which may all be partially right. [Aitchison J., 1992]. For example, women may be pressurized by society to behave in a 'ladylike' manner, and 'speaking nicely' may be part of this. Or because they are the main child-rearers, they may subconsciously speak in a way which will enable their children to progress socially. Or they may tend to have jobs which rely on communication, rather than on strength. Women's speech has been said to be more polite, more redundant, more formal, more clearly pronounced, and more elaborated or complex, while men's speech is less polite, more elliptical, more informal, less clearly pronounced, and simpler. All these factors, and others, appear to be relevant. Of the social causes of gender differentiation in speech style, one of the most critical appears to be level of education. In all studies, it has been shown that the greater the disparities between educational opportunities for boys and girls, the greater the differences between male and female speech. Children soon pick up the social stereotypes that underlie this discrimination. They learn that women's talk is associated with the home and domestic activities, while men's is associated with the outside world and economic activities.

As for the children's speech we can conclude, that different children use different strategies for acquiring speech. For example, some seem to concentrate on the overall rhythm, and slot in words with the same general sound pattern, whereas others prefer to deal with more abstract slots. Children have to learn not only the syntax and sounds of their language, but also the meaning of words. This turns out to be more complicated than some people suppose. For a start, it probably takes some time for children to discover that words can refer to separate things. At first, they probably think that a word such as milk refers to a whole generalized ritual, something uttered as a mug is placed in front of them. Later they, discover that words have meanings which can be applied to individual objects and actions.

Children may be able to use words only in a particular context. One child agreed that snow was white, but refused to accept that a piece of paper was also white. This tendency to under generalize usually passes unnoticed. But it is probably commoner than over- generalization, which attracts much more attention. Language processing is more sensory in boys and more abstract in girls.

Girls showed significantly greater activation in language areas of the brain than boys. The information in the tasks got through to girls' language areas of the brain - areas associated with abstract thinking through language.

The study of gender, however, should not suggest that women need to adopt a `masculine' style of communication, for one need not avoid being inferior in order to become superior, and need not be impolite in order to avoid being powerless. Gender differences in communication should be considered as alternatives rather than a powerless or ineffective style versus authoritative, assertive style. Perhaps a change in social attitude would be much more beneficial for a boy thrown the more equal approach of women and men.


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