Monday, 26 February 2007

Language and letters

Ha, when i saw this 'Happy Monday' meme, I just knew that I had to do it. The idea is that every Monday a theme is posted, and bloggers have to post something funny on tht theme - a picture, video, story or whatever. Today's theme is letters.

Here is mine:

This occurred last summer when my boyfriend and I were unexpectedly invited out to dinner with his parents, so he left a note to David (my brother) to explain that we'd left, as David had just gone out. No idea why he thought this was informative, but there you go. We arrived home later on to discover David's contribution. The exchange amused me so much that I kept the bit of paper.

Yes, I am probably more easily amused then the average blog reader/writer, but there you go.

Anyway, my random thought of the day is that I read a lot of stuff on language and gender today, and the book got me wondering. It paraphrases many of the ideas of a woman called Robin Lakoff - who started off the language and gender debate years and years ago - which include assumptions like 'women use many more tentative linguistic forms than men' and 'men swear more' and 'women force conversations more, and use linguistic forms that force a response in the other speaker'. The book I'm reading focuses on research that's been conducted since Lakoff's claims, which were merely based on her 'intuitions' as a native English speaker. The conclusion is basically that she was talking rubbish, because the evidence often contradicts her. But the evidence also contradicts itself a lot, too. So really...we just don't know what patterns there are in male and female use of language.

What got me though is that I'd agree with a lot of Lakoff's assumptions. Certainly, they're probably not all true, and definitely not for all women. But I reckon that there is still the idea hanging around that women don't, and shouldn't, swear too much. And they get a certain label if they do. And they shouldn't be too forceful in their opinion, and should use plenty of qualifiers to show that they're not praising themselves too much, or making other people out in a bad light.

The question is why is this? I'm not so sure that it's purely because of our apparently patriarchal society. Partly I think it's probably just differences that have evolved, and there's nothing too wrong in that. But you know what? All that business with women qualifying what they're saying is pretty much because of what women do to women. You use qualifiers in your language if you're a woman because you'll be frowned upon for having a decent level of self-esteem, and you also do it because you'll be called a bitch if you attribute negative qualities to another woman.

Sometimes I think it's great being a woman. Sometimes I think we all got a bit confused along the way.

I tend to think I'm pretty cool and I'm not having anyone tell me I should act otherwise. Smug, much? :)

* * * * *

Listening to: The Life You Always Wanted - The Bittersweets
Thinking: I need to take my contact lenses eyes hurt
Funniest moment today: My flatmate and I sprawled out on chairs in our kitchen, making conversation across the room at the eye level of the table


Rose said...

ROFL. That is something my son would reply about my daughter. lol

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