ANTH 252: Language and Gender


Guest Lecture

Dr. Ellen Contini-Morava, Anthropology Department, University of Virginia Topic TBA.

Assessment #2 Questions (due Friday 10 November)

  1. List some of the characteristics of "women's speech" in Western cultures like ours, as described by Nancy Bonvillain.
  2. According to the experimental research cited by Bonvillain, are so-called "neutral" words like "men" (as in "all men are created equal") and "his" (as in "Each student should take his book to class") truly neutral?
  3. According to Zubin & Köpcke, what is the most consistent meaningful distinction made by grammatical gender in German -- is it masculine vs. feminine, or something else? Give one example where the masculine/feminine distinction is used consistently. Is the generalization about the use of neuter gender 100% true, or are there exceptions (where neuter, masculine, and feminine are all used for similar words)? Why?
  4. What does Miyako Inouye mean by "indexical inversion"? What is the irony in the "naturalized history" that Japanese men have invented to account for women's speech habits?
  5. How do the phone-sex workers interviewed by Kira Hall challenge the characterization (by Robin Lakoff and others) of women's speech as powerless? Do you buy this story, or are things perhaps more complicated?
  6. What was the visually obvious way that the audience was able to identify the gender of the speakers in the dialogs presented by Ellen Contini-Morava? Were there any other cues?

Suggestions for Further Research