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Gender Speech Communities

Updated on January 14, 2012

Groups of people sharing the same expectation in the use of language form a speech community. Gender speech communities are made of persons from the same gender with the same basic assumptions and customs on language usage. In this essay, I describe how my speech pattern as a male is different from that of my sister and girlfriend.

Sometimes I fail to understand women because I expect them to talk as men do in a way that is not particulate on feelings. In one example, my sister complains that I ignore her as she talks to me. In such cases, I usually challenge her to ask me about something she has just said, and I answer back in the exact words she had used. However, she still feels that am not attentive while she converses with me. She prefers that I nod, used gestures and show facial movements that correspond with her words. I feel such a demand is exaggerated and prefer that she instead learn to trust that I have listen to her. In addition, I encourage her to ask questions to clarify that I got what she said. When am the one doing the talking, she suggests that I use descriptive words more often so that my speech becomes sensible to her. In most cases, she asks that I repeat a whole story after narrating because she cannot get the details of the narration right.

When I am conversing my girlfriend, I have to withhold myself from mentioning some notable aspects of her character in case she turns defensive feeling that is a self-directed criticism. My girlfriend will prefer subjects that the society has stereotyped as womanly while I tend to favor topics that are opposites of what she prefers. I refrain from talking majorly about activities like playing soccer that I find interesting while she does not. She uses communication as a way to cultivate our relation by maintaining our closeness. Therefore, in most cases, she brings out more issues of our relationship than I do. I mention only briefly such issues and switch back to other topics I find more interesting. In one instance, I wanted to get tickets for a soccer match for the two of us, and called her to inform her of my intention. I was surprised that she was not appreciative of my call and instead demanded that I pass by her apartment later for a chat instead of going to watch the soccer match. This example illustrates her emphasis on using communication as a tool of being close to me, while I’d rather we enjoy a soccer match and have memories of the day later. Lastly, she is categorical that I should not interrupt her while she is speaking, but she constantly talks between my sentences.

To sum up, the characteristic of my conversation with women and specifically my girlfriend and sister is that of push and shove. I follow male patterns of speech while the two women speak in the context of female speech patterns. They attach emotions to their words and expect that besides getting what they are saying, I should also get their feelings as they talk. In most cases I listen to them passively because am uninterested in the topics they bring forth, and on the other hand they openly object to my introductions of topics less interesting to them.

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