[I]t has been shown that women and men's speech does differ according to almost confoundingly particular attributes....The question is what it all means. It isn't an accident that it’s so hard to wrap your head around the idea of "the" and "below" as "guy talk."Are you telling me that the linguistics research that extracted these male/female differences did not control the choice of texts so that the speakers were in comparable situations motivated by the same purposes?! Did they compare women's casual spoken word to men's formally crafted writings?
One clear problem here is that femaleness is not the only heading the traits that Jones has identified fall under... A linguist recognizes all of these traits as more typical of casual, spoken language as opposed to formal, written language.
In speech, we are personal ("I"). We use a relatively basic vocabulary and we often grope for words beyond it, resorting to catch-all terms like "Whatchamacallit" and "that thing." In running speech, which is most of how we use language day to day, we are concerned with the immediate context rather than crafting abstractions about the broader world beyond us. Articles like "the" and "a" help us describe things — "a" for new things versus "the" for that which we already know. Prepositions are an especially odd aspect of Jones’s findings, but prepositions are part of placing new things in time and space.
No. That would be insanely unscientific, but it's possible that women in the same situation would choose to speak in a more casual conversational style. So if linguists compare candidates' political speeches, they might find a female stereotype that's different from a male stereotype. As McWhorter puts it:
That in public speeches women take it somewhat more personal than men — although we are talking just tendencies here, not absolutes — is indeed news, and lends itself to assorted interpretations. However, it is this personal aspect of speech that Trump appears to model. That is, compared to average people presenting themselves in public, Trump is a highly personal speaker. Decidedly low on his list are crafting abstractions beyond everyday experience, fashioning new ideas, or stepping beyond the self.And yet that's always what I took "talking like a woman" to mean. Women generally lean toward more casual, conversational speech. Not all women, and some men might do it too. It's a little inflammatory to refer to that as "talking like a woman," but it's an interesting tease.
The irony is that especially in our come-as-you-are times when formality is associated with inauthenticity (something Mitt Romney was hobbled by), this aspect of Trump-talk has much to do with his appeal. He talks like your friend on the barstool — exactly like him. If there's anything Trump is incapable of, it's artifice.Yeah. Talking like a woman feels confidential and gets you involved and connected, and that works for men too if they can do it.
Why don't more men do it? Maybe they're afraid of seeming womanly and they lean toward performing stereotypical masculinity. Much of the time Trump himself is performing stereotypical masculinity. He does that openly and to the point where many people conclude that he's unusually masculine — blustering, frowning, making tough-sounding proposals. But maybe he gets away with that because it's balanced with femininity in ways that come in under the radar. We don't perceive him as effeminate, but the masculinity gets past our defenses because it is leavened with femininity. That's what I think.
But McWhorter says:
Of course, just as the idea that Trump talks "like a woman" seems ludicrous, the idea that women talk like Trump would seem to border on insult.That's why the statistical analysis was so interesting. It was counterintuitive. And it had great potential to rile up Trump haters. But to me, it was important because it helped explain the mystery of Trump's success and resiliency in the face of devastating attacks.
To McWhorter, Trump is just woefully unprepared and therefore using simple speech and repeating himself a lot. That happens to resemble what women do, but of course, women have different reasons for producing the statistical data that linguists have recorded.
I don't expect academics to explain female speech with cruel judgments about how ignorant and unprepared we are. I expect academics to explain the evidence they discover with ideas that compliment women: Women seek to build relationships and to exhibit empathy or whatever seems like a compliment and fits the data.
Look how McWhorter openly rejected insulting women. It can't be that Donald Trump talks like a woman, because to say that would be to insult women. Another explanation is required.
I'm still interested in the subject When linguistic analysis goes horribly wrong, but there are many ways to go wrong....