In the eighteenth century, when logic and science were the fashion, women tried to talk like the men. The twentieth century has reversed the process.
You can’t really know a person until you have heard them speak.
Outline of the chapter
Inequalities between women and men pertain to biology and culture. This chapter starts out from physical differences between male and female vocal tracts and the resulting differences in pitch. It then goes on to consider the question of how biological distinctions are culturally modulated to produce female and male ways of speaking. Two theoretical approaches to the analysis of observed linguistic differences between men and women, labelled respectively ‘difference’ and ‘dominance’, are reviewed. Recent developments in the field of language and gender that, taking notice of sexual minorities, question the utility of fixed binary categories f vs. m are also introduced. The connection between the feminist movement and linguistic gender studies is discussed with a view on deliberate changes in gender-related speech practices.