Gender Differences in the Use of Adjectives and Intensifiers Essay

3002 Words Jan 18th, 2013 13 Pages
University of Debrecen

Gender Differences in the Use of Adjectives and Intensifiers

Sánta Diána Supervisor: Koczogh Helga Vanda


| 1. Introduction
The investigation of male and female speech differences is a major topic in sociolinguistics. The literature on this issue is vast; it has been one of the biggest within sociolinguistics in recent years. A number of linguists have investigated this field of study; among them Robin Lakoff (1975), Janet Holmes (2001), Deborah Tanen (1990), Jennifer Coates (1998), Susan U. Philips (1980)
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The same results were reported by Herbert (1990) who came to the conclusion women intensified their compliments most when writing to other women (Coates, 1988).
The investigation of sex-related speech in court made by O’Barr and Atkins (1980) also confirmed previous claims on women’s language. They found that women’s speech at the court (North California, superior criminal court) contain a high frequency of intensifiers (very close friend, quiet ill and often with intonation emphasis); hedges (you know, sort of like, let’s see etc.); empty adjectives (this very kind policeman) and other similar features (O’Barr, Atkins 1980:381).
A gender differences has been observed in the choice of specific intensifiers. According to Bradac, Mulac and Thompson’s (1995) study ‒ “some intensifiers, such as "really" and "so", are more likely to be used by women while men have preference for "very" and "real", were more likely to be used by men” (Kuha, 2005:218).
The findings of Kuha’s (2005) study also supported that intensifier so is associated with the speech of young female speakers and these results were replicated by Bauer and Bauer’s (2002) on young New Zealanders (Kuha, 2005).
We can see that research on the use of adjectives and intensifiers is quite extensive and it is still growing. From the studies mentioned above we can also conclude that men and women have preference for different adjectives and there

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