The most important aspect that separates humans from animals is our means of communication through language. Each language holds unique characteristics that reflect its respective society to a certain extent. This leads to the question: Do men and women use language differently? How does language use relate to their role and society? Plainly stated, gender is a social elaboration of the biological sex. Essentially this means the definition of males and females are people’s understanding of themselves combined with the idea of masculinity and femininity which ultimately is socially constructed. This shows that gender is a learned behaviour that is both taught and enforced, leading to the conclusion that gender is a collaborative event that it connects individuals to the social order. Research into this sociolinguistic variation first begins with language that is influenced by social structure rather than defining the relationship of gender and language specifically.
Women have become secondary creatures to their male counterparts because of submissive linguistic behaviour enforced since childhood. Research of gendered language show that language places social constraints creating a social order that systematically advantages some while disadvantaging others. Social order is established through language with the evolution of words, semantic pejoration, and gendered terms. With the help of gender ideologies language has managed to establish, maintain and reflect an asymmetrical relationship between women and men.
“The personal identity of women thus is linguistically submerged; the language works against treatment of women, as serious persons with individual views,” stated by Robin Lakoff (1975). Language has the power of representing someone in a good or bad way. In today’s world, first impressions are everything and language use is an intricate part of it. Women have struggled and put forth much effort to prove themselves in a male-dominated world: they must be intelligent, well dressed, act a certain way, etc.; yet they have to be particular with what they say or how they express themselves.
Language happens to be a key component of gender ideology. The relationship between language and gender can be used to explain the existence of social concepts like why women are more likely to become teachers, nurses, or stay at home moms. Meanwhile their ‘complement’ takes on the role as the breadwinner and provider for the family. This mere example of an asymmetrical relationship can be reviewed to understand key characteristics of language used by women. Why are they less likely to swear or use more standard forms of language than their male counterparts? Such discourse reinforces gender inequality by constructing roles for men and women to accept and see these inequalities as normal.
Throughout history, women have struggled to prove that they are just as good men. In order to do that they had to be sharp, talk smart and be well versed, because...