12. ELIZABETH HUME, The Ohio State University
Ling 230: Language and Gender
Dept. of Linguistics
The Ohio State Universtiy
223 Oxley Hall
I taught this course for the first time in the spring of 1992. There were
16 students in the class (8 women, 8 men), most of whom were juniors
or seniors. I had intended the course to be discussion-oriented as
much as possible, but soon discovered that most students were
unfamiliar with this type of class interaction, since most of their
classes were lecture-oriented. In an attempt to overcome their unease
with discussing articles, and voicing their own opinions in class, I
often had the class break up into small groups of 4 or 5 students. For
part of the class they would discuss a particular topic in small groups
then, towards the end of the class they would all come together as one
large group to share the ideas that had been developed. This was
*very* successful, resulting quite often in very stimulating and
One of the most rewarding aspects of the course occurred towards the
end when we discussed sexism in language. As part of this section, we
examined and discussed the LSA's guidelines to nonsexist language
usage (prepared by COSWL members). The students were so
enthused by this that they decided to prepare their own guidelines for
nonsexist language usage at the university. Unfortunately since the
quarter was ending, time was limited and the students were not able to
develop this as much as they would have liked.
Students were required to do two projects: one midway through the
course, and one at the end. The final project was on any topic relevant
to the course, although I did have them submit a short abstract
outlining what they proposed to do about three-quarters of the way
through the course.
Drawing on a project done in a course by Sally McConnell-Ginet, the
students' first project involved collecting and analyzing data from
mixed-group conversations. They were to draw on what they had
learned in class to discuss the results of their project. On the day they
were to hand in their assignments, each student gave a 5-10 minute
presentation of their results. Although many students were hesitant
and even fearful of doing this, the outcome was wonderful! At the end
of the class, the air was buzzing with conversation as the students
shared more details of their projects with each other. From that point
on, in particular, students were much more at ease raising questions
and offering comments in class. In future, I plan to have students give
similar short presentations earlier in the course. Beth Hume
In this course we will explore the connections between language
use and culturally/socially enshrined views of gender. Although many
of the works that we will examine are linguistically oriented, we will
also draw on research from the fields of anthropology, psychology,
philosophy, sociology and women's studies. Throughout this
course we will address questions such as the following: how are
gender differences manifested and perpetuated through language use?;
is there such a thing as 'women's language'?; how do gender
differences influence communication between women and
men?; what can be done to promote gender equality in language use?
a. 3 short assignments (about one page each) 15%
Given out on Friday April 10, April 24, May 8.
Due back on Monday April 13, April 27, May 11.
b. Test, Friday May 8. 10%
c. Recording and transcription project (2-3 pages). 15%
To be handed in on Friday, May 1 (week 5).
d. Final project/paper (10 pages max.). 25%
Due on June 5, the last day of classes.
A short abstract outlining what you plan to do should be
given to me no later than Wed. May 15 (7th week).
e. Final exam 20%
f. Class participation 15%
Coates, Jennifer. 1986. Women, Men and Language . London;
New York: Longman.
A. Introduction and Overview (approx. 1 week)
Coates, Jennifer. 1986. Women, Men and Language (hereafter W,
M & L). Chapter 1. 3-14.
McConnell-Ginet, Sally. 1988. Language and gender. In F.
Newmeyer (ed.), The Cambridge Survey 4: The Socio-Cultural
Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 75-99.
B. Language and Gender as Social Practice (approx. 1 week)
Borker, Ruth. 1980. Anthropology: Social and cultural
perspectives. In McConnell-Ginet, Sally, Ruth Borker and Nelly
Furman (eds.), Women and Language in Literature and Society.
New York: Praeger and Greenwood. 26-44.
Connell, R.W. 1987. Gender and Power. Stanford, CA: Stanford
University Press. Chapter 4.
McConnell-Ginet, Sally & Penelope Eckert. Think practically and
look locally: language and gender as community-based practice. To
appear in Annual Review of Anthropology.
C. Gender Differences and Variation in Language Use (approx. 3
Brown, Penelope. 1980. How and why are women more polite:
some evidence from a Mayan community. In McConnell-Ginet, S. et
al. (op. cit.). 111-136.
Cameron, Deborah & Jennifer Coates. 1989. Some problems in the
sociolingusitic explanation of sex differences. In Coates, Jennifer &
Deborah Cameron (eds.), Women in their Speech Communities.
London; New York: Longman. 13-26.
Coates, Jennifer. 1986. W, M & L. Chapters 2, 3 & 4. 15-78.
Eckert, Penelope. 1989. The whole woman: Sex and gender
differences in variation. Language variation and change 1. 245-267.
McConnell-Ginet, Sally. 1983. Intonation in a man's world. In
Thorne, Barrie, Cheris Kramarae & Nancy Henley (eds.), Language,
Gender and Society. Rowley: Newbury House. 69-88.
O'Barr, William & Bowman Atkins. 1980. 'Women's language' or
'powerless language'? In McConnell-Ginet, S. et al. (op. cit.). 93-
D. Conversational Interaction (approx. 2 weeks)
Coates, Jennifer. 1986. W, M & L. Chapters 5-9. 79-162.
Cameron, D., McAlinden & K. O'Leary. Lakoff in context: the
social and linguistic functions of tag questions. In Coates, J. & D.
Cameron (op. cit.).74-93.
Maltz, Daniel & Ruth Borker. 1982. A cultural approach to male-
female miscommunication. In J. Gumperz (ed.), Language and
Social Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 196-210.
Tannen, Deborah. 1990. You Just Don't Understand: Women and
Men in Conversation. New York: Ballantine. Chapters 1, 2. 23-73
E. Gender Inequality in Language Use (approx. 2 weeks)
McConnell-Ginet, Sally. 1989. The sexual (re)production of
meaning: A discourse-based theory. In Francine Frank & Paula
Treichler (eds.), Language, Gender and Professional Writing:
Theoretical Approaches and Guidelines for Nonsexist Usage.
Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession, The Modern
Language Association of America, New York.
Treichler, Paula & Cheris Kramarae. 1983. Women's talk in the
ivory tower. Communication Quarterly 31(2). 118-132.
Martyna, Wendy. 1983. Beyond the he/man approach: the case for
nonsexist language. In Thorne, B. et al. (op. cit.). 25-37.
Henley, Nancy. 1987. This new species that seeks a new language:
On sexism in language and language change. In Joyce Penfield (ed.),
Women and Language in Transition. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 3-27.
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