12.  ELIZABETH HUME, The Ohio State University

Ling 230: Language and Gender
Spring 1992

Elizabeth Hume
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 
challenging discussions. 

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

Course description:
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?

Course requirements:
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%

Required text:
Coates, Jennifer. 1986. Women, Men and Language . London; 
New York: Longman. 

Course outline:
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.

Back to the Language and Gender page.   John Lawler