Language and gender

1)     The concept of participation has been used by various researchers we’ve read this term to analyze their data in specific ways. It is a notion that has methodological and theoretical implications, for example, thinking in terms of participation is different from thinking in terms of speakers, or even social actors. “Participation” implies that one is thinking in terms of a whole event or situation, rather than in terms of individuals performing an action and it makes us think not only about those who are “doing” something but also to those who seem not to do something, those who are just “there.” Furthermore, the notion of participation implies or, rather, allows for, talking about differentiation. By discussing two scholars we’ve read thus far, compare how they have defined this analytical notion, how they have used it in analysis and what their use of this notion contributes to the analysis of gender.

 

2)     We have talked a lot about social categorization (including terms, ideas, styles, language varieties, and identities) in our discussions of gender this term. By drawing on specific examples from our readings, discuss why looking at how a social category changes over time may contribute to our understanding of gender as socially constructed and historically situated. This discussion should attend to both socio-historical context and a specific analysis of meaning.

 

3)     Read Quenqua’s recent NYT article on vocal trendsetters (posted on BB under content). In it one linguist notes “It’s generally pretty well known that if you identify a sound change in progress, then young people will be leading old people, and women tend to be maybe half a generation ahead of males on average.”  Drawing on the theoretical models and data we’ve discussed in class, develop an argument for why young women would be vocal trend setters in North American society. The article posits a few directions to pursue, but you will be expected to flesh out a complete argument drawing specific examples from your readings. Make sure to address how this notion contrasts with that of another finding we have read about, women as linguistic conservatives.

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