Khamis, 25 September 2008

A Brief History of Gender Studies
Initial quantitative sociolinguistic studies, or variationist studies, investigated the use of ‘variants’ such as pronunciation or grammar structure (Labov, 1972) according to the influences of factors such as class, education and sex. With the evolution of feminist sociolinguistics, assertions, such as those of (Labov, 1972) that women produce language closer to the standard form than men, were challenged as being biased and reinforcing over-simplistic stereotypical generalisations. Tightness of social networks and increasing employment opportunities for women can be seen as being as much of an influence as gender in Lesley Milroy’s (1980) study of Belfast working class communities where women with tight social networks use vernacular forms more than men. Beth Thomas (1989) found that a combination of age and tight-knit networks corresponded with more use of the vernacular for women in a study of a Welsh community. In this way quantitative sociolinguistics has been criticised for neglecting societal power structures or frameworks underlying and ultimately controlling language production.

Gender and Language: Challenging the Stereotypes