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date: 12 December 2017

Abstract and Keywords

In this review, gender-related variations in language are examined. It is argued that language both reflects and maintains gender divisions in society. English and other languages have inherent gender biases (e.g., grammatical gender, generic use of masculine forms, gendered titles, family surnames). In addition, average gender differences are indicated in children’s and adults’ uses of language. These occur in talkativeness, conversation topic preferences, turn-taking and interruption, and the coordination of affiliative and assertive functions in speech acts. However, when statistically significant average gender differences are indicated, the magnitude of the difference is usually negligible or small on most measures. Furthermore, the magnitude and direction of gender differences in the use of language are moderated by contextual variables (e.g., partner familiarity, gender composition, activity).

Keywords: human sex differences, sex roles, sexism, language, speech, conversation, communication, social interaction, aggression, intimacy

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