Men and Women in Conversation is Cross-Cultural Communication
An excerpt from “Men and Women in Conversation: An Analysis of Gender Styles in Language”
by SUSAN GITHENS
In You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in Conversation, Deborah Tannen — a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University — addresses linguistic differences as they relate to intimate male/female relations. As a student of Robin Lakoff she had been introduced to Lakoff’s research on gender and language. Tannen had already written a book on conversational styles, in which she devoted only one chapter to gender differences. After overwhelming popular response she decided to research gender differences more deeply for this, her fourth book on conversational styles.
Tannen claims that there are gender differences in ways of speaking, and we need to identify and understand them in order to avoid needlessly blaming “others or ourselves — or the relationship — for the otherwise mystifying and damaging effects of our contrasting conversational styles” (Tannen, p. 17). Tannen takes a sociolinguistic approach to these gender differences since she feels that “because boys and girls grow up in what are essentially different cultures…talk between women and men is cross-cultural communication” (Tannen, p. 18).