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Politeness and Gender - Are Women More Polite Than Men?

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Essay title: Politeness and Gender - Are Women More Polite Than Men?

Politeness and Gender

Are Women More Polite Than Men?

Politeness is defined by the concern for the feelings of others.

From Nancy Bonvillain's "Language, Culture, and Communication" she notes that, "women typically use more polite speech than do men, characterized by a high frequency of honorific (showing respect for the person to whom you are talking to, formal stylistic markers), and softening devices such as hedges and questions."

Sociolinguists try to explain why there is a greater frequency of the use of polite speech from women than from men. In our society it is socially acceptable for a man to be forward and direct his assertiveness to control the actions of others. However, society has devalued these speech patterns when it is utilized by women. From historical recurrence, it has appeared that women have had a secondary role in society relative to that of the male. Therefore, it has been (historically) expected from a women to "act like a lady" and "respect those around you." It reflects the role of the inferior status being expected to respect the superior. In Frank and Anshen's "Language and the Sexes", they note that boys, "are permitted, even encouraged, to talk rough, cultivate a deep "masculine" voice and, if they violate the norms of correct usage or of polite speech, well "boys will be boys," although, peculiarly, it is much less common that "girls will be girls" Fortunately, these roles are becoming more of a stereotype and less of a reality. However, the trend of expected polite speech from the female continues to remain. This is a prime example of how society plays an important part on the social function of the language.

Honorifics: linguistic markers that signal respect to the person you are speaking to:

"Hey ma, fix my jacket"

Mom, could you please do me a favor, and fix my jacket?"

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