Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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The methods and techniques used in sociolinguistics have been continually improved in recent years. Yet the claims that have been made about differences of degree between the language used by women and that used by men, are mostly based on the introspection method.This paper reports on a qualitative analysis of sex differences in language use by means of the observation method.On the basis of 587 utterances produced in buying a train ticket at the Central Station in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) has been investigated.vhether there is a statistically significant difference between women and men in certain aspects of their use of language which have been mentioned in the literature: the number of words to deal with a 8et task, diminutives9 civilities, forms of language expressing insecurity (repetitions, hesitations, sel f-corrections, requests for information), In addition to the independent variable of sex of speaker three other variables were introduced: sex of addressee, age of speaker (0-30, 35-60, 60+) and time of ticket purchase (rush hour or normal).The data were fed to the computer for processing according to programs of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. 2x2x2x3 ANOVAS (sex speaker ? sex adressee ? time of ticket purchase ? age speaker) were conducted to test the significance of the main effects and their interactions for all the dependent variables which were frequent enough to warrant further processing. The results indicate that there are few significant differences between the language used by women and that used by men in this particular situation, with regard to the variables mentioned above. As a consequence, this investigation has demonstrated once again that intuitions should be considered critically.It is remarkable, however, that sex of addressee does affect almost all of the variables under consideration: all of the kind of utterances that women are characteristically supposed to use more often than men -utterances indicating insecurity and politeness - were used more often by women and men when speaking to the male ticket-seller. Consequently these results strongly suggest that anyone who wants to investigate language by means of interviews must take into account the fact that the kind of language used does not depend only on the informant, but just as much on the addressee.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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