Dissertation
Dissertation > Language, writing > Linguistics > Semantics,pragmatics,lexicology, meaning school > Semantics, pragmatics

Relativity of Gender Discourse Style from the Perspective of Contextual Correlates Adaptability

Author MaWenZuo
Tutor BaiLiMei
School Northwest Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords gender discourse style context Adaptation Theory conversational analysis Friends
CLC H030
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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There do exist gender differences in language. But the reasons for it are hard to tell, because this problem is too complicated. It’s for this reason that so many researchers become more and more interested in this topic. They try to explore this problem from different perspectives. In the last decades, with the rapid development of discourse analysis, gender differences in language have gone into the level of text. Gender discourse style has been one of the focuses in sociolinguistics. Many linguists such as Fishman and Goodwin (1988) think that males’discourse style is competitive and their language is powerful while females’discourse style is cooperative and their language is powerless. Only in recent years, some researchers such as Holmes and Cameron (1995) point out that previous research pays too much attention to the differences and the function of gender factor so that they ignore the similarities of language use and their conclusions are too oversimplified. Because in many situations, the differences in conversations between males and females are not absolute, they are relative. They are just differences in degree and in frequency. This thesis is designed to make a tentative study on the relationship between discourse style and the contextual factors including gender factors and non-gender factors from the perspective of contextual correlates. By doing so the author hopes to establish a new research model in gender discourse style from gender and non-gender contextual correlates perspective at last. Only in this way can people have a better understanding of the relationship between gender and discourse style.According to Verschueren (2000), language use is the very process of making linguistic choices consciously or unconsciously and language choice has to go with the context in which it is used. Context consists of communicative context and linguistic context. Contextual correlates of adaptability include all the ingredients of the communicative context with which linguistic choices have to be interadaptable. And communicative context is extra-linguistic context. It includes the physical world, the mental world and the social world. The physical world usually refers to temporal deixis and spatial deixis. The social world includes social settings or institutions, community-specific communicative norms. Culture is also an important part of the social world. The mental world refers to the cognitive and emotional factors such as speakers’personality, emotions, beliefs, desires or wishes and motivations or intentions, etc..Based on the previous study on this problem, the theory of contextual correlates adaptability and the theory of conversational analysis, with the American sitcom Friends as the data, qualitative as well as quantitative analysis are conducted in the present research so as to have another tentative study on gender and discourse style from the perspective of contextual correlates adaptability. The most important data of discourse strategies that represent the speaker’s discourse styles, including amount of speech, interruption, overlap, minimal response, hedges, tag questions and topic choice, etc., are collected and analyzed carefully with the purpose of finding out the relationship between discourse style and gender or non-gender factors by means of empirical study of some data from Friends.In specific communication, we can find that the style differences in male and female conversations are also constrained by such factors as setting, topic, speaker’s role relationships, speaker’s character and socio- cultural conventions, etc. apart from gender factor. Therefore, male and female discourse styles are relative, interactive and pluralistic. Only in a specific context and from a contextual correlates perspective can we better understand and interpret gender differences in speech communication. The conclusion of the previous research on this problem by binary-thinking scholars is one-sided and oversimplified and it can not explain many instances of language use in real conversations. Such a finding also reflects a gradual shift from static and binary thinking research to dynamic and pluralistic thinking research in language and gender study.The significance of the present study lies in the fact that it, as a tentative one, validates the application of Adaptation Theory in discourse style and succeeds in establishing a research model in gender discourse style from non-gender contextual correlates perspective at last.

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