Women and men have different ways of speaking. Here's what my wife said to me this morning. (Background you'll need: our adult daughter Rebecca lives in California and has always loved animals, particularly our dog Flirt.)
Womanspeak: My wife said, "I don't know if I told you this. I told Sarah while we were talking on the phone, but I can't remember whether I told you or not. Remember when we were having such bad weather? First it was so cold, and then we got all that snow? You remember? Well, I told Rebecca about it, and do you know what the first thing she said was? The very first thing? 'Are you still giving Flirt her walks?'"
Manspeak: A man would say, "When I told Rebecca about the bad weather we were having, the very first thing she said was, 'Are you still giving Flirt her walks?'"
I'm not convinced that this is manspeak versus womanspeak as much as it is loquacity versus brevity.
To my mind, a better example using the same topic might be the following sentence:
"Has Flirt been for a walk lately?"
In manspeak this would mean:
"Has Flirt been for a walk lately?"
In womanspeak it would mean:
"Get out of that chair, put down that pint of beer and take Flirt for a walk".
Women and men have different ways of speaking.
Professor Liberman, at Language Log, has collected a nice set of references on the whole man-woman-speak-frequencies trope (link). Besides all the references to Language Log entries, there is a link to an article on Science Magazine called "Are Women Really More Talkative Than Men?" by Mehl et al. (6 July 2007):
—Ceci n'est pas un seing.
My ex-spouse would have spoken directly to the dog and said, "Flirt, you sweet thing, has your Master taken you for a walk today?"
Yes, I would say that was a pretty good example of the difference in male and female communication styles. Men often want to get to the point while women like to tell the story.
Deborah Tannen's book, You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, 1990, is worth reading.It's been a while since I read it, but I found an online article by Laura Bryannan with some Deborah Tannen quotes.
By the way, Shu, I noticed you picked red to indicate Womanspeak. So now red has been used to represent communists, republicans, and women. Interesting.
Pretty interesting considering he says she talks a blue streak.
Pink doesn't show up that well, I imagine, and he was using the stereotypical blue for men and pink for women.
This was everyday conversation as we were getting ready in the morning. I admit that I wasn't that articulate. I don't think it's "womanspeak;" it's just inarticulateness.
This may be a boy/girl difference, though. My sister was telling me that my 2 nieces were fighting. A called B mean, so B cried. Then my other sister took them and my little nephew on a walk to the pond. B told my sister about A calling her mean, so A stomped away because B had told on her. Then A stomped away. So my little nephew looked up at his aunt and said, "Does that mean we can't look for dead fish in the pond?"
Boys are so much less complicated than girls!
Quote from the article: "... However, Tannen states that there is nothing pathological about men's style of communication, and that women's communicating also has it's down-sides. ..."
It's good to see that "spooling horrors" are alive and well, even in erudite book reviews!
I have to say that I agree with much that this book would appear to say, although I am not convinced that male conversation is quite so frequently intended to create status as Tannen suggests.
My own view is that men usually speak to exchange information and ideas, which exchanges then lead to some kind of decision or action - which might be about personal development - but might not. Much of women's conversation is a social act and has a great deal to do with relationship building.
One of the most severe threats that a woman can ever make is, "...I'll never speak to her again...!" It is hard to imagine a man making that kind of threat to another man, or the threatened man being especially worried about the possibility that he might never speak to the first again.
Of course, the point about men's typical responses to women's complaints is undeniably true. When a woman complains about a neighbour, a problem on the road or a news item, she is doing so to seek sympathy, not solutions. Men rarely understand this and offer solutions, not sympathy - and then can't understand why their womenfolk get annoyed. The apocryphal woman's question of her man, "Does my bum look big in this?" does not need the answer "Yes" or "No" - which would be a man's normal reponse; it needs the answer, "You look lovely, dear!". The question is not seeking an answer about her dress; it is a request seeking a boost to her self esteem.
Many of the differences in manspeak and womanspeak can be put down to the essential differences in the way that men and women use conversation.
Yes and no.
I guess it's OK to talk of 'manspeak' and 'womanspeak' when making casual, commonsense obervations. But if we're going to get quasi-scientific, as Tannen and some others pretend to do, I would prefer starting the discussion with neutral monikers. It is my observation that these two styles of speech-- though almost certainly reflective of brain workings and not just the product of culture-- occur in both genders. It's one of those instances where I believe the use of the language unnecessarily narrows one's path of thought.
Pink for girls, and blue for boys.
Read nothing more into it.
I suspect you are speaking from your own personal experiences. I don't think that perspective holds water across all men and women. I agree with Bethree that this kind of thing can occur in either gender.
As with all generalisations there will be exceptions; exceptions do not make a generalisation false - they just prove that there are exceptions.
To suggest that there are no differences in speech patterns between men and women would be, I suggest, as false as suggesting there were no differences between men's and women's preferences for, say, the way they tend to relate to other people. There will be exceptions to any generalisation, but that does not mean that the generalisation is invalid or of no use.
Also fire and dangerous things. I think it's a basic category.
My wife was making beef stew and, because she has severely arthritic hands, I had to harken back to my KP days and peel potatoes for her.
So I asked, "How many should I peel?"
She said, "I need them cut in quarters."
I didn't say that there are exceptions; yes, all generalizations have exceptions. I just don't think those men/women communication differences exist, and I agree with zmj's post above where he quoted Language Log's quote from Mehl et al. Particularly related to verbosity, the evidence does not support there is a gender difference. However, Richard's claim may be a little different. It's more like women don't say what they mean. While there is evidence to refute the verbosity claim, I am not sure if there is evidence, either way, on Richard's claim. Richard, can you point me to some data?
I haven't searched for proper research data, but I believe that there is enough apocryphal data around to prove that men and women's communication styles are often very different. I might take a look but one example that I have heard many times is the question, "Do you fancy something to eat?" or a similar query. If that is a question from a man it means, "Do you fancy something to eat?". From a woman it could mean the same but it could equally well mean "I fancy something to eat". The trouble is that men often don't realise that the same sentence can mean two quite different things; men tend to assume that what is said, is what is meant.
So far a verbosity is concerned I do recall we dicussed here a small-scale experiment that suggested that there is no difference between men's and women's loquacity. However, at the time I did say that I would like to see a better experiment with a larger sample and a better mix. This experiment was conducted amongst students, whose conversation patterns will probably not be typical of the population as a whole. I have not yet browsed through all the links in ZM's post, but the M.R. Mehl, S. Vazire, N. Ramírez-Esparza, R.B. Slatcher and J.W. Pennebaker reserach is also based on students (maybe it's the same study) and they particularly note this in their commentary, suggesting that it might skew the results.
One factor that I have never seen discussed, but which would surely be worth investigating, is the question of "parallel conversation". Conversations that take place in order to exchange information work with "turn-taking" amongst the participants - with one one person speaking at a time. In social conversations it is common for several people to be speaking at once, with the participants more intersted in the sounds of their own voices than the views of others. In such situations the numbers of words used by the participants will increase significantly, although the amount of information exchanged will probably reduce. It would be interesting to know whether "parallel conversations" are more frequent amongst all-male, all-female or mixed groups - or whether there is no difference.
Okay...so the data available say that there are no differences in verbosity because of gender. The rest are interesting questions, but we (or at least I) know of no available data.