Teenspeak, genderspeak

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This is from a little while back (I’ve been sick — a brief account of the crisis point, back in early February, here, but the condition has continued to dog me and consumes much of my life). It’s a Zits combining two of our enduring interests on Language Log, the language of adolescents and language and gender, especially the latter:

Here we see the affectionate couple (with the girl breathlessly telling the story in detail, while the guy interrupts her with an eight-word summary) enacting a gender stereotype that’s often been a focus on Language Log: the talkative, emotional female versus the laconic, bare-bones male. Plus another gender stereotype, of the relationship-oriented female versus the fact-oriented male (the hell with the cuddling and all that stuff, let’s get on to the important stuff, the making out).

I’ve been playing with the idea of assembling a gallery of Language Log cartoons (many from Zits) on gender stereotypes, and maybe another one of strips on teenspeak, along the lines of the gallery of my academic “postcard collages”, most on language-related themes, linked to here.



9 Comments

  1. octopod said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 12:55 am

    Isn’t that stereotype (the talkative women vs. laconic men) now known to be counterfactual?

  2. Zwicky Arnold said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 1:27 am

    To octopod: I was hoping that stereotype would have suggested the dubiousness of the idea. More important, I was expecting that anyone who’s been reading Language Log (with its numerous postings exploding the stereotype as a valid generalization about genderspeak, with references) would have understood that I was not presenting the stereotype as fact. That is, I expected that the fact that this is Language Log should have provided a context for what I said.

    But apparently the idea has to be freshly knocked down every time it’s even mentioned. So I suppose I should apologize for not having trotted out the Language Log bibliography on the matter.

  3. Rubrick said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 2:15 am

    I was more disturbed that this strip perpetuates the long-held stereotype that mens’ eyes are… made of… hair?

  4. Brian said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 3:22 am

    As a male that doesn’t particularly enjoy watching sports, I can attest that males can go on for paragraphs just to say that their team won or scored a goal.

  5. ZA said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 3:50 am

    Brian: The stereotype also says, the only time men use more than three and a half words for something is when they talk about computers, sports, cars … you know, all that manly man stuff women are not interested in. Ever. Because of … um. Genes or something.

    (I’m so tired of this.)

  6. snow black said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 9:09 am

    Dearest Arnold, in over twenty years of internet acquaintance, I have never directly addressed you. But after viewing as many of the postcards as I could take in in one sitting, I must tell you how glad I am to “know” you.

    Kisses,

    SB

    [(amz) Oooh… Though it’s not safe to judge the personal character of an artist from their work. Thurber’s cartoons and writings are, to my mind, very funny indeed, for the most part (the answer, to a Pet Department query, “what you have there is a cast-iron lawn dog” still makes me helpless with laughter. But if you read enough Thurber, you can’t miss a distressing misanthropic — and, especially, misogynist — streak that suggests to me that I really wouldn’t have liked to spend much time around him. But Calvin Trillin, wow.]

  7. Juliette said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

    This comic is particularly interesting to me as it has historically been the role of women in a society to significantly change a language in terms of its development and lexicon. Furthermore, to see the whole issue of the debate I think we must study early language development and ask why we see patterns in which females acquire language before males.

  8. Ken Grabach said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 10:32 am

    One aspect of the stereotype that the heading alludes to has not been mentioned in commentary. The orthography in the first frame suggests a very rapid speech pattern, not simply many words, but many words run together, quite possibly in a single sentence (paragraph). This is, I think, a generational as well as gender stereotype.
    Being on a college campus, one encounters not only verification of these stereotypes, but young men using the same patterns of speech as the young women.
    And I encounter older men and women using the same patterns. I can’t talk that fast, my wife can’t talk that fast. But listen to the recorded sign-offs used by news reporters on NPR programs. THEY speek their names and ‘NPR news’ so rapidly I am surprised there are not parodies of the style.

  9. Ken Grabach said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 10:42 am

    The orthography in the first frame suggests a very rapid speech pattern, not simply many words, but many words run together very quickly. This is, I think, a generational as well as a gender stereotype.
    Being on a college campus, one encounters not only verification of these stereotypes, but young men using the same patterns of speech as the young women.
    And if one needs an example of older generations following this speech pattern, listen to the recorded sign-offs used by news reporters on NPR programs.

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