SEX AND ROLE DIFFERENCES IN THE USE OF THE FEMALE REGISTER
JACKSON, MARIANNE QUINN
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In an investigation of the Female Register, 40 male and female college students and 20 male and female faculty, paired in 30 dyads of same- and mixed-sex and same- and mixed-role, were recorded in a get-acquainted conversation and a discussion. Typed transcripts were scored for the use of acknowledgements, fillers, hedges, empty adjectives, intensifiers, tag questions and laughs (Female Register) and for slang, questions, numbers and number of words. Results show significant differences in the Female Register for sex of speaker only among the students. Female students were more supportive, less dominant, more emotional and less empirical in their speech. There was no evidence of females being more uncertain (greater use of tag questions, hedges and fillers), or of their using less slang than males. Female students were more responsive to status. Sex-role orientation was related to some of the language features. A revised "Young Female Register" is proposed, consisting of greater use of acknowledgements, empty adjectives, intensifiers, laughs, less use of numbers and fewer words spoken. Results show the importance of status, setting and topic for language variation. Methods of inter-rater reliability are discussed and suggestions for further research are proposed.