What We Say What We Mean Who are “We”? Elaine Rich.

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What We Say What We Mean Who are We? Elaine Rich Slide 2 Is This You? The context: A and B are colleagues. A has just given an important presentation on their work. B had to be in another city at a separate meeting. B phones A to find out how things went. B: So how did it go this afternoon? A: Pretty well, I guess. They really liked our work. But you would have done a much better job giving the presentation. I wish youd been here. B: Dont be silly. Most of the ideas in that presentation were yours. A: Some were. But youre a better talker and youre the one who figured out how all the pieces fit together. Slide 3 This Talk What we say vs. what we mean Do we all share a common language? Slide 4 Language at its Most Straightforward Propositional Content Bill Clinton was the 42 nd president of the United States. Texas is in France. The Matrix is playing at the Dobie. Lunch is at noon. What time is it? Slide 5 When Theres More - Presuppositions What is Clinton famous for? Wheres The Matrix playing? Who is the king of France? Have you started making it to your morning classes? Im going to check out all the five star restaurants in Cleveland on this trip. Slide 6 When Theres More (Shared?) Presuppositions I dont think Alexanders getting a proper education, he said to her one evening. Oh, hes okay. I asked him to figure what change theyd give back when we bought the milk today, and he didnt have the faintest idea. He didnt even know hed have to subtract. Well, hes only in second grade, Muriel said. I think he ought to switch to a private school. Private schools cost money. So? Ill pay. She stopped flipping the bacon and looked over at him. What are you saying? she said. Pardon? What are you saying, Macon? Are you saying youre committed? Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist, cited in (YJDU, p. 175) Slide 7 Conversational Postulates Grices maxims: The Maxim of Quantity: Be as informative as required. Dont be more so. The Maxim of Quality: Do not say what you believe to be false. Do not say that for which you lack sufficient evidence. Maxim of relevance: Be relevant Maxim of manner: Avoid obscurity of expression Avoid ambiguity Be brief. Be orderly. Slide 8 Conversational Postulates and Scalar Implicature A: Have you done the first math assignment yet? B: Im going to go buy the book tomorrow. Slide 9 Another Example of Scalar Implicature A: When did you get home last night? B: I was in bed by midnight. Slide 10 When Theres More Conversational Postulates and Inference A: Joe doesn't seem to have a girl-friend these days. B: He's been going to Dallas a lot lately. Slide 11 When Theres More Conversational Postulates and Inference A: Lets go to the movies tonight. B: I have to study for an exam. Slide 12 When Theres More Conversational Postulates and Inference Reviewer of new book: It is well-bound and free of typographical errors. Slide 13 When Theres More Conversational Postulates and Inference A: What do you think of my new dress? B: Its interesting. Slide 14 When Theres More Conversational Postulates and Illocutionary Force Do you know what time it is? Slide 15 When Theres More Conversational Postulates and Illocutionary Force Do you know what time it is? What time is it? Slide 16 When Theres More Conversational Postulates and Illocutionary Force Do you know what time it is? What time is it? Im freezing. Slide 17 When Theres More Conversational Postulates and Illocutionary Force Do you know what time it is? What time is it? Im freezing. Get up and go close the window. Slide 18 When Theres More Conversational Postulates and Illocutionary Force Do you know what time it is? What time is it? Im freezing. Get up and go close the window. Politeness Slide 19 When Theres More Emotive Force Come on. Just forget about it. Hey, youre the best. Maybe what we ought to do is Slide 20 When Theres More Emotive Force Come on. Just forget about it. Hey, youre the best. Maybe what we ought to do is Do you think maybe we should Slide 21 When Theres More Emotive Force Come on. Just forget about it. Hey, youre the best. Maybe what we ought to do is Do you think maybe we should What we need to do is Slide 22 This Talk What we say vs. what we mean Propositional Content What we Mean Presuppositions Conversational Postulates Illocutionary Force Emotive Force Do we all share a common language? Slide 23 In Some Languages, A Fairly Strong No In Japanese: Women use the honorific prefix o- more often than men do. "Please proceed to the honorable second floor to do your money changing." Women and men have some different vocabulary items: women invariably praise food for being oishii (delicious), men are more likely to say umai http://www.cic.sfu.ca/tqj/GettingRight/womencomedown.html http://www.coolest.com/jpfm.htm Slide 24 In Some Languages, A Fairly Strong No In Japanese: Women use the honorific prefix o- more often than men do. "Please proceed to the honorable second floor to do your money changing." Women and men have some different vocabulary items: women invariably praise food for being oishii (delicious), men are more likely to say umai Older people are more likely to end sentences with ja. http://www.cic.sfu.ca/tqj/GettingRight/womencomedown.html http://www.coolest.com/jpfm.htm Slide 25 The Language of Men and Women In many languages, women generally conform more closely to the standard, correct dialect than men do. The way people speak reflects their social roles, as well as their goals and priorities. Slide 26 What About English? Phonetics Vocabulary Speaking behavior Slide 27 What About English? Phonetics In the county of Norwich, female speakers of all five income levels surveyed were consistently more likely to pronounce the final g in "going" (a characteristic of so-called "correct English") than their male counterparts, who generally perceived "goin'" as rougher and hence more manly. Vocabulary Speaking behavior Slide 28 Vocabulary: The One You Probably Expect Men are more likely to admit that they use swear words: In one study, 72% of men and 55% of women admitted that they swear in public. Slide 29 Vocabulary: Color Terms An experiment with five populations: I: men aged 20-35. Graduate students or people working in technical areas. II: men aged 45-60. All technically trained, highly educated professionals. III: women aged 20-35: A: technical, corresponding to group I. B: non-technical but well-educated. IV: women aged 45-60. Most of them married to the men in Group II. V: Catholic nuns, most of them over 30. http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/ear/Sex-Related_Colour.htm Slide 30 Vocabulary: Color Terms Four responses: 1.Basic one of: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, violet, white, black, brown, grey, pink, tan. 2.Qualified a basic word qualified by words such as light or dark or by another basic word, e.g., yellowish green. 3.Qualified fancy a basic word qualified by special words, such as sky blue or hunter green. 4.Fancy color words not in the basic category, e.g., lavender, magenta, chartreuse. Slide 31 Vocabulary: Color Terms Slide 32 Speaking Behavior: Two Simple Examples Women produce more back-channel utterances (things like uh uh, I see, and yeah that acknowledge the speaker but do not grab the floor). Women use more tag questions (e.g., This will work, wont it? Or We need to install more memory, dont we?) Slide 33 Speaking Behavior: A More Complex Pattern The rest of this talk is based primarily on the work of Deborah Tannen, as described in: You Just Dont Understand Talking from 9 to 5 Caveat: The claims that Tannen makes are statistical and anecdotal. They dont describe universal truths that apply all the time to all people. Caveat: The experimental evidence that forms the basis for this work was done almost entirely in the US. Not clear to what extent the conclusions apply to other cultures. Slide 34 Language As Behavior The core idea: Language is behavior. As such, it is formed by: How we perceive the world Men: One Up One Down Women: A group of equals The priorities we attach to our goals Men : Achieve status (and independence) Women: form social connection and intimacies Slide 35 Language As Behavior These differences affect: When we talk How we talk Our misunderstandings Slide 36 When We Talk Men talk in public. Women talk in private. Slide 37 When We Talk Asking questions But some situations are riskier than others. A Hollywood talk-show producer told me that she had been flying with her father in his private airplane when he was running out of gas and uncertain about the precise location of the local landing strip he was heading for. Beginning to panic, the woman said, Daddy! Why dont you radio the control tower and ask them where to land? He answered, I dont want them to think Im lost. This story had a happy ending, else the woman would not have been alive to tell it to me. What about at school? Slide 38 How We Talk Men vie for control; women try to equalize everyone. Laurie Heatherington and her colleagues had student experimenters ask hundreds of incoming college students to predict how they thought their first year at college would go by forecasting the grades they expected to get. In some cases, the predictions were made anonymously: They were put in writing and placed in an envelope. In others, they were made publicly, either orally to the experimenter or by writing on a paper that the experimenter promptly read. The researchers found that women predicted lower grades for themselves than men did but only when they made their predictions publicly. The predictions the women students made in private did not differ from the mens just as the grades they actually earned as the year progressed did not differ from the mens. In other words, their lower predictions evidenced not lack of confidence but reluctance to reveal the level of confidence they felt. The same researchers conducted a second study that captured womens characteristic balancing act between their own interests and those of the person they are talking to. In half the cases, the experimenters told their own grade-point averages to the students they interviewed, and the grades they claimed to have gotten were comparatively low. Lo and behold, when women students thought they were talking to someone who had gotten low grades, they lowered their predictions of what they expected their own grades to be. Whether or not the experimenter claimed to have gotten low grades did not affect the predictions made by the men students. Slide 39 How We Talk Interrupting Slide 40 How We Talk Tooting our own horns Social conversation who talks and who listens I was at dinner with faculty members from other departments at my university. To my right was a woman. As the dinner began, we introduced ourselves. After we told each other what departments we were in and what subjects we taught, she asked what my research was about. We talked about my research for a little while. Then I asked her about her research and she told me about it. Finally, we discussed the ways that our research overlapped. Later, as tends to happen at dinners, we branched out to others at the table. I asked a man across the table from me what department he was in and what he did. During the next half hour, I learned a lot about his job, his research, and his background. Shortly before the dinner ended there was a lull, and he asked me what I did. When I said I was a linguist, he became excited and told me about a research project he had conducted that was related to neurolinguistics. He was still telling me about his research when we all got up to leave the table. Slide 41 How We Talk Tooting our own horns An experiment with expert/nonexpert pairs Psychologist H. M. Leet-Pellegrini set out to discover whether gender or expertise determined who would behave in what she terms a dominant way for example, by talking more, interrupting, and controlling the topic. She set up pairs of women, pairs of men, and mixed pairs, and asked them to discuss the effects of television violence on children. In some cases, she made one of the partners an expert by providing relevant factual information and time to read and assimilate it before the videotaped discussion. One might expect that the conversationalist who was the expert would talk more, interrupt more, and spend less time supporting the conversational partner who knew less about the subject. But it wasnt so simple. On average, those who had expertise did talk more, but men experts talked more than women experts. Expertise also had a different effect on women and men with regard to supportive behavior. Leet- Pellegrini expected that the one who did not have expertise would spend more time offering agreement and support to the one who did. This turned out to be true except in cases where a woman was the expert and her nonexpert partner was man. In this situation, the women experts showed support saying things like Yeah and Thats right far more than the nonexpert men they were talking to. Observers often rated the male nonexpert as more dominant than the female expert. In other words, the women in this experiment not only didnt weild their expertise as power, but tried to play it down and make up for it through extra assenting behavior. They acted as if their expertise were something to hide. Slide 42 How We Talk Tooting our own horns An experiment with expert/nonexpert pairs - continued Furthermore, when an expert man talked to an uninformed woman, he took a controlling role in structuring the conversation in the beginning and the end. But when an expert man talked to an uninformed man, he dominated in the beginning but not always in the end. In other words, having expertise was enough to keep a man in the controlling position if we talking to a woman, but not if he was talking to a man. Apparently, when a woman surmised that the man she was talking to had more information on the subject than she did, she simply accepted the reactive role. But another man, despite a lack of information, might still give the expert a run for his money and possibly gain the upper hand by the end. Slide 43 How We Talk Use of personal examples Slide 44 How We Talk Story-telling styles Each year, students in my classes record ordinary conversations that they happen to take part in, and transcribe a segment where people tell about personal experiences. One year, two students analyzed all the stories transcribed by class members to compare the ones told by women and those told by men. They found differences that fit in with the patterns I have been describing. The fourteen stories that men had told were all about themselves. Of the twelve stories told by women, only six were about themselves; the others were about incidents that happened to other people. The men, but not the women, had told stories in which there were protagonists and antagonists. For the most part, the stories that men told made them look good...

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