Demystifying Women’s and Men’s Talk in Marital Interactions

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    Former studies on gender and language sustained a male-female binary dichotomy (FISHMAN, 1978; FISHMAN, 1983; TANNEN, 1990; DE FRANCISCO, 1991). They stated that women tend to engage more in conversations in comparison to men, talk more and produce continuers such as ‘mhm’ to offer support to narratives. On the other hand, men tend not to engage in conversations as much as women, talk less and produce continuers in order to silence their interactional partners. Nonetheless, more recent research has rejected the idea of having a male-female dichotomy as a starting point to analyze language data. (SCHEGLOFF, 1997; WEATHERALL, 2000; SWANN, 2002; FREED, 2008). They believe gender is context bound and locally constructed. The objective of this study is to investigate women’s and men’s talk in marital interactions in Brazil from the perspective of talk-in-interaction studies. The analyzed data derive from recorded conversations among two heterosexual couples aged between 24 – 32 years old who had been living together for 2-3 years by the time of the data collection. The data was transcribed according to Jefferson (1984) and analyzed considering four analytical categories proposed by De Francisco (1991) to verify their application: (a) production of second pair parts; (b) topic initiation; (c) use of continuers; and, (d) talking time. As claimed by more recent studies on language and gender, the results indicate that the interactional strategies used by the analyzed couples are not related to pre-established gender categories but negotiated moment by moment in the interaction.




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