Is there a place in the world where we have differences between women and men in accent or even in vocabulary?

By: | Post date: 2016-09-20 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

There’s lots of gendering in language, and people who have studied sociolinguistics more intently than me will be able to offer better examples.

I actually don’t know of instances in Crete that OP has in mind. I do know that in Tsakonia in the 19th century, the palatalised allophone of /r/ appeared to be [r̝], the “Czech r”, for men but not for women.

When there’s a conflict between dialect and the standard language, the tendency for gendered dialect variation can go one of two ways:

  • If there is little exposure to the standard language within the community, and you’re in a patriarchal society, then men will have more exposure to the standard language than women, because women are stuck at home, and never hear the standard language spoken at all, while men are out and about, and do hear it. That’s a 19th century Europe thing. In fact, extrapolated to minority languages, you’d get situations where only the menfolk were exposed to the official language of the country—which was confined to the public sphere. Women were excluded from the public sphere, so they did not have access to the official language.
  • If there is a lot more exposure to the standard language, and we’re in the 20th century (so women are not stuck at home, and get exposed to radio and TV even if they are), then women will move closer to the standard language, as they tend to be socialised to be more aware of social status and norms of genteelness. Men OTOH will move away from the standard language, because they will have more of their identity invested in notions of localism and parochialism, rather than status. (Yes, yes, generalisations, but that’s what sociolinguists have observed in the UK and US.)

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