Situation & conversation
Human discourse is an ongoing project of meaning-making, and the extent to which an
individual or a group or category of individuals actually contributes to meaning depends on their
ability to get their contributions heard and attended to
Fate of the speaker’s contribution is already at issue- even before it is uttered. Whether speaker
is appropriate or the situation is appropriate- is the speaker is part of conversation/situation
Division of labor matters
What kinds of speech events and activities take place in these situations and who is thus
present to participate in them? Who has the right and/or authority to participate in these events
and in what ways? Who is entitled to speak and be heeded on what kinds of topics? How does
one get one’s contribution into the flow of speech? And who will be in a position to follow up
that contribution in other situations?
Who has right in conversation?
What about our society?
Usually children are kept away from participating in conversation
Men are encouraged to talk on all occasions, speaking being a sign of masculine intelligence and
leadership. The ideal woman is submissive and quiet, silent in her husband’s presence. At
gatherings where men do much talking, women sit together listlessly, communicating only in
whispers or not at all. (Hymes 1972, p. 45)
Access to communication and events
Utterance does not depend on speaker who produces it but how it is interpreted, who interprets
In many communities (based on labor division) females have no right to speak publically, so their
ideas do not (directly) put on table. In situations, specially, public affairs are decided.
US policy making, Technology, Medical innovations and health of women, their body reaction to
drugs and treatments
Women in certain public places
US has recently dropped bans on women participating in clubs, golf playing etc
Our civic structure is mainly established, modified by men conversation
Access to situations may also be a function of the gendered allocation of roles.
Religious practices offer many examples. Women do not say mass in the Catholic Church
because only priests can do so, and women cannot be priests.
Women are not allowed for religious congregations, funeral gatherings
Access to conversation/events is
There are many cases in which gender structures access to speech events not because of formal
prohibitions but because of histories of gender imbalance in certain positions. No woman has
ever given a state of the union address in the US -- not because women cannot now legally be
president, but because they have not yet been president. Thus there is a continuum of access
and participation, and there is ongoing change in how gender relates to that continuum.
When You come to know about the
George Eliot is a famous case of a woman writing under a man’s name in order to get published,
read, and attended to. And there are many others.
Emily Bront¨e’s prose was read as strong and forceful; when the author’s identity as a woman
was revealed, critics found delicacy and gentleness in the works.
So it is not only whether one’s words are read or heard but also how they are judged that can
depend on whether one is thought to be woman or man.
Different speech activities (sermonizing, lecturing etc)
A speech activity may vary with varying situation. An academic argument is different from an
argument at dinner table
Argument vs quarrel
. Argument canonically involves giving reasons and evidence and using rational principles of
inference to support a position. In contrast, quarrels are seen as more emotional, primarily a
manifestation of ‘‘temper” and often leading to a rupture in friendly relations among
‘In argument with men a woman ever Goes by the worse.” Milton’s misogynistic line
‘‘quarrelling has a more personal orientation in general, whereas arguing is essentially focused
on the subject matter . . . quarrelling [involves] a struggle of wills and a display of tempers.” To
be argumentative is not necessarily a bad thing: it can suggest strong convictions and
New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
women quarrel or bicker. That’s why a woman ‘‘ever Goes by the worse” in arguing with men. She
is doomed by her inability to engage with him on 102 Language and Gender intellectual grounds,
by being at the mercy of her emotions.