lunedì 3 giugno 2013

Women and men talk in very different ways...



Introduction

Women and men talk in very different ways for profoundly different reasons: they express their feelings and they communicate their thoughts according to gender differences.
Deborah Tannen, an American linguistic and lecturer at Georgetown University, has written many boocks about communication and has highlighted the differences in men and women’s ways of speaking. We have read “ You just don’t understand, 1991 “ and “ That’s not what I meant, 1992 “. In the second books she analyses the different ways of communicating. In her opinion women tend to use language to establish connections and negotiate relationship. Women feel it necessary to establish a symmetrical relationship, which shows connection and sense of community. Consequently, talking for women is very important, not only to give and receive information, but especially to reinforce rapport. The language of conversation is a language of rapport.

“ For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships. Emphasis is placed on displaying similarities and watching experiences. From childhood, girls criticize peers who try to stand out or appear better than others. People feel their closest connections at home, or in settings where they feel close to and comfortable with – in other words, during private speaking. “ (D. Tannen, 1991:77)

On the other hand, men tend to establish an asymmetrical relationship with their interlocutors, and they try to put themselves in a one – up position on the hierarchical ladder. Their goal of conversation is to give information, offer advice and find solutions. They need to preserve their independence, and, as a result, communication is seen as a competition to be one – up, to establish one’s power and superiority.

“ For most men, talk is primarily a means to preserve independence and negotiate and maintain status in a hierarchical social order. This is done by exhibiting knowledge and skill, and by holding centre stage through verbal performance such a story – telling, joking, or imparting information […] So they are more comfortable speaking in larger groups made up of people they know less well – in the broadest sense, public speaking. But even the most private situations can be approached like public speaking, more like giving a report than establishing rapport.” (D. Tannen, 1991: 77).

Another interesting observation can be found in chapter 8 of Deborah Tannen’s “ That’s not what I meant” where she asserts:

“ Communication is always a matter of balancing conflicting needs for involvement and independence but, although everyone has both these needs, women often have a relatively greater need for involvement and men a relatively greater need for independence.”

Women tend to share secrets and talk about personal aspects of their life, while men do not feel the need to express intimate details. When women speak they feel between themselves solidarity while when men speak they feel between themselves their powers.

We most start to find the original reason to different ways to communication in childhood and in a different way to educate girls and boys. We can say that male – female conversation is cross – cultural communication, because women speak a language of connection and intimacy whereas men use a language of independence and status. Deborah Tannen defines these two ways of considering language as rapport – talk and report – talk.

In my research I will try to verify Deborah Tannen’s ideas. I will investigate together with my group members the rapport in a private life. I will try to demonstrate that in a different kind of family, not a traditional family, the rapport between mother and daughter, mother and soon, sister and brother are not always in agreement with Deborah Tannen’s opinion.
I will focus my attention on:
  • It is really true that women want to create intimacy and connections in conversation more than men?
  • Do men and women give information in a private life in the same way?
  • The different way of communicating between men and women depends also on the type of education we have receive and it depends also on the kind of rapport we have with our interlocutors.
Data Collection

In Deborah Tannen’s opinion men are very concise and tend to establish an asymmetrical relationship with their interlocutors. On the other hand women tend to use language to establish and negotiate relationships. 
To ascertain whether Deborah Tannen’s assumptions are true, I have decided to examine women and men tendency in communication inside my family and inside Selene, Serena and Agnese’s families. 
I have tried to analyse: 
  • The women’s tendency to create intimacy and connections in conversation more than men; 
  • The different way of give us information in private life; 
  • The different way on communicate depends only from the sex of communicator or if it depends also on the type of education received and on the rapport we have with our interlocutors. 
I have decided to carry out my research in my house when my family has lunch. I have taken this decision because at this time we usually speak about many different things. 
I have carried out this research with Selene, Serena and Agnese, who are my fellow – students and they work too as the same aim to verify my own hypotheses. We collected data in our family. We have not a traditional family because we have divorced parents. We have also read the other previous students reports. 

At this point I would like to demonstrate that the conventional idea of men’s communication is different from women’s communication is really in every family context. But, I would also like to try to demonstrate that this idea is not every verified because there are many factors to condition the communication and its charachteristiques. I think that the way to communicate changes from person to person in relationship to the type of education we receive and in relationship to the person who we try to communicate with. 
For example if we have a beautiful rapport with a person, our communication will be fluid, flowing and intense, apart from the sex of communicators. If we have received a male education, because we have spent a lot of childhood with our father, even if we are girls, we tend to orientate a communication in a male way. 
Verifying these things is very difficult but I would like to verify if my theories are true.

Data Methods

J                                         : Laugh
L                                         : Angry
!                                           : exclamation
?                                          : question
…???…                                  : Incomprensible words
+                                          : Short pause
+++                                       : long pause or silence
CAPITAL LETTERS             : louder volume
Small letters                       : softer volume
[…]                                      : part of dialogue compressed

Analysis

Collecting data has been the most difficult part of my research. Trying to keep the most important conversation moment was very hard because it required mind fullness.
I spent two lunches recording and taking notes. The first lunch I was with my grandparents, while at the second lunch I was with my grandparents and my brother. In cache dialogues I take part in conversation. In the first I speak with my grandparents about my allergy to wheat and we make also gossip. In the second dialogue I speak with my grandmother and my brother about my brother’s caprices. My grandfather is present but he does not take part in the conversation.

LUNCHES
GROUPS
TRASCRIPTION
First lunch
Valentina, grandparents ( A ; G)
First – second question
Second lunch
Valentina, grandparents (A ; G), her brother ( P)
First – second – third question

My data will be also integrated with Serena, my group’s member and Nadia Cioni and Giulia Bezzini, previous year students. I will compare in this way the various relationships and behaviours which characterize different family contexts.
Serena took notes inside her family. The first dialogue is between Serena and her grandmother. The second and the third dialogue are between Serena, her mother and her big brother.

TIME
GROUPS
TRASCRIPTION
Afternoon
Serena, her grandmother (T)
Appendix
Lunch
Serena, her mother (M), her big brother (A)
Second question

Taping data was more difficult than taking notes. The main problem was to seem relaxed and normal even if I know that my conversation is recorded. It is difficult also to conceal the mp3 and the fact that our conversation is recorded. I put the mp3 on the table as if is a normal thing. My parents have not note mp3 so they made a normal conversation. But when I analysed my data my grandmother listened the recording and she was very angry because she said that I have violated her privacy. An other problem I have found is when I had to transcribe the dialogue. In fact not all passages are very clear and understandable and it is also difficult to give to transcription the charachteristiques of the real conversation: breaks, exclamations, intonations and all things to distinguish verbal and non - verbal communication.

I will try to interpret the data, first of all proceeding, for every transcription, with a little description of the conversation’s context (who – where – when) and the type of relationship there are between the interlocutors. Then I will describe the most significant parts of the dialogues on which I will base my little assumptions and I will focus the attention on the main sub questions that I mentioned in the introduction.

First Question

Is it really true that women want to create intimacy and connections in conversation more than men? 

In Deborah Tannen’s opinion men are very concise and they tend to establish an asymmetrical relationship with their interlocutors.
On the other hand men want individuality while women research involvement and connection. Deborah Tannen believes that this attitude is not an exclusive of the American family. This different way of considering the private life is a motive of contrasts. 

DIALOGUE 1 

Setting 

Valentina is eating together with her grandparents. It is lunch - time and we are at the table and we are eating. My grandfather and myself are sitting – down and my grandmother turns around the rings. 

Participants 

Valentina : V 
My grandmother : A 
My grandfather : G

Introduction to dialogue

In this dialogue we speak about my allergy to wheat and we make also some gossip. 
My grandfather takes for a little minute’s part in the conversation. My grandmother and myself speak very much. I have a wonderful rapport with my grandparents. I esteem very much these two persons so I speak very well with them and I want them to take part in my life. 
In this dialogue there is an example of communication between two women and one man. One woman has discovered to have an allergy to wheat and the other two people show solidarity and curiosity for the argument.

Transcription: from dialogue 1 

G : la farina di castagne la puoi mangiare ? + 
A : Io non lo so Vale +++ non credo che in quella bianca sia scritto + 
V : la farina di castagne so castagne tritate 
A : si 
V : se nelle castagne non c’è glutine + 
A : si non è + 
V : come nei ceci uguale + i ceci so…so legumi ! 
A : allora cosa significa che ti devo fare le frittelline? ?! J

Analysis 

Gianni is curious and he makes a question but he does not show real interest in the problem. He remains in a high and detached position. The other hand, Anna shows interest to Valentina’s problem and she shows also solidarity. In fact she makes a proposal to find a solution for the problem. ( G: la farina di castagne la puoi mangiare ? + );( A : allora cosa significa che ti devo fare le frittelline? ?! J

DIALOGUE 2 

Setting 

Valentina is eating together with her grandparents. It is a lunch - time and we are at the table and we are finishing to eat. My brother has arrived since ten minutes from school and my grandmother gives him food. 

Participants 

Valentina : V 
My grandmother : A 
My brother : P 

Introduction to dialogue 

In this dialogue we speak about the lunch. Valentina’s grandmother has made a dish with rice because Valentina has an allergy to wheat and Valentina’s brother makes a tantrum because he does not want eat this dish. 
Valentina’s brother has not a wonderful rapport with his sister and his grandmother and he has received a strange education. He positions himself in a higher position than other people. 

Transcription: from dialogue 2 

P : è solo carne? ? 
V : no, no c’è anche il riso perché io non posso mangia il pane. + 
P : lo so che non lo poi mangia. !!! + Ma c’è dentro la carne o c’è solo patate. ? 
A : è riso e carne. +++ 
P : NO MA PERCHE’? ?? L 
V : io non posso mangià il pane Pietro. !+ 
P : LO SO MA PERCHE’ +++ MA PERCHE’ NON NE HAI MESSO UN PO’ DA PARTE + LO SAI   CHE IL RISO NON MI PIACE !!! L 

Analysis 

Pietro is very angry because his grandmother has cooked a dish which Pietro does not like. He does not show interest in Valentina’s problem he takes as superiority place, in fact he does not want listen Valentina’s and her grandmother’s explanations. He shows himself as an egoist person. On other hand Valentina and her grandmother try to explain the reason to this fact to convince Pietro to eat the rice dish. They show solidarity and they want try to create connection and intimacy. 
They became a little group. They became a coalition to oppose the Pietro’s position. ( P : LO SO MA PERCHE’ +++ MA PERCHE’ NON NE HAI MESSO UN PO’ DA PARTE + LO SAI CHE IL RISO NON MI PIACE !!! L );(V : no, no c’è anche il riso perché io non posso mangia il pane. + // A : è riso e carne. +++) 

Second Question

Do men and women give information in a private life in the same way? 

In Deborah Tannen’s opinion men feel in one – down position when they ask for help. They have a vision of life too problem – solver. 
Women are used to praise. Women usually judge and for men it is a problem, because women take a power position. 
Deborah Tannen believes that when the father wants same information he asks the essential question and he does not want supplementary information. on the other hand when the mother want some information she researches contact and she wants also know the supplementary information. 

DIALOGUE 1 

Setting 

Valentina is eating together with her grandparents. It’s a lunch - time and they are sitting – down around the table. We have finished to eat and we speak about many things. 

Participants 

Valentina : V 
My grandmother : A 
My grandfather : G 

Introduction to dialogue 

In this dialogue Valentina and her grandmother ask Pietro some information about his football training. 

Transcription: from dialogue 1 

A : l’ho data alla Vale 
V : ma non c’è giù la borsa !+ 
A : giù no, + va tirata fuori 
V : te cosa ti fai la doccia li ? 
P : si 
V : ma c’è il phono ? 
P : si 
V : ma va a gettoni ? 
P : no 
V : è gratuito ? !?! 
P : si pigi un bottone 
V : ma sei sicuro ? ??! 
P: SI…sennò me lo avrebbero detto L 

Analysis 

Valentina’s grandmother is worried to find a bag for Pietro’s football training. 
Valentina asks her brother in what way he can dry his hair when he is at the football training. Pietro answers to valentina’s questions with monosyllable words. He wants to keep his superiority position for this reason he does not want to give too much information. On the other hand Valentina makes a lot of questions to establish connection and intimacy with her interlocutors. She shows interest for the matter. (P : si // P : si // P : no );( V : te cosa ti fai la doccia li ? // V : ma c’è il phono ? // V : ma va a gettoni ? ). 

DIALOGUE 2 

Setting 

Valentina’s grandparent’s kitchen. It is a lunch time and we are at the table. 

Participants 

Valentina : V 
My grandmother : A 
My grandfather : G 

Introduction to dialogue 

In this dialogue we speak about wine. The conversation is between three people who have a very high level of familiarity and confidence. 

Transcription to dialogue 

V : era buono il vino che vi ha portato babbo? 
G : si +++ 
A : BUONISSIMO… J CASPITA! !!! 

Analysis 

Valentina asks very simple question. Her grandfather answers to question with a monosyllable and he does not change tone. He keeps his detached and superior position. Her grandmother shows interest and she changes tone. She shows excitement and she gives satisfaction to Valentina. 

DIALOGUE 3 

Setting 

Serena’s kitchen. It’s lunch - time and she and her mother and her big brother are at the table and they are speaking. 

Participants 

Serena’s mother : A 
Serena’s brother : B 

Introduction to dialogue 

In this dialogue Serena’s mother and her brother have a conversation. They speak about a football match. Serena’s mother has three children: one girl Serena and two boys: one of they is older than Serena and the other is younger than Serena. They live with their mother because their parents are divorced. 

Trascription: from dialogue 3 

A : Andre + stamani a che ora ti sei svegliato ? 
B : +++ BOOO !!!!! +++ 
A : sei andato a pranzo col babbo? ??? 
B : si (very louder tone) L 
A: dove? 
B : a casa del babbo ( very louder tone) L 
A : dove?! 
B : a casa del babbo !!! L 
A : ma t’è venuto a prendere subito? +++ vi siete trovati d’accordo? 
B : si ( very louder tone) 
A : è…!!! Non ho capito! +++ 
B: +++ a mezzogiorno… si L L 
A : ma hai giocato tardi? 
B : +++ s’è giocato alle quattro e mezzo +++ 
A : e poi ? +++ dove avete giocato ? 
B : +++ in via nova +++ ( very louder tone) 
A : dove? ??? 
B : IN VIA NOVA J 
A: avete perso + vinto ?! 
B : +++ pareggiato +++ 
A : meno male !!! J +++e dopo ti ha riportato il babbo subito a casa ? 
B : +++ si +++ 
A : stasera come mai non hai cenato con il babbo? 
B : non lo so +++ non c’era +++ 

Analysis 

Serena’s mother wants to know what the result of her son’s football match is and she wants also to know some things about the rapport between her soon and his father. Serena’s mother asks many specific questions with the aim to create confidence and intimacy with her son. Serena’s brother instead answers her mother’s question in a very simple and essential way. It seems that he does not want to answer his mother question. In fact he has a very annoyed tone and he is not favoured to have a conversation. (A : Andre + stamani a che ora ti sei svegliato ? // A : sei andato a pranzo col babbo? ??? // A : ma t’è venuto a prendere subito? +++ vi siete trovati d’accordo?);( B : +++ BOOO !!!!! +++ // B : si (very louder tone) L // B : si ( very louder tone) )

Third Question

The different way of communicating between men and women depends also on the type of education we have received and it depends also on the kind of rapport we have with our interlocutors. 

I do not have a dialogue which answers this question, but I can affirm that the way of communicating, between men and women inside a family, is different for many reasons, not only connected to sex of the interlocutors. 
I have observed my brother’s conversation attitude. If you speak with him of determined things he speaks very much and he shows interest in the conversation. If you want to know something or if you rebuke him for something he does not show interest, on the contrary he becomes nervous and he starts answer to question we make in a very annoyed way and with monosyllables. 
I am a very talkative person: I love speaking. If I speak with my grandmother, for example, I try to create with her connection and intimacy and I try pleasure make with her a conversation. On the contrary if I speak with my mother I do not show interest during the conversation and I do not try to create intimacy and connection with her. I try to keep a higher position and I plan the conversation like a conversation between man and women. 
So, I think that if you have, in a family context a good rapport with your parents, you are able to make with them an interest – us and complex conversation apart from if you are a boy or a girl. 
I think also that the intensity of a communication between two persons depends on the argument of conversation will be fluid and intense; if the subject does not interest all communicator the conversation will not be fluid and intense. For example: 

DIALOGUE 

Introduction to dialogue 

In this dialogue my grandmother rebukes my brother. 

Participants 

Valentina : V 
My grandmother : A 
My brother : P 

Trancription : from dialogue 

P : ... Ah ! lo sapete che cosa è quello che ho al dente ?!!!? +++ UN ASCESSO !!! 
A : INFATTI !!! ++ quant’è che te lo dicevo io ?!!!! L 
V : vedrai tu te li lavassi i denti ! +++ 
A : quant’è che lo diceva la tu nonna… +++ 
P : +++ MA INFATTI APPENA ARRIVA BABBO E VADO A CASA ME LI LAVO… !!!!! L L L 

Analysis 

In this dialogue Pietro starts to speak and he wants to relate about his teeth’s problem. When he starts to speak, his tone is quiet and he shows himself to get ready to make a long and intense conversation. But when his grandmother and his sister interrupt him and they rebuke him, Pietro becomes nervous and he tries to change the conversation tone. He feels attacked and he answers in a bad way. 
So if you make an attack or if you rebuke a person you don’t receive from this person solidarity or connection apart from if this person is man or woman. 

I think also that the way of communicates depends on the type of education we have received. My brother, for example, has grown - up with three women: my mother, my grandmother and myself. He speaks a lot and when he makes a conversation he tries to create with his interlocutors intimacy and connection. At the other hand, for example, I have grown - up with my father and, even if I like very much speaking, I have a tendency when I speak to keep a higher position and it is difficult that I try to create intimacy and connection with my parents. 

In my opinion an other things, which influenced communication in a family context, is the type of rapport you have with your parents. If you have intimacy and confidence with one of your parents, you will have with him a good conversation to aim at create connection. If you do not have a good rapport with one of your parents you are not able to cerate intimacy and connection during the conversation apart from you are man or woman. 

In conclusion in my opinion there are other things that influence the way of communicating: 
  • The type of education we have received 
  • The type of rapport we have with our interlocutors 
  • The argument of conversation 
  • Tone of conversation
Conclusions

The goal of my research was to analyse if Deborah Tannen’s assumptions about involvement and independence were right or wrong and so I focused my attention in particular on conversation in a not conventional family context. In order to carry out my analysis in a more through way, I followed three main points:

1. Women want create intimacy and connection in conversation more than man?

2. Men and women give information in a private life in the same way?

3. The different way to communicate depends only from the sex of communicator or if it depends also from the type of education received and from the rapport we have with our interlocutors.

The results of my research confirm what Deborah Tannen says about intimacy and connection when men and women speak or when they give information. Women speak more than men and when they give or ask information are more precise than men and, at the end, they show more interest and they put more passion in conversation than men. But I must disconfirm what Deborah Tannen says about the reason of different ways of communicating. She says that all reasons depend only on the sex of the interlocutors. But I observe that, inside at not conventional family like my family, the reason to influenced communication are many and not only connected to the sex of the interlocutors.

I observed that the type of education we have received, the type of rapport we have with our parents and the topics of conversation influenced the communication.
So, what Deborah Tannen says about the innate tendency of men and women to make a conversation is not all true. All over the factor I have list influenced the communication in a non - conventional family.
On the whole what Deborah Tannen says about the tendency of men and women in communication are true, but she does not consider the exceptions.
Today there are many different realities in the family. In a divorced family it is not true what Deborah Tannen’s affirms. In this type of family boys and girls live a strange reality and they must adapt themselves to the situation. They, sometimes, must change their innate attitude with the aim to live in a quiet way. So, for example, if a boy lives and grows with his mother he must adapt his male attitude to the attitude of women and vice versa. This thing has positive point: it is easier for a man who grows with his mother to understand the women’s world and it is easier for a woman who grows with her father to understand the men’s world.

Bibliography
  • Tannen D. 1992 a. You just don’t understand. Ballantine books; New York
  • Tannen D. 1992 b. That’s not what I meant. Virago; London