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The Line Essay

1445 words - 6 pages

The Line
There is a line across the desktop in the middle. In most primary schools, when a pair of deskmates is a boy and a girl, they will carve such a line, as inviolable as the 38th Parallel, to divide the territory. There is an invisible line in the high school refectory. Boys and girls seat themselves in two parts of the room. The line is a tacit agreement on which concurred by them. There are quite a few lines, perceptible or imperceptible, that reflect the differences between male and female in nearly all aspects of life, no matter how old they are. Language is another field that proves the existence of sexual lines. It`s so easy to notice the line between men and women when it comes ...view middle of the document...

It`s kind of fact. “No matter what the topic, girl talk entails the rapid disclosure of details, with the expectation of immediate and enthusiastic reciprocation,” As Rafelman continues, “The male verbal strategy is to divulge as few personal details as possible (318)”. She points out the two different strategies, or “guiding ideologies of talking” which indicates that men and women are offering and expecting different things. However Macaulay thinks people certainly will apply different verbal strategies to different activities. He says, “To the extent that these activities differ between males and females, it is to be expected that their language will differ. This much is obvious. (309)”. Although men and women do adapt their speaking to various of social contexts, the language differences still exist even under the same condition because it`s men`s and women`s r ideologies that decide their own strategies. In this way, I believe Rafelman is correct in her claim. For instance, I used to observe people at funeral. Men tend to use a heavy tone and show a deep feeling of grief while women often express their love and sadness with tears in their eyes, or just burst into tears. The language line isn`t a made-up, it just lies there, anywhere as long as you can name it.

Is it innate or acquired? Or is the difference the result of the interaction of nature and nurture? (If it`s all about nature, then there is no need to debate on this issue.)
Macaulay has done his homework. He refers to a survey of the literature up till 1975 and says, “I found that none of the studies provided convincing evidence of consistent sex differences in language development (310)”. What makes it hard for me to believe is that he provides no details about this survey, like any other tests and studies he mentions in his essay. I cannot answer this nature-versus-nurture question exactly considering the limited resources I`ve had for the time being. But let`s step back and say there is no linguistic differences by nature, the existence of differences has make it self-evident that outside environment and acquired knowledge have considerable influence on the ways men and women use language. Rafelman thinks the fact that women are not likely to blow their own horns is related to the early training. She says “Women are not taught to blow their own horns (320).” And I believe men are not born to be blowing their own horns either, they get it from outside world. They imitate and learn from outside surroundings and other people.

Technically, all capable men and women are able to speak the same sentences in completely the same way, but they choose to be different. Rafelman takes the story of publicist Liza Herz as example. Herz finds that “witty women do make men nervous, and then things feel awkward. To them. A woman with a good sense of humour is one who laughs at their (men) jokes (320)”. Therefore, she reins herself in her sense of humor. If a woman tells an excellent joke...

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