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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The self-help book that isn't. 
30th-Aug-2005 04:09 pm
It gets shelved in the Self-Help section of bookstores, but this is actually a sociolinguistic and rhetorical treatise that everyone, from academic to mechanic to house husband, should read:

You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen
Ever wondered why men won't ask for directions? Or, better yet, ever wonder why so many other people wonder it on occasion? Well, the answer to both is this book; Deborah Tannen sparked a revolution 15 years ago when she published this book. In it, she posits, among other things, that men are more interested in "report-talk" and hierarchical relations, while women are more interested in "rapport-talk" and intergroup harmony. As such, conflicts between men and women arise when each views the behavior of others through the wrong style. In short, men and women live in two very different conceptual worlds, but both assume that they're living in the same one. The text is rich with information and possibility; while in college, I used Tannen's theory for cross-cultural dialogue and rhetorical discussion. The same theory might be applied to literary analysis. (So much usable stuff there.) In fact, Tannen does some off-the-cuff literary analysis herself--more than I would have preferred, actually, considering that she was using mock situations to illustrate what she considers to be very real phenomena. The book is also an excellent "how-to" guide for recognizing male and female speech--and reproducing it when necessary. I know that my speech is manly in that I am often conscious on some level of hierarchy; I've always hated asking for directions and am quick to disagree, for example. I also rarely indulge in small talk. The only time I am somewhat consistently feminine in my speech patterns with family. If you want to see a conflict of the likes Tannen describes in her book, you should watch me and my father go at it at some point. ^^; Though I'd never read the entire book until now (only excerpts), I have been utilizing deliberately female speech for years (especially *sighs* in Korea) on a conscious level when such is expedient. Highly recommended!

Oh, and before I forget, here's a select quote from the book for gynocrat_rex: ^__^
Linguist Deborah Schiffrin showed that in the conversations of working-class Eastern European Jewish speakers--both male and female--in Philadelphia, friendly argument was a means of being sociable. (160)
30th-Aug-2005 08:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Finally...someone who understands! XDDD
31st-Aug-2005 02:19 am (UTC)
I read that sentence and thought immediately of you. ^_~

Oh, and incidentally, the author herself is of NYC and Jewish extraction.
30th-Aug-2005 08:59 pm (UTC)
wtf? can we talk about this later? *looks around* seen the remote? *wanders off to the kitchen to stare into the refrigerator*
31st-Aug-2005 02:22 am (UTC)
wtf? can we talk about this later?

Hmm? Don't agree with Tannen's thesis?

*looks around* seen the remote? *wanders off to the kitchen to stare into the refrigerator*

*laughs* Are you one of those people who wants their TV to be on their refrigerator door? ^_^
31st-Aug-2005 03:14 am (UTC)
*grunts* just trying to communicate like a guy.

in reality, i never watch television. ever. (except to watch ewa beach win the little league world series...)
31st-Aug-2005 10:20 am (UTC)
*grunts* just trying to communicate like a guy.

*laughs* It was actually more complicated than that! There are instances of cross-gender communication where men don't *stop* talking when maybe they should, such as when giving technical information or expert advice.
30th-Aug-2005 10:21 pm (UTC)
I got in the habit of asking directions long before I heard I wasn't supposed to ^_^;
31st-Aug-2005 02:20 am (UTC)
Heh. Just gotta ask. ^_^ Do you think your conversational style is more typically male or female?
31st-Aug-2005 01:10 pm (UTC)
Hmm.. Well I think it varies, but I'd almost have to say more female >_< At the very least I don't like conflict, and I actually do usually feel uncomfortable trying to converse with other guys..
You're definitely more manly than me with conversation ^_~
31st-Aug-2005 01:22 pm (UTC)
Actually, one of the things Tannen says is that many men say the same thing: That they prefer talking to women. Women don't jockey for dominance in the same way that men do in conversation, so the theory goes, so these guys find it easier to talk to them tha to other men, who are constantly trying to challenge them.
31st-Aug-2005 02:10 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what that says about me ^^;; I also have the problem that with most guys, I seriously can't get a word in edgewise.. It's like they all want to give me lectures on things I don't give a crap about >_< Very annoying....
31st-Aug-2005 02:18 pm (UTC)
Though I will hold my ground with talkative guys, it does wear me out, particularly when they go on and on about things that don't interest me...and I will assume antagonistic feeling when arguing with someone when there might not be any if they make appeals to emotion while arguing.

For what it's worth--yesterday when I said I had a bad dream? And you responded with a bad dream of your own? That's classic female behavior. ^_~ By offering a similar experience of your own, you were evoking empathy/sympathy, a horizontal connection between us versus an up-down vertical relationship (which men are supposedly more tempted to do).
31st-Aug-2005 04:41 pm (UTC)
That's classic female behavior. ^_~


versus an up-down vertical relationship (which men are supposedly more tempted to do).

Like a "well let me tell you what that dream means.."?

31st-Aug-2005 04:42 pm (UTC)
Like a "well let me tell you what that dream means.."?

*laughs* Yeah. Exactly. ^_~
1st-Sep-2005 11:22 am (UTC)
I'm not sure what that says about me. I like talking to men because they don't do the touchy feely group thing. Of course, many guys are very taken aback when I start challenging their opinions^_^
1st-Sep-2005 12:38 pm (UTC)
*chuckles* I'm the good academic, so when I perceive an intellectual discussion, I will retreat into "male" speech. After I learned of Tannen's work, I deliberately worked to make the unimportant stuff more feminine. The biggest verbal fights I've ever had involves me and a (older) guy, though; they naturally refuse to admit that I'm right when I know I am (and I will only argue with you if I'm sure).
30th-Aug-2005 11:16 pm (UTC)
I almost got that book! I'll have to check it out.
31st-Aug-2005 02:23 am (UTC)
Do! I admire Tannen very much; she's one of those delightful academic writers who use simple and straightforward language to express very complex--and practically applicable--thoughts.
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