Critical Overview: Gender and Tentative Language

  • Kristina Sommerlund Aarhus University
Keywords: sociolinguistics, gender differences, women, tentative language, hedging, English Linguistics 3


This article is concerned with the relationship between tentative language and gender. In 1975, linguist Robin Lakoff hypothesized that women tended to use unassertive speech forms because of their inferior and powerless position in society. On the basis of these assertions by Lakoff, this article seeks to create a critical overview of various studies that have consulted the issue of women’s use of tentative language. Specifically, the article is concerned with hedging, investigating whether women have been found to use this linguistic device more often than men. The article consults five different studies on gender and tentative language, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of these studies, and finally, the article discusses whether the studies overall show any significant differences in the way men and women use unassertive speech forms.


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How to Cite
Sommerlund, K. (2017). Critical Overview: Gender and Tentative Language. Leviathan: Interdisciplinary Journal in English, (1).