Do men use standard forms less than women do?

Do men use standard forms less than women do?

It has been suggested that men prefer vernacular forms because “they carry macho connotations of masculinity and toughness” (Holmes 2001).

It has also been suggested that vernacular forms “have ‘covert prestige’ by contrast with the overt prestige of the standard forms” (Holmes 2001).

An Introduction to Sociolinguistics: Second Edition. By Janet Holmes.

Yes, this is an elementary principle of sociolinguistics. It’s true in most societies but not all. (Don’t ask me for “such”, because I’m not going to drag it out of all my sociolinguistics texts for you. You’ll have to dig that out yourself.)

Another common phenomenon – also an elementary principle of sociolinguistics – is that in societies with class mobility, like the US and Canada, women in the “upper lower class” use more prestige forms than men or women in the middle or upper classes. This is because the people in those higher social classes have things other than language that indicate their social prestige, whereas the women in the “upper lower class” sense that “proper language” is one of the keys to their or their children’s social advancement.

This all goes out the window with women in the “lower lower class”, though, because they’re not near enough to the middle and upper classes to think that language will help them.

Hi Jamie

The observations you make bring up an unusual side issue, would you like to join me?

I often have the discussion with Americans that the class system does not exist in the States. This may be true in comparison to the English system. I am just curious about your free use of this terminology for the US? It seems you are quite different in regards to this perspective.

cheers stew.t.

Stew –

Social class in the sense that it exists in the UK doesn’t exist in the US. You’ll never see a big deal made in the American media about some Boston brahmin marrying a “commoner”, the way you will in Europe, because Americans born into a social class usually don’t stay there all their lives.

However, there definitely are social classes in the US, mainly based on education, income, and to a large degree social pathology or lack thereof. More of it used to be based on race, but that’s not as much of a factor anymore. Some of it also depends on whom one chooses as friends.

The thing is that anyone can end up in any of those classes that he’s capable of. People who resist education, don’t exercise much impulse control, have children out of wedlock, etc., usually either stay in or sink to the lower classes. One of my relatives was the daughter of a respected bank president and wound up a single mother on public assistance, usually drunk.

Frequently, people start out in the lower classes and through education, work and self-discipline rise to the middle class or higher. This is not some kind of fantasy, as cynics might claim. Another of my relatives grew up on a farm with no indoor plumbing – very poor – pushed her way through university (persisting as long as it took) and now would be classified as upper middle class, although actually she is quite rich. There is nothing in her speech or appearance that would mark her as coming from a lower class, because in my area all of the classes speak more or less the same.

However, most Americans remain in the social class of their parents, more through habit or mindset than due to lack of opportunity. Most of them don’t rise or sink. I saw this at a large family reunion full of descendants of people who immigrated in the 1850s. Even though it was more than 100 years later – and most of the people didn’t know each other – they were almost all upper middle class and in similar professions. They were generally lawyers, accountants or small business owners. No doctors, and not many technical people.

Do you think this thread doesn’t belong on this forum?

I didn’t say that.

So why, again, point out that the question is elementary linguistics? Do you need us all to know that you surpassed that level and others a long time ago?

Those which have a standard form/standard forms, right?

Quit fighting and get to the discussion! :twisted:

No, mainly those in which there is hope of social mobility.

Sorry? Men in most societies where there is “hope of social mobility” choose to use the vernacular. Is that what you are saying?

If the discussion is going to involve you bringing out more relatives who are supposedly relevant to this and every discussion, I think I’d rather discuss with some one else.

Is Jamie saying that the middle and upper classes have “impulse control”?

Molly, you don’t believe in standard forms OR in social mobility, so I think you’re done with this discussion.

Bring on the dancing laptops…


Bring on more of Jamie’s relatives. :lol:

There you are. You do believe in them.


Not at all. I said it directly a long time ago, Mr P-ixelking.

Hey, Jamie, would you say that the topics below are elementary questions from Linguistics Level 1?

Bring on your pixels.