Mobile-phone-made language

Australian feminist Dale Spender was such a hit when I was a baby feminist that lecture theatres would be packed out when she came to talk in Aotearoa.

Her work in linguistics – taping conversations between students and then analysing them – posited something radical and new in the 1980s.  Women doing “support work” in conversation with men.

“They asked the right questions, provided encouragement and feedback, made the male speaker feel important. But this meant that men did most of the talking.  Women who did talk for more than about one third of the conversation were most often described as bossy, aggressive, rude, and as dominating the conversation, even when they got much less than a 50 per cent share.”

I remember when I read her classic book Man Made Language secretly timing my conversations with all my male friends.  And being absolutely appalled at how little even a raving feminist like myself – I was in my youth remember – talked with her pro-feminist men-folk.

And trying to talk about it with my male friends and being, ahem, shouted down.

But Dale has seriously lost the plot these days.  I mean seriously.  She is defending mobile phones as producing new literacies for new times for goddess sake, and telling us we should treat texting as a serious language form.

Such study would be far more engaging and relevant than the constant carping that txtng is vandalism, the mark of the illiterate, and a pernicious way of undermining standards.

Excuse while I slink off to the corner and carp in a literate fashion.  Only after the men-folk have finished, though 😉

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