Gender and Language, Vol 1, No 1 (2007)

Unanswered Questions and unquestioned assumptions in the study of language and gender: Female Verbal Superiority

Deborah Cameron
Issued Date: 18 Jan 2007


This article examines the recent rise of a neo-Darwinian discourse on language, sex differences and human evolution in which the idea that females’ verbal skills are superior
to males’, and that this difference is ‘hard wired’, has become for many scholars an unquestioned assumption. I argue that this assumption relies on a selective and in some cases very inaccurate reading of the relevant linguistic evidence. At the same time I suggest that language and gender scholars, for both intellectual and political reasons, need to engage directly with the current resurgence of biological essentialism,
and that this engagement needs to be with the science as well as the ideology

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.2007.1.1.15


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