YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND: Talk Between the Sexes by Deborah Tannen

YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND: Talk Between the Sexes

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Here, Tannen expands relentlessly upon a single chapter in her That's Not What I Meant! (1985)--the one that dealt with gender differences in conversational style and that, she says, prompted 90% of the subsequent requests for interviews, articles, and lectures. It all begins, Tannen Finds, in childhood. Boys tend to congregate in hierarchal groups, play competitive games, and engage in one-upmanship and jockeying for status. Gifts relate one-on-one or in small groups and tend to play games (hopscotch, jump-rope) in which everyone gets a turn. Gifts also spend much time gossiping or negotiating differences. As adults, women's language, Tannen says, is usually nondemanding and negotiable. ""Would you like to do such and such?"" a woman typically asks, and is then hurt when the response is ""no."" A woman will discuss life's ""downers,"" expecting sympathy, and will be turned off when her man comes up with a solution. Tannen ranges widely through linguistic research, poetry, and fiction to document her points. Most interesting: transcripts of a series of videotaped conversations of school-age, same-sex groups, which bolster Tannen's observation that girls and boys speak and act as though they belong to ""different species."" Persuasive--but Tannen hammers home her limited number of points with such force that the reader cries uncle halfway through the book.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1990
Publisher: Morrow