last night, i actually had a good linguistics discourse with calvin, wong and nina. dr faiz ended the lecture early, so we headed over to maulana for a drink and intellectual discussion on the language.
particularly interesting was the discussion on hedges. in linguistics, hedges are like responses of “er…”, “um…” or “cool…”, anything that just simply fills in gaps in a conversation. studies were being done to reveal that women use more hedges in their speeches as compared to men. studies are now being done to find out why. according to nina, there is a hypothesis that states women take longer to think i.e. men think faster than women. another hypothesis elaborates that women use more hedges because they are not confident of themselves.
i must differ. i told them that on the contrary, it is because women think more than men, that is the reason for the use of hedges. it is proven that women have a wider vocabulary than men, therefore, the process of lexical and semantic selaction takes longer for women… and then, of course, is the process of syntactic construction- how to arrange strings of speeches before saying it out. because of women’s more complicated set of registers, this causes hedges.
at this point, calvin pointed out an interesting assumption this formed the basis for my deduction:that people actually think before they speak. ah, a classic discussion. do people think before they speak, or speak first- and then they think? none can be a more complicated contemplation. this is extended by the question of who thinks (or not thinks) more? men or women?
well, i cannot assume that men don’t think. i cannnot assume that all women think either. but, as i have said, because of their more diverse set of lexical choices, women’s process of thinking takes a longer time. this does not mean that she is less confident. i wouldn’t dare to imply that. in fact, this phenomenon of being confident can only mean that less thought happened. but on the assumption that thought does take place, a woman would hypothetically take longer to decide and speak than men.
there is also the generalisation that men resort to physical violences quicker than women. in cda, the two ways to convince a person is by fists or by words. having resort to physical methods assumes the giving up on words as a means of getting things done. the giving up on words assumes the giving up on thought as a way of solving a problem. prove that men think less than women.
though i would happily turn this into a good male-bashing episode, i concluded the discussion with an analysis which returned us to the equality factor: although theories prove that women have wider vocabularies than men; things like women use 5,000 words a day and men using only 3,000 words a day, both are able to execute daily functions in just an effective and efficient manner. this, of course, includes the physical violence methods. so on the initial hypotheses on hedges, i agree that women may take longer to think (but this in not a bad thing. between thinking and beating, i’d opt for thought… most of the time). but i don’t agree that hedges imply that women are less confident. if anything, it shows that there are more careful with their words and constructions, making them even more confident of their speech. men, resorting to physical force, implies that they are not confident of their powers of persuasion.
i’d love to elaborate more. but i want to go home now. anyone wants to take me on a thesis of this?