Gender FluencyAn examination into the nature of discourse between young men and women in Japan, and its effect on conversation ability
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What are the general patterns of dysfluency between males and females when they interact? Gains in fluency are hard to come by, but more so when one has little to no awareness of how poor one’s fluency actually is and how to make real progress in it. We found that there may be fewer differences in typical male and female speech and disfluency, leading us to think that the issue is not so much “gender difference” as much as what Cameron (1992) notes, “the difference gender makes”. In short, while the differences do exist, it is important to account for more complex patterns in gendered speech between strangers, acquaintances, close associates, and even in group settings to examine how issues such as balance, cooperativeness, solidarity might change, and how fluency and dysfluency are affected. As the saying goes, ‘it is a man’s world’ and for women to better convey their meaning and intentions and more easily move up the career ladder, they should be aware of how these issues in their communication.
Understanding one’s fluency comes about best through examining videotapes and transcription of one’s speech. Fluency is measured by production, so each person should ask if they are cooperatively contributing their stories and opinions, and asking a variety of questions, not only for their own interest but to build an interesting interaction. Too many conversations tend to be a series of questions with little or no follow-up, and are often unbalanced, with one speaker doing most of the talking. Look at your speaking rate and intonation. Dysfluency manifests in your pausing and how long you can talk before pausing. Too many micropauses become quite annoying. Word fragments, the use of the native tongue, abandoned sentences, uncontrolled rephrasing, or unintended repetition are more issues you should be aware of. Also, nonverbal issues can be a factor in how you come across. Examining one’s facial expressions and eye contact can greatly influence the quality and outcome of an interaction.