Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I'd like to learn woman-French, please.

The Guardian has published some excerpts from linguist Deborah Cameron's new book The Myth of Mars and Venus.
The idea that men and women "speak different languages" has itself become a dogma, treated not as a hypothesis to be investigated or as a claim to be adjudicated, but as an unquestioned article of faith. Our faith in it is misplaced.
Cameron cites Mark Liberman's heroic denunciation of the false claims made in Louann Brizendine's The Female Brain. (You can hear Charlotte Perkins Gilman snorting in the background. "The brain is not an organ of sex. As well speak of a female liver.")

Liberman closes the loop by posting on the Guardian's coverage of Cameron's work.

One of the most interesting things that Cameron mentions is that she's noticed a trend in contemporary analysis: all social and political problems are attributed to problems in communication, as if, if we could just talk, everything would be solved. I'm not sure what to make of this yet, but it's an observation that strikes me as plausible. A quality of the information age, I suppose.

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