REPRESENTATION OF MALE AND FEMALE SPEECH BEHAVIOUR IN MODERN BRITISH DRAMA

Abstract. Issues of gender have moved to the foreground of the
sociological, psychological and linguistic research over the past
decades. The traditional focus of gender studies has been on cultural and sociological factors that underlie stereotypical ideas
about femininity and masculinity. Gender is one of the key factors defining the place of an individual in society, while gender
identity, which affects the mostprofound aspects of the personality, is crucial to the development of human self.
Ever since the emergence of gender studies as a new interdisciplinary field, the problem of gender-related factors in speech behavior has captivated researchers.
Initially, the term “gender” applied exclusively to psychological,
social, cultural, and sociocultural characteristics associated with
femininity and masculinity; it also encompassed stereotypical
ideas about roles and features considered appropriate or desirable
for women and men. It should be noted that gender issues in that
period were primarily addressed by so-called “women’s studies”
that theorized the interrelation between the sexes as well as informed the social campaign for equal opportunities for women,
for women’s liberation and personal autonomy.
In modern gender studies, however, the emphasis has shifted
from gendered language use in various settings to linguistic construction of gender in a broad variety of texts and discourses.
The interest in gender constructionism stemmed from the need to
overcome a number of methodological errors that had beset gender studies in linguistics, notably, the overgeneralization of research findings and their extrapolation onto broader contexts
with little or no account for social status, age, ethnicity andother
important variables.
Mental representations of reality are known to be engaged in a
complex relationship with the linguistic picture of the world.
Language shapes the attitude of the individual to the world.
However, the role of language is not only to transmit messages,
but also to organize the content to be encoded in the message.
The text contains meanings contained in both worldview and in
the artistic picture of the world. It is important that the artistic
picture is determined by the value system of the author. Modern
cognitive linguistics can be said to regard text as a window on
the author’s mentality and worldview.
The article examines and analyzes the linguistic mechanisms of
gender construction in modern British drama. The speech profiles of male and female literary characters reflect the authors’
ideas about how women and men should speak. What is more,
the character’s speech provides valuable insights into social attitudes relating to the acceptability or unacceptability of various
forms of verbal behavior for a man or a woman. Our study attempts to identify the most prevalent vocabulary features, grammar structures and conflict management strategies used by British authors for male and female characters.
The study is based on 90 dialogs selected from plays by modern
British authors. The sample was limited to works by male playwrights; thus, it may be assumed that the material potentially reflects some features of the masculine perception, interpretation
and reproduction of the gender features of speech.
Keywords:linguistics, gender, conflict, artistic discourse, communicative roles

Timofei Bychkunov 1 , Natalia Magnes 2
1, 2
St. Petersburg State University
St. Petersburg, Russia,
¹e-mail: tibychkunov@gmail.com
²e-mail: duprass@mail.ru

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