Grammar and Gender: A Comparative Study of the Integration and Organisation of Meanings in Selected Male and Female-authored Proseworks

Toyese Najeem Dahunsi

Abstract


Studies have established gender-based variations in human’s use of language, particularly in the areas of grammar and lexis.  This study investigated language use in prose-works involving male and female writers, aimed at finding out whether there were grammar related variations in the use of language by the selected male and female writers.  The framework adopted for analysis was the Hallidayan notion of Clause Complexes and Embedded Clauses and how writers made conscious choices from the grammar of logical meaning in their different narratives.  Five male-authored and five female-authored prose-works were selected for the study.  A part of each prose-work containing fifty (50) consecutive sentences was randomly excised and analysed into clause simplexes, clause complexes and embedded clauses, and the frequencies of these clause types were determined.  The result clearly showed that the male authors had higher frequencies of clause complexes than simplexes; whereas the female writers had lower frequencies of complexes but higher frequencies of simplexes.  It also showed higher frequencies of embedded clauses in male-authored texts than in female-authored ones. The results therefore suggested that narratives of male writers tend to be more syntactically complex (because of higher frequencies of clustered clauses and varying functional and semantic relationships among component clauses) and semantically complex (because of a much tighter integration of meanings through clause clustering and embedding).  The narratives of female writers, on the other hand, tend to be syntactically and semantically simple (with higher use of simplexes, but less use of complexes and embedded clauses).


Keywords


Grammar, gender, clause complexes, clause simplexes, embedded clauses

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.6n.1p.275

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