Referring to different authors, males and females exhibit differences regarding to written communication as well as face-to face interactions. Colley & Todd (2002) explicate in their paper that these gender differences exist by proving it in various studies.
The first argument they defend is that men and women distinguish between male “report talk” and female “rapport talk”, which means that males and females tend to differ in the frequency respective written and personal communication (Tannen 1990). As one of the reasons for the realization of the different studies they mention the fact that female spoken language is weaker than male language in which they also use hedges more often, and express themselves supportive and rational, whereas men use assertive and competitive language (Colley & Todd 2002).
Another study they refer to is Herring (1993, 1994), who showed that men and women also differ in written communication styles by analysing the linguistic style and rhetoric of messages posted on discussion lists. Here, male participants tended to use an adversarial style, ridiculing, challenging and criticizing others but also frequent and long contributions, sarcasm, rhetorical questions, and strong assertions were part of it. They also used obscene language and personal insults by having a pseudonym which is usual in discussion lists. In contrast females were more supportive and personal by appreciating and thanking others, as well as agreeing on others and showing interest by asking questions.
They also mention Baron (1998) who explained that even though an electronic mail differs from a discussion list, because it is usually a one-to-one communication, where the recipient is known or can be identified, both forms of communication have a relatively informal style including a more casual lexicon, less careful editing and their own stylistic features. Another study they refer to is Thomson & Murachver’s (2001), who examined e-mails that participants had sent to close friends of the same gender, coming to the conclusion that also e- mails exhibit linguistic differences in relation to genders. Though it was possible to identify the
gender of the sender easily. Again, women used a more affective language by mentioning emotions and giving more personal information but also apologizing more and making self- derogatory comments, while men more often tended to give opinions and use insults. They also proved that gender differences are more obvious when the sender and receptor are of the same sex and how communication with different sexes influences the style of their written language, coming to the conclusion that their language style gradually assimilates, and the correspondent’s style had a greater influence on the style of the participant’s e-mails.
Colley ; Todd (2002) examined in their study whether there are differences in writing an e-mail to same- and opposite-sex friends, where participants had to describe their recent holiday. Here, “For female senders, a higher proportion of e-mails to males contained humor, references to the tastes of the recipient, and multiple exclamation marks.” (Colley ; Todd 2002, p. 386). They also came to the conclusion that men usually use more self-referred personal pronouns like “I or me”, whereas women use personal pronouns such as “you or your” and “we or our” more often. Nevertheless, women tend to refer to themselves more often, writing e- mails to men.
Referring to Lakoff (1975), Colley ; Todd also explain that males and females have various reasons for adopting certain communication styles and as a reference to Herring (1993, 1994), one of the main-reasons for the differences in language might be traditional gender roles, that tempt men and women to adapt to traditional gender role stereotypes. That means that gender differences in stylistic features in spoken and written language are a result of adopting a style depending on gender, which is prescribed by society.
Considering all the mentioned arguments, it is fair to say that gender differences in communication style between male and female authors exist. That does not only include spoken language style, but also written style in diverse ways, such as e-mails, discussion lists and more. Here, males and females differ in their content they write about, but also in the way they write. That has different reasons which are a result of cultural transmission. Regarding to male “report talk” and female “rapport talk”, it is obvious that this assertion is correct but as described in the text, similarities between males and females must be considered, too (Colley ; Todd 2002). At least it can be said that genders are categorical in their use of language in general but it is also possible that women adopt “report talk” and men “rapport talk”, that depends on de individual person himself and does not depend on its gender.