Older men and younger women
A corpus-based study of quotative use in American English
This article investigates the effect of the external variables speaker age and sex on the use of the quotatives be like, go, be all, and say in present-day spoken American English. The study is based on a large computerized corpus of naturally-occurring conversation collected from a wide range of speakers across the United States. The results show that there are striking differences in the way that men and women under the age of forty use these quotatives. Young women are in the lead in the use of be like, but the use of this quotative decreases dramatically among women in their late 20s and in their 30s. In contrast, the use of be like increases among men in their late 20s. The patterns of use described here represent a departure from previous findings and suggest that the effect of speaker’s age and sex on quotative use is more complex than has been posited so far.
Keywords: quotative, sex, age, American English, convergence, accommodation theory, evolutionary psychology
Published online: 06 April 2007
Cited by 15 other publications
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