Article published in:Compiling and analysing the Spoken British National Corpus 2014
Edited by Tony McEnery, Robbie Love and Vaclav Brezina
[International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 22:3] 2017
► pp. 345–374
Do women (still) use more intensifiers than men?
Recent change in the sociolinguistics of intensifiers in British English
This study investigates how age, gender, social class and dialect influence how frequently speakers of British English use intensifiers (e.g. very) in private conversations and whether this has changed over the last two decades. With data drawn from over 600 speakers and 4M words included in the Spoken British National Corpus (1994 and 2014 Sample), it is the most comprehensive study of intensifier usage to date, taking into account 111 intensifier variants. Results show that, in most age groups and social classes, men use intensifiers less frequently than women, and gender differences have diminished to a very limited extent, notably for the middle class. Moreover, intensification rate has increased across the board over time. This could be due to a shift towards a stereotypically more feminine communicative style as the perception of gender roles has changed, a process by which the middle class might have been particularly affected.
Keywords: gender, diachronic change, intensifiers, social class, age
Published online: 23 November 2017
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