Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2019

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English, Linguistics, and Communication

Department Chair or Program Director

Richards, Gary

First Advisor

Lee, Janie

Major or Concentration



Features of women’s speech are typically characterized by excessive politeness and submission in the forms of hedges, fillers, indirect requests, or tag questions. Additionally, women are statistically far less likely to commit interruptions, more likely to commit retrievals, and more likely to use intensifiers, excessive adjectives, and HRT. These features combine to depict women in a negative light. Traditionally, sociolinguistics has examined the ways in which women are stigmatized and how our patriarchal society has conditioned us to view women as vapid, uncertain, unintelligent, and annoying for using these features. For this thesis, I wanted to examine the ways in which one of my most significant linguistic influences, my mother, subverts these expectations of women’s speech in order to assert her social dominance and power. My mother uses joint production, gap times, turn-taking, and strategic interruptions to thwart misogynistic generalizations surrounding the way that women are expected to communicate. Instead of using features of women’s or men’s speech, she redefines gendered linguistic norms to create a new method of oral communication that is free from sexist judgement.