Across Cultures: Pakistani All-Female Speaking Rituals
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A common finding in Language and Gender studies is that women aim for a united conversational dynamic, while men tend towards the opposite. However, I argue that native culture plays a more significant role in Language and Gender studies than has previously been considered. To do so, I compared previous conclusions—from Jennifer Coates’s Gossip Revisited (2011)—to my own drawn from data collected during a gathering of Pakistani Muslim women and analyzed that data, considering culture as well as gender. The following hypotheses were made prior to collection of data: Culture, religion, and ethnicity will heavily influence the frequency and overall use of certain, typically female, linguistic rituals generally observed in Western contexts, and certain rituals will be used in an exaggerated or minimized capacity in comparison to Coates’ findings. Over five days, I observed three conversations among a group of five to eight Pakistani women, aged between 50 and 60. The following rituals were observed: interruptions, floor sharing, tag questions, code-switching, minimal responses, “butterfinger buts,” and razzing. Certain rituals were just as consistent among my participants as they were in Coates’. However, use of razzing, “butterfinger buts,” floor sharing, and tag questions differed greatly—all were used in a different context and capacity than expected. These rituals were significantly affected by culture, religion, and ethnicity; further analysis revealed that additional factors such as age and familiarity between speakers also play a role in motivating ritualistic behavior.