I believe the switch from 'lady' to 'woman' was part of the women's movement. 'Lady' was a euphemism for 'woman,' and that was one reason that we wanted to move away from it.
My job is to analyze conversations and discover why communications fail.
A sister is someone who owns part of what you own: a house, perhaps, or a less tangible legacy, like memories of your childhood and the experience of your family.
I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. For part of my life, I was living in Detroit, and I remember a friend of mine commenting she could always tell when I had been speaking to my mother because my New York accent had come back.
I would say 'woman' used to be a noun, and now it is a noun and also an adjective. And words change their functions in that way. It's one of the most common phenomena about words. They start as one thing, and they end up as something else.
For many women, and a fair number of men, saying 'I'm sorry' isn't literally an apology; it's a ritual way of restoring balance to a conversation.
The long history of conversations that family members share contributes not only to how listeners interpret words but also to how speakers choose them.
I think of myself as a writer as much as I think of myself as a linguist and an academic. I really enjoy writing - playing with language and getting just the right metaphor.
Many mothers and daughters are as close as any two people can be, but closeness always carries with it the need - indeed, the desire - to consider how your actions will affect the other person, and this can make you feel that you are no longer in control of your own life.
We tend to look through language and not realize how much power language has.
The study of gender and language might seem at first to be a narrowly focused field, but it is actually as interdisciplinary as they come.
When evidence emerged that Clinton was a devoted mother, Margaret Carlson writing in 'TIME' found her guilty of 'yuppie overdoting on her daughter.'
One of the nice things about the United States is that, wherever you go, people speak the same language. So native New Yorkers can move to San Francisco, Houston, or Milwaukee and still understand and be understood by everyone they meet. Right? Well, not exactly. Or, as a native New Yorker might put it, 'Wrong!'
Everything we say has metamessages indicating how our words are to be interpreted: Is this a serious statement or a joke? Does it show annoyance or goodwill? Most of the time, metamessages are communicated and interpreted without notice because, as far as anyone can tell, the speaker and the hearer agree on their meaning.
In the past, great communicators were great orators, but great communicators today sound conversational, and interrupting is common in conversation. And public discourse is now more about entertainment than enlightenment.
For women, detailed conversation is our lifeblood, while for men it's just not as critical.
There's the bond of a connection and the bond of bondage... When you are connected to somebody, everything each one does affects the other, and it's a kind of bondage. You're not as free as you would be if that person wasn't in your life.
A sister is like yourself in a different movie, a movie that stars you in a different life.
A sister is the one person you can call in the middle of the night when you can't sleep or the one who doesn't want to hear about your problems unless you're ready to do something about them. She's the one who is there when you need her or the one whose absence when you need her hurts the most.
A double bind is far worse than a straightforward damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't dilemma. It requires you to obey two mutually exclusive commands: Anything you do to fulfill one violates the other.
Everything you say in a family carries meaning from all that was said before. So with friends, there is less likelihood of a few words triggering associations from childhood, where our deepest emotions often are rooted.
I am the youngest of three girls. My first linguistics book was a study of 'New York Jewish conversational style'. That was my dissertation.
It is easy to understand why conflict is so often highlighted: Writers of headlines or promotional copy want to catch attention and attract an audience. They are usually under time pressure, which lures them to established, conventionalized ways of expressing ideas in the absence of leisure to think up entirely new ones.
We tend to assume that we have a baseline of speech that's going to be normal in all contexts, but the truth is, we all change our ways of speaking depending on who we're talking to. And so I think it's kind of a gesture of politeness to the people you're speaking to to try to say something in their own idiom.
The trickiest thing about the double bind is that it operates imperceptibly, like shots from a gun with a silencer.
The culture of critique undermines the spirit not only of people in public roles but of those who read about them, afraid to believe in anyone or anything because the next story... will tell them why they shouldn't.
I'm a linguist. I study how people talk to each other and how the ways we talk affect our relationships.
Back when the powerful 19th-century senator Henry Clay was called 'the great compromiser,' achieving a compromise really was considered great.
Mothers and daughters find in each other the source of great comfort but also of great pain. We talk to each other in better and worse ways than we talk to anyone else.
For girls and women, talk is the glue that holds a relationship together - and the explosive that can blow it apart. That's why you can think you're having a perfectly amiable chat, then suddenly find yourself wounded by the shrapnel from an exploded conversation.
In a world of status, independence is key, because a primary means of establishing status is to tell others what to do, and taking orders is a marker of low status. Though all humans need both intimacy and independence, women tend to focus on the first and men on the second. It is as if their lifeblood ran in different directions.
Asian cultures... place great value on avoiding open expression of disagreement and conflict because they emphasize harmony.
In this world, conversations are negotiations for closeness in which people try to seek and give confirmation and support, and to reach consensus. They try to protect themselves from others' attempts to push them away.
Our spirits are corroded by living in an atmosphere of unrelenting contention - an argument culture.
Each underestimates her own power and overestimates the other's.
My mother cared a lot about clothes. It was a point of friction because when I was a teenager, and I only wanted to wear my father's shirts, and I never wanted to wear makeup, she would say: 'Put on lipstick.' That was her thing.
I can't tell you how many times I heard from younger sisters that their older sisters were bossy and judgmental.
People vary. You change your style, your hair, and the way you dress. Talking differently will be a part of that.
The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation - or a relationship.
I have two sisters; one is two years older, and one is eight years older. That helped me understand how completely different sister relationships can be.
I interviewed more than 100 women about their sisters, but if they also had brothers, I asked them to compare. Most said they talked to their sisters more often, at greater length and, yes, about more personal topics. This often meant that they felt closer to their sisters, but not always.
There is probably no such thing as a level playing field in political campaigns.
When Clinton first appeared on the national stage back in 1992, the young wife of the Arkansas governor running for president, she kept her natural-brown hair off her face with a headband.
I was one of those daughters who saw my mother as my enemy when I was a teen.
Much of my work over the years has developed the premise that women's styles of friendship and conversation aren't inherently better than men's, simply different.
Communication is a continual balancing act, juggling the conflicting needs for intimacy and independence. To survive in the world, we have to act in concert with others, but to survive as ourselves, rather than simply as cogs in a wheel, we have to act alone.
As a sociolinguist, I want to know how cultural differences affect the ways people talk and listen. My research method, inspired by the work of Robin Lakoff and John Gumperz of the University of California at Berkeley, is sociolinguistic microanalysis. I tape-record and transcribe naturally occurring conversations.