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Duels and Duets: Why Men and Women Talk So Differently
     

Duels and Duets: Why Men and Women Talk So Differently

by John L. Locke
 

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Why do men and women talk so differently? And how do these differences interfere with communication between the sexes? In search of an answer to these and other questions, John Locke takes the reader on a fascinating journey, from human evolution through ancient history to the present, revealing why men speak as they do when attempting to impress or seduce women,

Overview

Why do men and women talk so differently? And how do these differences interfere with communication between the sexes? In search of an answer to these and other questions, John Locke takes the reader on a fascinating journey, from human evolution through ancient history to the present, revealing why men speak as they do when attempting to impress or seduce women, and why women adopt a very different way of talking when bonding with each other, or discussing rivals. When men talk to men, Locke argues, they frequently engage in a type of 'dueling', locking verbal horns with their rivals in a way that enables them to compete for the things they need, mainly status and sex. By contrast, much of women's talk sounds more like a verbal 'duet', a harmonious way of achieving their goals by sharing intimate thoughts and feelings in private.

Editorial Reviews

It is played out in tiny mountain villages and Silicon Valley boardrooms: Men verbally duel, while women exchange information and share confidences. According to speech expert/author John L. Locke (Eavesdropping: An Intimate History), the differences between men and women's social interactions aren't just the fodder for a thousand sitcoms, they are the living evidence of deep-rooted biological differences in gender mating strategies. It is impossible to peruse Duels & Duets without applying its acute observations to our own daily experiences. A linguist guides readers through an ever-hot topic: gender differences.

From the Publisher
Endorsements: "The physicist Ernest Rutherford supposedly commented that all science was "either physics or stamp collecting." If that is true, then John Locke's book represents a rejection of stamp collecting and an embrace of physics, as applied to questions about the history of human language. He uses data on sex and gender differences in language use to formulate a theory about the origins of language in the biological challenges faced by males and females during the period that language, and humanness itself, emerged. In the process, though, he also collects and conveys an engaging and wide-ranging array of facts and stories about language, from biologists, archeologists, anthropologists, historians, and linguists, ensuring his reader has the aesthetic experience of the stamp collector together with the intellectual experience of the physicist." —Catherine Snow, Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

" ... an intriguing journey down the often uneven cobblestone road that is communication between the sexes ... It certainly merits space on the bookshelf of anyone interested in how men and women contrast and compliment each other on the verbal landscape." —Richard G. Bribiescas, Professor & Chair, Yale University, Department of Anthropology

"Accessible and entertaining, speech expert John Locke's book explores a provocative hypothesis: that well-known differences in men and women's speech patterns have a deep-rooted biological basis, related to sex differences in evolved mating strategies and preferences. Duels and Duets is sure to be controversial, but is so packed with intriguing facts and wry historical observations that it cannot be ignored." —W. Tecumseh Fitch, University of Vienna

"An exhilarating race through some of the issues closest to our hearts - why we speak and tell stories, and how there come to be sex differences in style." —Robin Dunbar, Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford

"Showing his usual delinquency with respect to disciplinary boundaries, Locke provides an illuminating synthesis and extension of a fragmented literature." —Dr David Good, King's College Cambridge

"With the lightest of touches underpinned by enormous scholarship this book will nudge those few remaining diehards into taking seriously biologically based sex-differences in language." —Dr Tom Dickins, Reader in Evolutionary Psychology, University of East London

"Locke is a true Renaissance man, weaving disparate sources of evidence into a brilliant, pithy, and thoroughly thought-provoking pageturner." —Anne van Kleeck, PhD, Professor and Callier Research Scholar, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas

Library Journal
Some readers may ask why, after the publication of such popular books as Deborah Tannen's You Just Don't Understand (1990) and John Gray's Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (1990), we need another book on this topic. Because it's been a generation since those came out. Locke (linguistics, Lehmann Coll., CUNY; Eavesdropping: An Intimate History) acknowledges the contributions of these earlier works while pointing out that they provided "no formal account of the reasons why men and women use language differently in the first place." He rejects explanations of men's and women's different speech patterns based on learning and culture, preferring evolutionary need as the basis for why men verbally spar while women harmonize. VERDICT Specialists in the field may be more willing to tackle this scholarly treatment than general readers, who might find more useful, everyday ideas about how to be verbally facile (with any gender) in Daniel Menaker's A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation.—Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521887137
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
08/31/2011
Pages:
252
Product dimensions:
8.74(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.68(d)

Meet the Author

John L. Locke is currently Professor of Linguistics at Lehman College, City University of New York. His articles have appeared in a broad range of journals, including the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Evolution and Human Behavior, Behavioral and Brain Sciences and Language Sciences. He has published over a hundred articles, chapters and books. His books include The De-Voicing of Society (1998) and Eavesdropping: An Intimate History (2010).

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