Men, women & language
I Cook, Therefore I Am. How dropping food in fire made us human. Slate
WHY is it that 20th-century physicists could ask some of the most grandiose questions in science, but if a researcher wondered aloud where language came from, the response was derisive at best. Not only can you not answer the question, they were told, you shouldn't even ask... New Scientist
A great review of Deborah Cameron's new book, "The Myth of Mars and Venus." From the reviewer,:
[Cameron] cites the slew of news reports last year claiming that women on average utter 20,000 words a day, while men on average manage only 7,000. This “fact”, from a popular science book called The Female Brain, turned out to be based not on research, but on a self-help book, which itself cited other self-help books, each featuring wildly varying figures. As Cameron concludes, “All the numbers were plucked from thin air. The claims were so variable because they were guesswork.” The invented figures were quietly deleted from reprints of the book — without headlines.
It's been long believed that an uncontroversial difference between men and women is how much they talk: women say many more words in a day than men, and they do it by a huge margin. This nugget crops up all over the place, from gender studies to sociolinguistics, and even language evolution theories have considered it important... did women choose to breed with men who had better language skills? It's always nice when someone does the boring work of trawling through a few years of conversation and word-counting to find that what we think is a given is just not true. Women do talk more, but not by a significant amount. ABCnews, NPR, Science.