Kelli Rossman Comment [M. Lane1]: SIGNED: M. Lane –
AP English Language and Composition
Researched Argument Comment [M. Lane2]: This is the title of your
book, not the title of your paper.
SECTION I: INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT
Conversations are a part of our daily lives. People have captivating conversations with
friends, family, and coworkers throughout the day; small talk is made with strangers. Many
times, individuals find themselves in a place where they interpret a message differently than the
other person intended during a conversation. Could these mixed messages be due to gender
differences? Deborah Tannen specifically describes the variation in conversational styles
between men and women. In her book, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Comment [M. Lane3]: Name it.
Conversation, she goes on to describe report talk and rapport talk, which are common types of Comment [M. Lane4]: 5.3 – see differences in
punctuation with which/that
speaking that occur between genders. Men strive for a superior status to others to uphold a more
powerful position in communication. Women, on the other hand, tend to maintain equality and
like to have close relationships with other people while in conversation. Tannen argues that the
way people speak as women and men is implanted on us from an early age and can be considered
cross-cultural communication. Is it logical to say that all people are raised with the same
conversational styles? All people are unique and have their own distinctive speaking styles,
which are not mentioned in Tannen’s book. The diverse communication styles of men and
women contribute to the asymmetries that occur in conversations day after day in our lives.
SECTION II: THE AUTHOR’S BACKGROUND
A professor at Georgetown University, Deborah Tannen teaches linguistics and is the
author of several books that describe the affects of language on relationships (georgetown.edu).
Tannen’s experience teaching at a university contributes to her credibility. It is quite obvious in Comment [M. Lane5]: 12.1
Comment [M. Lane6]: 16.1 – very wordy
her book that she had performed a great amount of research prior to writing to make her
argument legit. Her credibility shows through at the beginning of her book and also through her Comment [M. Lane7]: write out
Deborah Tannen describes why she wrote You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men
in Conversation at the preface of the book. Tannen describes how she received feedback from
her previous book, That’s Not What I Meant, because readers wanted to hear more about gender
and conversational styles. The responses she received sparked some curiosity for her to look
further into this topic. Because of her many accomplishments, Deborah Tannen has been
featured as a guest on several television shows. She has also written in several major newspapers
and magazines about her works, such as Newsweek, Time, and USA Today (georgetown.edu). Comment [M. Lane8]: 6.3
The position that Tannen upholds at Georgetown University and her many accomplishments Comment [M. Lane9]: 16.1
emphasizes the dedication she has to further explore the nature of conversations, and this
contributes to make her a reliable source for knowledge about this topic.
SECTION III: THE BOOK’S ARGUMENT
Deborah Tannen argues that boys and girls grow up speaking different languages and
continue to do so as adults. She alludes to the argument that “talk between women and men is
cross-cultural communication”as early as the preface of the book (18). What exactly is this cross- Comment [M. Lane10]: 15.2
cultural communication? Mulvaney defines intercultural communication as “a message producer
being a member of one culture and a message receiver being a member of another culture.” This Comment [M. Lane11]: 13.1
is very logical because men and women have different demands while growing and developing.
Cross-cultural communication also sets some of the standards of how men and women speak in
conversation with other people. Gamarekian mentions how some criticism has come from the
book from people who believe that gender differences “could justify unequal treatment and
opportunity for women” in our society. There are several explanations for the differences in Comment [M. Lane13]: 13.1?
conversational styles of the genders.
In general, women and men view the world from different perspectives. Mulvaney
explains that “women see talk as the essence of a relationship while men use talk to exert control,
preserve independence, and enhance status” with others. In her book, Tannen describes the Comment [M. Lane14]: 13.1?
different stereotypes that characterize men and women. In our society, men tend to dominate to
maintain a one-up position on the person they are communicating with. Women, unlike men, like Comment [M. Lane15]: These are some broad,
sweeping stereotypes. Are you making these
statements, or are they what is in the text? Clarify.
to keep a close bond with the other person and like to maintain the same status in the
conversation. Tannen describes the differences of rapport-talk and report-talk in conversations in
chapter three of You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. These
conversation styles can be classified as private and public speaking, respectively. Women
primarily use rapport talk when speaking to establish connections, while men use report talk to
maintain status and to preserve independence (77). The different conversational styles of men
and women can be distinguished while speaking with people of the opposite gender. However,
these ways of speaking are established in the early years of a person’s life while growing and
developing. According to Tannen, it is very hard to change a person’s way of speaking, but it is
Throughout the book, Tannen uses exemplification to make her argument more clear to
the reader. She pulls many excerpts from books written by different authors to provide examples
that the reader can relate with to make her point more persuasive. Concrete facts from different
studies performed are also incorporated into the book. A series of seventy studies were
performed and analyzed recently, which killed the stereotype that women talk more than men Comment [M. Lane16]: 5.3
(washingtonpost.com). Tannen emphasized in You Just Don’t Understand the fact that women
and men talk equally, though it may not seem that way. Women are prone to talking privately, Comment [M. Lane17]: 5.3
which could cause others to believe that they are more talkative. Men tend to talk more
publically, which causes them to appear less talkative at home around the family. Throughout her
book, Tannen uses several patterns of development to construct her argument.
In the chapter titled, Who’s Interrupting?, Tannen uses narration to describe her analysis
of a dinner conversation among six friends. She listened to the tape for specific points where one
friend unintentionally was dominant over the others (196-197). This story helps to support
Tannen’s argument that our conversational styles are firmly established and difficult to change,
but it also shows that not all people of the same gender speak the same way. Definition explains Comment [M. Lane18]: 9.3
style differences, rapport talk, and report talk in the book. These definitions benefit the reader to
get a better understanding of the argument. Overall, the argument is well developed with a
concrete claim that Tannen builds off of throughout the book.
The ultimate argument is that cross-cultural communication between the genders is
established at the household. Tannen exemplifies her points by using many examples and facts to
back up her point of view. She also appeals to pathos in several areas in the book, such as when
she speaks of her great aunt that was loved by a man unconditionally (113). This example was
specifically touching because her aunt actually cried when her lover asked what she wore when
she had dinner out with her friends. The traits that people display in conversation are similar for
many people of the same gender.
SECTION IV: OPPOSING POINTS OF VIEW
Jan Peregrine disagrees with Tannen’s argument to say that many people are not
influenced by the same conversational style as others of their sex. Tannen does not take this into
consideration in her book, which makes it more difficult to put a specific label on the ways that
women and men communicate with other people. Peregrine agrees that some of “these beliefs
were formed in our childhood when girls formed a few close friends to gab and the boys formed
teams to play competitive sports” to develop socially. However, not all people are influenced by Comment [M. Lane19]: 13.1
these expectations formed at childhood because people are raised differently. The way people
think and act are shaped by society, family, and the environment. Tannen correlates the
similarities between actions of young children with adults at the age of twenty five. These
instances are described in the chapter, Look at Me When I’m Talking to You!. The body language
and conversations brought up by the second graders and the adults were shockingly similar, to
persuade the readers to take Tannen’s point of view. However, not all people respond like those
in this research project. In reality, there are many people that are not affected the same way as
others of the same gender, as is the case with Jan Peregrine.
Peregrine’s point of view does conflict with the argument that Tannen creates. Tannen’s
argument makes it seem like all people are raised to speak the same way, when that is not the
case. All people are unique with their own speaking styles to fit their own personality.
SECTION V: CONCLUSION
Personally, I agree with Peregrine that not all people are brought up the same way.
Conversational styles can change throughout a person’s lifetime. I have heard many times that
people who are shy when they are younger grow up to be very outgoing adults. Of course, this is
not the case for all people. I’m sure that many people do grow up having similar conversational Comment [M. Lane20]: Good job qualifying
styles as others of the same gender, but there will always be other people that do not fall into this
category. For example, my best friend is very outgoing and therefore speaks using both report
talk and rapport talk quite frequently. Would she be an exception to the standards of cross-
cultural communication? There are many other people that do not use the conversational styles
that Tannen describes in her book for each gender. People are raised differently and all have
distinctive ways of speaking that can change as a person develops throughout life.
Gamarekian, Barbara. "Men. Women. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Hear? No.(Living Desk)."
New York Times 19 June 1991. Student Resource Center - Bronze. Web. 5 May 2010.
Mulvaney, Becky M. “Gender differences in Communication: An Intercultural Experience.”
Feminism and Women's Studies. N.p., 1994. Web. 5 May 2010.
Peregrine, Jan. eopinions.com. N.p., 27 Aug. 2001. Web. 5 May 2010.
Tannen, Deborah. georgetown.edu. N.p., 2009. Web. 5 May 2010.
Tannen, Deborah. "Who does the talking here?." washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post
Company, 15 July 2007. Web. 5 May 2010.
Tannen, Deborah. You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. New York:
Ballentine Books, 1990. Print.
Area Score Comments
Ideas and Content 9
Word Choice 9
Sentence Fluency 8
Lower Order Concerns 8
Presentation (Research Guide) 9
Introduction and Conclusion 10
GRADE out of 50 44 Revisit citation rules/formatting…you drift in and out of properly
referencing your sources; good job in most of analysis; see
comments and LOCs for revisions