chapter  1
29 Pages

Sex, politeness and language

Are women more polite than men? The question is deceptively simple. The answer, by contrast, is very complicated as this book will illustrate.

When a sociolinguist is asked this question her first reaction is to say 'it depends what you mean by politeness, and it depends which women and which men you are comparing, and it also depends on the context in which they are talking'. Considerations such as these mean that any answer needs to be hedged and qualified in all sorts of ways. But perhaps I should say right at the outset that, when all the necessary reservations and qualifications have been taken into account, I think the answer is 'yes, women are more polite than men'. This book explores some of the evidence for that conclusion.