Assignment 1: Address Terms Data due September 23 Assignment due October 7

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Assignment 1: Address Terms

Data due September 23

Assignment due October 7

In this assignment, we will investigate two terms of address and whether they are used differently by speakers of different genders to people of different genders. As we have seen, address terms are very rich resources for indicating relationships between two speakers. The first part of the assignment requires you to gather some data with a survey, and the second part asks you you analyze the collective class data in light of our in-class work.

Part 1: Gathering data

The data will be gathered through a survey method. This method has the strength of being able to gather lots of uniform information in a short period of time, which is why we are using it for this assignment. However, keep in mind that it also has certain drawbacks, the main one of which is that peple often report their behavior incorrectly. So keep this in mind when you get the results. I suggest that you also collect some observational data of your own in addition to the class data, as explained at the end of this section.

The survey is fairly self-explanatory, and can be accessed in Blackboard/Courseweb. I will also go through it in class. Please download and print/copy 20 sets of surveys (if you use double-sided pages, make sure to alert your respondents of this). You can distribute these to whomever you please (friends, strangers, etc.), but please try to get close to 10 men and 10 women respondents. You are free to collect more if you wish. At the end of the survey, please fill in your student number and give each survey its own number as well. Turn these paper surveys in on the day the data are due.

When you have finished collecting your surveys, type responses into the worksheet: Download the worksheet from the web, fill it in, save it, and upload it to the digital dropbox from courseweb (or email it to me as an attachment). Learn how to do this before the hour before the data are due. There is lots of computer support on campus; I will not accept "I don't know how to upload" etc. excuses. You will not annoy me if you try test runs ahead of time as long as you label them as such. If your home computer gives you trouble, use one of the university labs.

You can also collect observational data up to the point you write up the assignment. I suggest you do this by listening for uses of these address terms, then writing down as much information about the people and the situation involved as possible. You can use these data to support claims you make based on the survey data, or just use them as examples to make a point.

Part 2: Analyzing data and writing up

I will collate the data from the entire class, and then provide the data in spreadsheet format on the web. Knowledge of Excel or a similar spreadsheet program (let me know if you'd like a specific format other than Excel) won't be essential, but it wouldn't hurt to go through a quick tutorial before I post the data. I will provide a couple of views of the data, but it will be up to you to determine exactly how you want to organize it, and how you will present it (i.e., if you want to use charts). Your analysis need not be sophisticated, you just need to have frequencies of who says they use what with whom and why.

Your written report should follow the following format (with approximate word counts); you do not have to answer each of the questions here directly, but you should address them in your assignment:

  1. A short introduction summarizing the most important facets of the data and your most important conclusions. 50-75 words.

  2. A short explanation of how you gathered your surveys, and any difficulties or biases you think may be in your data. 100-150 words.

  3. A description of the patterns you see in the data. Of course, the primary pattern you focus on should be gender, but make sure to see if there are any other patterns. Also, pay attention to the interaction between speaker gender and addressee gender. Do these data show similarities or differences to any of the patterns we've talked and read about in class? Which? How are they similar or different? 300-500 words.

  4. An analysis of why you think these patterns hold, based on our class discussions of address terms, the discussion in Graddol and Swann, and other theories of gender and language we've read about and discussed so far. Some questions to consider:
    What kinds social meanings (indexicalities) do these address terms have, based on the survey results?
    Do you have any observations of actual use that support these indexicalities?
    Why do you find the differences you do, and if you find none, why would you have expected differences, and why do you think there are no differences?
    Are these patterns consistent with any cultural Discourses of gender? Which?
    Are they consistent with any other cultural practices? Which?
    Do our data confirm or challenge any theories proposed so far?
    These are just some questions you might consider; don't be afraid to pose your own. 700 words (but highly variable!).

The total length should be between 1200-1500 words (4-5 typed double-spaced pages).

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