The Modern Scholar

  • by Deborah Tannen
  • Narrated by Deborah Tannen
  • 7 hrs and 22 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

"When I wrote You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, I didn't know that what everyone would respond to most strongly is the question, "Why don't men like to stop and ask for directions?" (Before the book was published, no one talked about this gender difference; as a result of the book, it is now the ubiquitous subject of jokes, cartoons, skits, greeting cards, and casual conversations.)"The answer to this question will be revealed in the lectures that follow, as it captures the essence of what this course will address: the patterns that tend to distinguish how men and women use language in their everyday lives, and the consequences of these differences (as well as similarities) for conversations and relationships between women and men."My goal in this series, in addition to illuminating the patterns of women's and men's uses of language, is to enhance understanding of how language works in everyday life. I am told by students who have taken my courses that this understanding helps them in their everyday lives, as every aspect of our lives involves talking to people of the other sex - in our personal relationships, our families, at work, and in trying to get just about anything done."

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Kind of revelatory, at least for me

As a female grad student in astrophysics, I spend most of my time with a) guys and b) women who are very comfortable being around guys. I was hoping that this book would give me insights that would allow me to communicate better with my male colleagues, but mostly it's helped me pin down why I find it so hard to interact with women who use language and communication in a more stereotypically female way than I do. Tannen emphasizes that the male and female patterns she identifies are not universal, and she doesn't try to make any spurious evolutionary-psychology claims about why the typical behavior patterns she identifies exists, which is a big relief, since those always seem to end with "and that's why women should just stay in the kitchen where they belong."

The most valuable lesson I've gotten from this book is that when someone's communication style is different from yours, you tend to make assumptions about their thoughts and feelings that are not necessarily accurate. As a result, instead of realizing that the person isn't getting your message and changing the way you communicate, you assume that are insensitive / lazy / argumentative / etc., which only creates more problems. This book gives you at least a basic framework for figuring out whether your problems with someone are due to the fact that your communication styles don't match or due to the fact that the other person actually is a jerk.

Given that I've spent my entire adult life studying physics, I wasn't expecting anything from this book resembling what I generally think of as "science." It's just a bunch of anecdotes that may or may not ring true for a given listener. I found that the anecdotes agreed with my own experiences, and that Tannen's interpretations seemed reasonable. Your mileage may vary.
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- R.

I Have Taught The Work Of Deborah Tannen...

for decades, and I have found her to be the most enlightening linguistic on the topic of gender and language. The wonderful thing about Tannen is that she transcends the usual feminist approach that asserts "women must learn to talk like men to succeed" because "men are verbal bullies"--and at the same time she does not go the other way and denigrate women as passive or weak in the ways they communicate. She simply demonstrates that men and women, due to both biology and culture, approach language and social interaction differently and shows the strengths and weaknesses of both.
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- Douglas

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-22-2008
  • Publisher: Recorded Books