Speech strategy sequencing in personal ads

social variation in personal ad structure in Mexico City and London


  • Sara L Zahler University at Albany, SUNY




Variation, Indexicality, Sexuality, Identity, Sociolinguistics


Traditional personal advertisements often follow an ‘X seeks Y for Z’ format. The current study analyses the presence of these different components of personal ads (referred to as speech strategies) and their sequencing across four socio-sexual groups (women seeking women, women seeking men, men seeking women and men seeking men) and distinct types of relationships desired (romantic, sexual and other) in two regions, Mexico City and London. Results indicate that the structure of personal ads varied by both factors across regions. Posters who expressed desire for romantic relationships in London diverged less from the traditional format than those who portrayed themselves as seeking sex or other types of relationships. Additionally, socio-sexual groups differed in the type and frequency of several components within their personal ads. The indexicality of the XYZ structure as well as differences in portrayed relationship desired between regions are discussed as factors contributing to regional differences.

Author Biography

Sara L Zahler, University at Albany, SUNY

Sara L. Zahler is an Assistant Professor of Hispanic and Italian Studies, University at Albany – SUNY. Her research centres on the cognitive, linguistic and social factors that affect linguistic variation in both first and second languages.


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How to Cite

Zahler, S. L. (2021). Speech strategy sequencing in personal ads: social variation in personal ad structure in Mexico City and London. Gender and Language, 15(4), 503–524. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.18800