Three decades in the field of gender and language

a personal perspective


  • Deborah Tannen Georgetown University



agonism, conversational style, discourse analysis, double bind, gender, interactional sociolinguistics, interruption, markedness, workplace discourse


This essay provides an account of one scholar’s thirty-five-year immersion in language and gender research. I included a chapter on conversations between women and men in That’s Not What I Meant!, my first book for general audiences, as part of an overview of interactional sociolinguistics. Disproportionate interest in that chapter led me to write You Just Don’t Understand, which I assumed would be my last word on the topic. Then insights into gendered patterns turned out to be crucial in all my subsequent books, each of which grew out of the one before. Writing about gendered patterns in conversational interaction raised my own consciousness, illuminating aspects of a previous study that I had overlooked. It also brought me face to face with agonistic conventions in academic discourse, and the distortions and misrepresentations that result from them.


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How to Cite

Tannen, D. (2021). Three decades in the field of gender and language: a personal perspective. Gender and Language, 15(2), 232–241.



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