Posted by: suekenney | November 11, 2011

Who Talks More?

Just for kicks, I Googled “woman words per day.” I was expecting to find all sorts of articles about how women tend to speak two or three times as many words as men – you know, the typical stereotype of the chatty woman and the taciturn man.

a man and woman talking (borrowed from blog.rightreading.com)

 Surprise! The very first article I read, posted by Mark Liberman on August 6, 2006, (http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003420.html),  said that there has been no real scientific study of the issue; he had searched high and low for published verification of the accepted stereotype and had found none.

So I looked further.  Sciencemag.org disputes the claim; science20.com disputes the claim; NPR’s science news disputes the claim.  The news article at NPR cited a study done in 2006 or 2007 that found among almost 400 college students, the word counts were virtually the same between men and women, averaging just above or just below 16,000 words.  In fact, the three most talkative persons in the study were MEN, using up to 47,000 words per day.   The least talkative one was also a man, using only 700 words a day.

I feel liberated! I don’t talk much during the day, except sometimes on the phone, and sometimes to myself (shh, don’t tell anyone!).  I’m sure I don’t reach the full “quota” that women are supposed to speak.  And sometimes I’ve felt a bit abnormal for NOT talking so much.  But now – ahhhh!  I can relax in who I am and not worry about all my unused words collecting in some brain space and exploding suddenly like an infected appendix.

Let me finish here with a quote from Mark Liberman’s article, cited above:

A husband looking through the paper came upon a study that said women use more words than men.
Excited to prove to his wife that he had been right all along when he accused her of talking too much, he showed her the study results. It read “Men use about 15,000 words per day, but women use 30,000”.
The wife thought for a while, then finally she said to her husband “It’s because we have to repeat everything we say.”
The husband said “What?”

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Responses

  1. It really depends. Like in my family, my dad would be the one doing all the talking

    Btw, thanks for visiting my blog! ^_^

    • You’re welcome! I enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading more as you journey on.


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