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Gender Aspects in the Use of Selfmentions (based on the Genre of TED Talks)

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The article deals with gender aspects in the use of English selfmentions – phrases containing first person pronouns and possessive adjectives (I, we, me, us, my, our). The research is based on TED talks given by men and women, experts in different areas of expertise (medicine, psychology, politics, business, and neuroscience). Selfmentions are directly oriented to the image of the author and reflect the subjective-modal side of communication. However, speakers widely use them not only to present their own selves – to demonstrate their personal opinions, attitudes or assessments, but also to create the relations of credibility, confidence, and solidarity with the audience. Selfmentions are crucial in improving the efficiency of language persuasion and of communication in general. The applied methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis of the use of selfmentions in men’s and women’s talks allowed to claim that while overall frequency rates of these phrases in the speech of men and women differ only slightly, gender differences in the use of certain selfmention types are significant. Men’s talks demonstrate high frequency of I-phrases and exclusive (expert) we-phrases. Women use I-phrases less frequently, however, they are more likely to choose inclusive we-phrases, where we can refer to the whole humanity, a certain nation or gender. The obtained results prove the well-known facts about the specific features of masculine and feminine communicative styles: the desire to develop closeness and solidarity in the interaction with the addressee typical of women’s speech behaviour and the inclination to demonstrate individuality, authority, status orientation commonly found in men’s language performance.

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