Sunday, May 09, 2004

Gendered Otters

I'm fascinated to find out that there has been substantial, widespread uncertainty about my gender, as these comment threads show. Honestly, I wasn't trying to be cagey. I've been active in online communities for more than ten years, usually under the name "Rivka," and as far as I know, I've always been perceived as female before. Of course, in other settings I've talked more about my personal life. That may be where the really good gender cues come from.

Mark Liberman at Language Log takes a couple of passes at explaining the current state of the research on gender differences in language. If the passage I quoted in my previous post irritated you because it seemed like a bunch of unsubstantiated generalizations, please go read Mark's posts. I went looking for a vivid general statement to quote, but of course that's not all there is to the science of linguistics.

Also at Language Log, Geoffrey Pullam has a go at determining my gender scientifically. I'd take issue with his conclusion, except that I'm too busy basking in all the kind things he said about my writing. (If not my grammar.)