Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 11:33:43 +0100
To: Evolution of Language 
Subject: Re: EvolLang: Man or Woman?

> From: "Greg"
> >From: "Ronald"
> >
> >I don't think it is the case that women are "more proficient" in
> >language use than men.  The features of language use that are highly
> >valued, as opposed to devalued, are culturally specified.  What we can
> >say is that women are, in some  cultures, those who control
> >highly-valued speech patterns.  Men are equally  "proficient" but their
> >proficiency may be focussed on the lower-valued speech patterns,
> >sometimes as an expression of male solidarity.
> Maybe, but when I mentioned this I may have been speaking of different
> measures than you are referring to here.  Women  have better verbal
> skills, larger vocabulary, better ability to remember a wider range of
> words.  Among young kids learning to read, the vast majority of
> difficulties are found in young boys.  And so on. When a person has a
> hard time with language, it is fairly predictable that that person will
> be a male.
Ronald's comment was addressed to me, but over here it's sleepytime when on your side of the pond everybody is still up and going. Nevertheless, Greg said exactly what I also also would have on the matter (see e.g., which allows me to proceed to the next step:

There definitely is a male proficiency quite distinct from the female. Apparently, proficiency in hunting and fighting also meant proficiency in constructing tools/weapons/traps, and this seems to have developed into a greater affinity to what one could perhaps call "engineering skill" and "mechanical logic" among men. On the other hand, the group of women, the "keepers of the hearth", being where the chldren are, and where the men return to, must have been responsible for holding the community together and maintaining internal peace. Besides developing a greater aptitude for social manipulation (in a wide sense) and an affinity to what is known in philosophy since the ancient Greeks as dialectics, and is quite baffling to someone who has been trained to strictly adhere only to formal logic.

As language is primarily a means of maintaining social relations, and only in second place, and optionally, a means of conveying logical information, it is not surprising that women are more proficient in its use. Expectably, however, one should probably be able to detect a greater proficiency among men for certain genres of language usage of a dry and technical nature.