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Male and female styles in 17th century correspondence: I THINK

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 1999

Minna Palander-Collin
University of Helsinki


When 17th century personal correspondence was studied, it was observed that women used the evidential expression I THINK more often than men. A closer analysis showed that women also used other 1st person evidential verbs as well as the 1st and 2nd person pronouns more frequently than men. This male/female difference was maintained even in different registers, although both sexes have higher frequencies of I THINK in more intimate circumstances, such as when the informants are writing to their friends or close family members. The male/female differences in frequencies are explained as a difference in the style of communication. Women's style is more “involved” and interactive: personal point of view is frequently expressed, and both the writer and the addressee are overtly included in the communication situation. Interestingly, similar differences have also been found in Present-Day English.

Research Article
© 1999 Cambridge University Press

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