2006 BECKY AWARD.

The prestigious group of savants over at Language Log have created an award named for Goropius Becanus, a 16th-century Dutch humanist who “theorized that Antwerpian Flemish, or Brabantic, spoken in the region between the Scheldt and Meuse Rivers, was the original language spoken in Paradise.” (I’m proud to say the very first LH post was about him.) The award goes to “people or organizations who have made outstanding contributions to linguistic misinformation,” and Geoff Nunberg announced the winner today on Fresh Air:

But by a unanimous vote, this year’s Becky goes to the psychiatrist Louann Brizendine, whose bestselling book The Female Brain argues that most of the cognitive and social differences between the sexes are due to differences in brain structure. It’s a controversial thesis. The New York Times’s David Brooks and others have hailed the book as a challenge to feminist dogma, and Brizendine herself has charged that her critics are angry because her conclusions aren’t politically correct. Actually, though, you can leave out the “politically” part. The reviewers for the British science journal Nature described the book as “riddled with scientific errors.” And in newspaper commentaries and posts on the LanguageLog blog, the University of Pennsylvania linguist Mark Liberman has been meticulously debunking Brizendine’s claims about men’s and women’s language.

Brizendine claims that “differences between men’s and women’s brains make women more talkative than men, and goes on to say that women on average use 20,000 words a day while men use only 7000″ and that “women on average speak twice as fast as men do.” Both these claims are utterly and provably wrong (see the Log and the Nunberg link for details). Congratulations, Louann, and I look forward to your rapidly delivered, many-worded acceptance speech!

Comments

  1. Oh my holy Estienne translation of the Vulgate, I’m afraid, based on the number of words the woman I currently adore and love uses in her daily criticism of my various (actually many) faults, I have to agree with Ms. Louann Byzantine, that, yes, women do use more words daily than men; in fact, 20,000 seems a low figure to me. I had an Aunt Bessie who I guarantee you could use 20,000 words easily before the end of breakfast. How about a reality show challenge concerning this: Puerto Rican women versus Long Island Jewish men? Holy Roller women preachers versus male auctioneers. Would a man do the announcing? Like maybe have Ralph Kiner do the commentary along with a slow-talking woman, like Martha Stewart, did you ever notice how slow she talks? Seems to me that it would take a larger brain to spew out more words per any period of time than a smaller brain. So what if the words don’t make any sense, but then that’s another argument. And by the way, how does one deduce the difference in sizes of brains? Through measuring the brains pried out of cadaver skulls? Through measuring the skull, too, maybe? I know the infamous Italian psychiatrist, Cesare Lombroso, could tell whether you were a criminal or not by measuring your cranium.
    But, OK, I, too, will join all you linguisticos in congratulating Louann (I grew up in Texas with a lot of Louanns)on her prestigious award for her splendid work of faith and not evidence.
    PS: The Aunt Bessie mentioned above could outjabber any assemblage of men whether professors or scoundrels for any length of time, hours, days, weeks, months, or years. I once heard my her babble nonstop for at least 4 hours one family gathering. It didn’t bother me; I found her quite melodious and inspirational since I’m a pretty fast talker myself–and I proudly admit to having a woman’s brain.
    Ur fiend,
    thegrowlingwolf

  2. So the growling wolf is actually a ‘louve’?

  3. It may just be that men seem to talk to the point. A woman droning on about fashion and makeup seems like they talk more. Men talking about footbal there are never enough words. Hillary Clinton talking just seems longer. Barak Obama when he talks, it seems to go by quickly. A woman is at her best when she speaks sweet nothings. I think it aslo proves that by having having an award named after a woman “Becky” you are admitting a woman talks more than a man. Jessica Simpson should get honorable mention this year. Chicken of the sea and all.

Speak Your Mind

*