Communication is one of the most important aspects of everyday life. One of its
most characteristic features is its diversity as “it rangers from the mass media and
popular culture, through language to individual and social behavior” (Fiske 1990:13).
The way we talk depends on a number of factors, such as where a conversation takes
place, when, why, how and with whom. Thus, “One person’s language use will vary
widely according to the needs of the social context” (Jule 2008:27). One has to learn
how to communicate successfully through many situational interactions since both
communicative competence and success consist in making appropriate choices in
contextual, situational and social settings.
It is usually stressed that whereas men’s communication styles are associated with
competition and dominance, women’s conversation strategies are based on cooperation
and politeness (Trask 1999:183). In the following paper we intend to verify
the linguistic data obtained so far and focus on the most principal aspects of communication,
which are: turn taking, backchannels and interruptions. The purpose of
the analysis is to investigate characteristics of conversation strategies in the speech
of both male and female speakers talking to each other and exchanging their views
on a particular topic during relatively spontaneous male-female interactions, that is
mixed-gender interviews. We will seek to analyze the occurrence of backchannels
and interruptions the use of which could be indicative of either support, agreement,
involvement or dominance, competition and even hostility on the part of the speakers.
The participants consist of randomly selected students at the age of 20-25 who
study English at the English Department.