Pick a Fight or Bite your Tongue: Investigation of Gender Differences in Idiomatic Language Usage

Ella Rabinovich, Hila Gonen, Suzanne Stevenson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

A large body of research on gender-linked language has established foundations regarding cross-gender differences in lexical, emotional, and topical preferences, along with their sociological underpinnings. We compile a novel, large and diverse corpus of spontaneous linguistic productions annotated with speakers’ gender, and perform a first large-scale empirical study of distinctions in the usage of figurative language between male and female authors. Our analyses suggest that (1) idiomatic choices reflect gender-specific lexical and semantic preferences in general language, (2) men’s and women’s idiomatic usages express higher emotion than their literal language, with detectable, albeit more subtle, differences between male and female authors along the dimension of dominance compared to similar distinctions in their literal utterances, and (3) contextual analysis of idiomatic expressions reveals considerable differences, reflecting subtle divergences in usage environments, shaped by cross-gender communication styles and semantic biases.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCOLING 2020 - 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Proceedings of the Conference
EditorsDonia Scott, Nuria Bel, Chengqing Zong
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
Pages5181-5192
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781952148279
StatePublished - 2020
Event28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, COLING 2020 - Virtual, Online, Spain
Duration: 8 Dec 202013 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameCOLING 2020 - 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Proceedings of the Conference

Conference

Conference28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, COLING 2020
Country/TerritorySpain
CityVirtual, Online
Period8/12/2013/12/20

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 COLING 2020 - 28th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Proceedings of the Conference. All rights reserved.

Funding

We are thankful to Sivan Rabinovich, who laid out the intuition for main ideas presented in this work. We would like to thank Blair Armstrong and Barend Beekhuizen for their useful comments. We are also grateful to our anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback. The research was supported by NSERC grant RGPIN-2017-06506 to Suzanne Stevenson.

FundersFunder number
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of CanadaRGPIN-2017-06506

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