TRY to read the following scenarios without assigning gender to the characters:
- Two people get hopelessly lost while driving. Frustration builds as one person wants to forge ahead doggedly trying to find the way while the other presses to stop and ask directions of someone.
- Two people are shopping. One tries on a sweater and asks the honest opinion of the other. The answer is a straightforward thumbs down. The honest answer hurts the feelings of the first.
Most people hear distinct male and female voices in these situations: the woman wanting to ask directions, the man being blunt.
Sociolinguist Deborah Tannen, on the other hand, hears …