There Is No Unmarked Woman By Deborah Tannen

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Deborah Tannen’s essay, “There Is No Unmarked Woman”, explores the idea of “marked” and “unmarked” words, styles, titles, and how females have no ability to choose an unmarked position. She also posits that “The unmarked forms of most English words also convey ‘male’” (88). Tannen is incorrect in her premise because females are able to choose unmarked hair and clothing styles, many unmarked forms of words no longer convey “male,” and men are marked just as often as women. In her essay, Tannen analyzes how everything that women do will mark them in some way. Her point is that everything a woman does is somehow sending a message. For example, Tannen notes that, “The unmarked tense of verbs in English is the present” and that you can mark them as past by “adding ed” or as future by putting “will” in front of the verb (88). Her idea is that certain words are presumed to be one thing until they are marked otherwise. She then goes on to say that, “[for a word, being] male is the unmarked case” and “Endings like ess and ette mark words as ‘female’” (88). The idea is that women are always pe...
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