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

10/31/2020 ∙ by Ella Rabinovich, et al. ∙ 0

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.

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