Are there gender differences in the use
 of questions in the sitcom Friends? : A case study of four episodes from 1994 and 2004

University essay from Karlstads universitet

Abstract: The main aim of this paper was to identify the form and function of questions used by the three female and three male characters in the sitcom Friends, in order to see whether there were any gender differences in the use of questions. Another aim was to see whether gender roles remain static over time in the series, from 1994 to 2004. Four episodes in total were used, two episodes from the first season and two from the last. The results clearly showed that the male characters asked more questions than the female characters which was the opposite of what research suggested. Out of the four main functions of questions (external questions, talk-questions, relational questions and expressive style questions), the male characters used the external and expressive style the most. This reflects what research says about men using questions more to show power and domination in conversations. Talk and relational questions were used more by the female characters, which agrees with previous research which shows that women use questions as a conversational tool more often than men. Over the ten-year period studied, there were no striking differences between the female and male characters when it came to the form of questions used. To sum up, the results turned out to agree to a great extent with previous research and the scripted dialogues seem to reflect authentic conversations surprisingly well. 

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