Friday, July 06, 2007

How many words do you use?

If you haven't heard already the news story about a research study that found that men and women speak almost the same number of words a day, here's a partial story from NPR. I know a woman (name witheld to protect the talker) who sometimes says that she has to get her 20,000 words in at lunch and around's using up 4,000 too many. I think those are some of my words. But that may be OK. I don't think I usually hit the quota.

Study: Men Talk Just as Much as Women
by Richard Knox

Researchers recorded hundreds of students, capturing 30 seconds of sound for every 12-and-a-half minutes. The chattiest of the subjects, at nearly 47,000 words per day, were men.

All Things Considered, July 5, 2007 · An article in this week's issue of Science blasts the popular myth that women are more talkative than men. Researchers outfitted 396 college students — 345 Americans and 51 Mexicans — with devices that automatically recorded them every 12 1/2 minutes, which amounts to 4 percent of a person's daily utterances. The researchers found that women speak a little more than 16,000 words a day. Men speak a little less than 16,000 words. The difference is not statistically significant.

Psychologist Matthias Mehl of the University of Arizona says the three top talkers in the study — uttering up to 47,000 words a day — were all men. So was the most taciturn subject, who spoke only 700 words a day, on average. Mehl says he and his colleagues were surprised at the outcome. They had tentatively bought into the popular stereotype that women are the more talkative sex. But they were skeptical of the widespread claim that women use three times more words a day then men.

The claim got prominent attention with the publication of a 2006 book called The Female Brain. Its author, Louann Brizendine, has been widely quoted claiming that "a woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000.

1 comment:

Jane who? said...

Yes, I heard this story too. Not big news to women, though, who knew all this already.

Not only do men use as many words as women--I maintain that they actually use MORE, as any woman who's ever been on a first date can attest. After a first date, I can tell you virtually everything there is to know about the man I went out with. I can do this, because he spent the evening telling me everything about himself.

And I know that I didn't use as many words as my date, because if I had, surely a few of them would have included my phone number.