Women are definitely first off the block in the language wars, no doubt there; but are men more logical and women more relational?! Let me say this - men are more logical to other men, and women are more relational to other women. Where that puts us, I don't know!
Here is a nice list that might illustrate my reticence on this topic.
right brain - left brain
nonlinear - linear
acoustical - visual
analogical - logical
inductive - deductive
concrete - abstract
mystical - causal
intuitive - rational
relativity - absolutism
This is not a list on gender differences. This list is from a book on pop cross-cultural psychology. It represents the contrast between east and west.
In my view, there is a master list somewhere, maintained by some select group of people, containing all those things which they want to be and those things which they don't want to be. They parade the list around in whatever context necessary. "The list" proves that certain people are logical and others are not. But eastern vs western, female vs male, traditional vs modern, who knows - just maintain the list and put a title on it when the need arises! That's my take.
However, I admit that there are indeed certain differences and for your edification, let me contribute a few pithy observations from Otto Jespersen, whose book, Language, I have been browsing through as I organize my library - a sort of early spring cleaning.
Jespersen writes here about the superior scores of women on reading tests.
- Not only were they able to read more quickly than men, but they were able to give a better account of the paragraph as a whole. ... But it was found that rapidity was no proof of intellectual power, and some of the slowest readers were highly distinguished men. Ellis (Man and Woman, 195) explains this in this way; with the quick reader it is as though every statement were admitted immediately and without inspection to fill the vacant chambers of the mind, while with the slow reader every statement undergoes an instinctive process of cross-examination; every new fact seems to stir up the accumulated stores of facts among which it intrudes, and so impedes rapidity of mental action.
- The superior readiness of speech of women is a concomitant of the fact that their vocabulary is smaller and more central than that of men. But again this is connected with another indubitable fact, that women do not reach the same extreme points as men, but are nearer the average in most respects. ... Genius is more common among men by virtue of the same general tendency by which idiocy is more common among men. The two facts are but two aspects of a larger zoological fact - the greater variability of the male.
In language we see this very clearly, the highest linguistic genius and the lowest degree of linguistic imbecility are very rarely found among women. Lg. 253
- If we compare long periods as constructed by men and by women, we shall in the former find many more instances of intricate or involute structures with clause within clause, a relative clause in the middle of a conditional clause or vice versa, with subordination and sub-subordination, while the typical form of long feminine periods is that of co-ordination, one sentence or clause being added to another on the same plane and the gradation between the respective ideas being marked not grammatically, but emotionally, by stress and intonation, and in writing by underlining.
- In learned terminology we may say that men are fond of hypotaxis and women of parataxis. Or we may use the simile that a male period is often like a set of Chinese boxes, one within another, while a feminine period is like a set of pearls joined together on a string of ands and similar words. Lg 252.
Who really wants to make a list of feminine traits vs masculine traits? That way madness lies, let me shun that. No more of that.
HT Wayne brought these related posts to my attention several months ago. Thanks, Wayne.
Sex & Language Stereotypes through the Ages
The vast arctic tundra of the male brain
These are offered for your entertainment.