Okay, so men and women are different. We all know this. Once in a while political issues make us say things like, “We’re really not that different!”, but then scientists come in and pretty succintly inform us that we are different. Our brains are somewhat different, our bodies take slightly different shapes, our drives in many respects are different.
And, apparently, this affects how we write. A bit of software out there on the net, called the Gender Genie, can analyse a text and with a pretty impressive degree of accuracy tell you whether the author is male or female. The basis of this seems to be a keyword search. Certain kinds of words are used a lot by men, and others are used more by women.
I’ve just entered this post and found that the male:female ratio is 520:444. OF course, this text only had about half as many as the optimal number of words for analysis. But it’s pretty consistent with other posts I’ve analyzed. I’ll try my whole blog front page now, and the results are, male:female ratio 10048:5156. So my blogging is very clearly male. But…
An interesting thing is that it isn’t so accurate with poetry. My blog posts get a pretty consistent reading of being written by a male. But some of my poems have come off very very clearly “written by a female”. Even the translation of Arthur Rimbaud’s poem gets a score of male:female 51:315. Interesting! This makes me think that when we write poems, we’re actually, neurologically, doing something quite different than when we write (prosaically) about our daily lives. It’s not surprising, I already thought so after all, but for a scientist to agree would be a cool thing.
Also, I decided to look into how ESL users use English. I only have one person on my blogroll who posts in English as a second language, but when she posts, the Gender Genie claims, she uses somewhat male vocabulary. That’s interesting. I’m sometimes told that in Korean, I use female vocabulary… men sometimes correct me to get me to speak more manly Korean. What can I say, my first teachers were both women. I suppose in a second language one tends to express what one learns how to express, and so one’s diction is limited… one’s discursive style is probably shaped by teachers. Hm. And I think one expressed what one can in another language. I limit myself in Korean, as I did in French, to stuff I can actually say. This probably has an effect on the results of keyword analysis. But I don’t know enough to say more… hmm.
Anyway, go on ahead and play with it. It’s quite interesting.
I found the link to this toy on Adam’s site. Thanks Adam!