Thursday, February 1, 1996

Q&A Deborah Tannen: A Writer First

Originally appeared in the Boston Book Review.
(Date Approximate)

HB: What got you interested in the subject of communications between genders?

DT: After graduating from college in 1966, I lived in Greece for two years where I became involved in issues of cross-cultural communication. I was teaching English as a foreign language; a lot of the people who do that are trained in linguistics. That’s how I first discovered that there was such a thing.

Back in the States, I got a Master’s Degree in English, taught remedial writing and English for foreign students, then decided to get a Ph.D. in linguistics. I attended a linguistics institute in 1973. Luckily the institute was devoted to language in social context that summer. Had I gone another summer it’s quite likely I would have concluded linguistics was not for me.

HB: How were you affected by the politics of the sixties and seventies, particularly feminist politics?