How many times have you heard someone say “men and women don’t speak the same language?” But that’s not true . . . well, in English, anyway! In some parts of the world, the words people use can vary dramatically based on nothing more than gender.
For example, in the following cultures, men and women really do speak different languages (at least some of the time).
Chukchi is an endangered language spoken by 5,000 people in East Siberia. Traditionally, the Chukchi herd reindeer and hunt for seals and whales.
The Chukchi language is made up two gender-based dialects, one for men and one for women. The differences between the two dialects are mostly phonetic. For example, women typically substitute the ts sound for ch and r. So “ramkichhin,” which means “people,” is pronounced as written by men and as “tsamkitstsin” by women.
At the same time, the differences aren’t quite as simple as just swapping one consonant for another, which is why scholars refer to Chukchi as having two separate, but still mutually intelligible, gender dialects [PDF]. Read more