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Noted linguist Deborah Tannen on the language of women’s friendships

by AirTalk®

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Girls hug each other outside the European school of Strasbourg in France. PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images

Jane Fonda once said, “It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be.”

Women’s friendships are the focus of linguist and New York Times Bestselling author Deborah Tannen’s new book, “You’re the Only One I Can Tell”. Rather than taking a psychological approach to women’s relationships, Tannen uses her experience as a linguist to analyze the way words build – and break – the bonds of friendship.

She interviewed 80 women ranging from ages nine to 97 for the book. It covers everything from the definition of closeness to how miscommunication can result in drama and the influence of social media on female friendships.

Guest host Libby Denkmann in for Larry Mantle


Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and author of the book, “You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships” (Ballantine Books, 2017)

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