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Why do women talk so much? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Nichi Hodgson

Every day millions of people ask google life’s most difficult questions. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

‘A woman’s tongue wags like a lamb’s tail”, so an old English saying goes, and if you deign to type “why do women …” into Google’s search bar, the search engine will finish your sentence accordingly with “talk so much”. We’ve been brought up to believe that women are the talkative ones, the ones whose words, both soothing and scolding, are the social glue of small communities and families alike. We assume women talk more than men. But there’s also the more sinister notion that women must be silenced for risk of what they might say about men, a belief Mary Beard traces back to the classical world in her recent tract Women and Power – and something we’ve seen in full contemporary flourish with the eruption of #MeToo.

Because of the prohibition on women’s speech, which continued right through the middle ages and up through the mass growth in western female literacy, it took until the 20th century for a more positive, parallel notion to take hold: that women might be biologically better with words. Today scientific study has even found the odd bit of evidence that girls may indeed find it easier to acquire language than boys. But does the idea of women’s super- (and superfluous) loquacity actually hold up to scientific scrutiny?

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