Deborah Tannen


University Professor


Department of Linguistics
General profile



+1 202-687-5910





Deborah Tannen has been a member of the Linguistics Department faculty at Georgetown since 1979; she is one of six in the College of Arts and Sciences who hold the distinguished rank of University Professor. Her 24 books have addressed such topics as interactional sociolinguistics, conversational interaction, cross-cultural communication, frames theory, conversational vs. literary discourse, gender and language, and new media discourse. She has been McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University and has twice been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.

Outside of the academy Deborah Tannen is best known as the author of You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, which was on the New York Times best seller list for nearly four years, including eight months as No. 1, and has been translated into 31 languages. This is the book that brought gender differences in communication style to the forefront of public awareness. Her book Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work did for the workplace what the earlier book did for conversations at home, and was a New York Times Business best seller. Her two most recent books, You Were Always Mom’s Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives and You're Wearing THAT?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation were also New York Times best sellers.

Deborah Tannen is a frequent guest on television and radio news and information shows, including The Colbert Report, 20/20, Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Rachael Ray Talk Show, PBS NewsHour, Charlie Rose, Oprah, Hardball, Nightline, and many shows on CNN and NPR such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Diane Rehm Show, and Fresh Air. She has been featured in and written for most major newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today, People, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

Please visit Dr. Tannen's website,, for more information about her research, publications, and media appearances.


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  • Ph.D. (1979) University of California, Berkeley, Linguistics
  • M.A. (1976) University of California, Berkeley, Linguistics
  • M.A. (1970) Wayne State University, English Literature
  • B.A. (1966) Harpur College, English Literature


  • Greek, Modern (1453- ) (speak, read, write)