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Listener-identified phonetic correlates of gay-, lesbian- and straight-sounding speech

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Title:Listener-identified phonetic correlates of gay-, lesbian- and straight-sounding speech
Authors:Piccolo, Fabiana
Date Issued:2008
Description:Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2008.
Finally, for my interview study, I interviewed my speakers in an effort to find out why a person might choose to sound differently from (or similarly to) what is expected of her/his sexuality. Among the results, gay-sounding males who self-identify as straight were clueless about their sounding gay. The female speakers in general saw themselves in term of sounding feminine or masculine, rather than straight or lesbian.
For my production study, I hypothesized that gay-sounding speech may be hyperarticulated, and that lesbian-sounding speech might be hypoarticulated. Accordingly, I observed phonetic features associated with the hypoarticulation/hyperarticulation dimension, including diphthong distance and frequency of stop release. I further considered individual monophthongs' articulation. Through statistical tools, I determined the behavior of these features for each speaker sounding group. Results included the following: the hypotheses connected to hyperarticulation and hypoarticulation were not substantiated. Gay-sounding speech was characterized by fronting of high vowels and lowering of low vowels. Lesbian-sounding speech showed a backed /a/ and a short diphthong distance for /ou/.
My dissertation follows this approach, and comprises three interconnected studies: a perception study, a production study and an interview study. For my perception study, I built two scales (one per gender), of the speech of 24 speakers, equally divided into gay/lesbian and straight, on the basis of 20 listeners' judgments. The listeners rated all speakers' voices on a scale from 1 ('sounds definitely homosexual') to 7 ('sounds definitely heterosexual'). The results show that speakers of either sexuality were believed to be gay/lesbian.
The second approach focuses precisely on this possibility. Proponents of this approach, mainly Smyth et al. (2003), created a scale of sexuality identifications (for men) based on listener judgments, noting that gay-/lesbian-sounding does not necessarily identify with gay/lesbian.
show 4 moreThe sociophonetic study of language, gender, and sexuality seems to have so far followed two main approaches. The first approach theorizes a series of phonetic features uniquely characterizing the speech of gays and lesbians, and has determined (e.g., Pierrehumbert et al. 2004) some of these features. This line of research tends to neglect individuals who do not sound like what their sexualities 'demand'.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 314-325).
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325 leaves, bound 29 cm
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Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Linguistics

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