Prosodic Encoding of Sexuality in the Speech Patterns of Gay and Straight Men
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lecture / presentation description
Several studies have been designed to analyze the differences between gay and straight speech in males. Among them, Gaudio (1994) reported little difference in fluctuation in pitch and pitch range between the two populations from read text. This led him to conclude that sexuality could either be encoded by other features in their speech (i.e. /s/-fronting or “gay lisp”), or that differences in pitch could only appear in more naturally occurring speech. This poster reports on a sociophonetic study that builds on Gaudio (1994), addressing the latter concern by analyzing speech from different experimental tasks: each participant read aloud from a script, told a story from a picture book with no words, and recalled something funny that had happened to them recently. In a pilot study, two participants (one gay, one straight) were recorded performing each of the tasks in a sound-attenuated booth using a digital recorder. Praat phonetic analysis software was used to measure the pitch (fundamental frequency; F0), fluctuations in F0, and F0 range in each phrase produced by the participants. A preliminary analysis of the results supports Gaudio’s conclusions, providing further evidence that pitch fluctuation and pitch range are not indicative of male sexual identity.