My PhD thesis explores the sociophonetic variation of French and German gay and straight men to determine the extent that sibilant variation may be a cross-linguistic marker of gay identity for these speakers. Click here to find out more.
CROSS-LINGUISTIC PERCEPTIONS OF /s/ AMONG FRENCH, GERMAN, AND ENGLISH LISTENERS
As the third chapter in my PhD Dissertation this joint project with Dr Josef Fruehwald and Dr Lauren Hall-Lew is in the final stages of preparation. This study reports the results of a cross-linguistic matched guise test examining the role of /s/ variation and pitch in judgements of sexual orientation and non-normative masculinity in English, French, and German listeners. Listeners responded to manipulations of /s/ and pitch in their native language and all other stimuli languages (English, French, German, and Estonian). All listener groups rate higher pitch stimuli as more gay and more effeminate sounding than lower pitch guises. However, only the English listeners hear [s+] guises as sounding more gay and more effeminate than [s] or [s-] guises. This effect is seen not only in their native language, but across all stimuli languages. French and German listeners, despite previous evidence showing /s/ to vary according to sexual orientation in men's speech, do not hear [s+] guises as more gay or more effeminate in any of the stimuli languages including their native French or German.
THE METHODS PROJECT
A joint project with Dr Lauren Hall-Lew, which we have dubbed 'the methods project', looks at stylistic variation in the speech of four female speakers utilising various sociolinguistic and phonetic speech elicitation methods and self-recording data. While the previous focus lies in sibilant variation, we are expanding the project towards an examination of these speakers' vowels space. In this, we hope to determine the effects that various elicitation methods may have on phonetic variation. The project is an examination of the stylistic differences between sociolinguistic interviews, reading passages, word lists, 'lab tasks' (i.e. Diapix, Map Tasks, Picture Book Narration, etc...) and Self-recorded speech to highlight the importance of how any given methodology may not be as comparable as often assumed. We argue that these methods are often a valuable resource for sociolinguistic methodology, but only after a close examination of why the researcher is implementing any specific methodological approach.
In the coming months we plan to expand our dataset to include an experimental approach of eliciting specific phonetic contexts in a self-recorded setting, attempting to address one of the more prominent drawbacks of self-recorded data. Check back later to find out more.
This project follows from a previous study where we had seen significant vowel contrasts of a single speaker in different speech contexts (Boyd et al. 2015). This project is ongoing, though portions of these results have been presented at BAAP 2016 in Lancaster, NWAV 45 in Vancouver, and is published in Penn Working Papers in Linguistics, vol 23.2.
I'm also part of the Edinburgh Speaks project at the University of Edinburgh looking at variation in speech and language use in the Scottish capital. Click here to find out more about this project.