ERIC Number: EJ1168765
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
The Roles of Vowel Fronting, Lengthening, and Listener Variables in the Perception of Vocal Femininity
Shport, Irina A.
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, v61 n1 p130-144 Jan 2018
Purpose: The goal of this study was to test whether fronting and lengthening of lax vowels influence the perception of femininity in listeners whose dialect is characterized as already having relatively fronted and long lax vowels in male and female speech. Method: Sixteen English words containing the /? ? ? ?/ vowels were produced by a male speaker with 2 degrees of vowel fronting. Then, the vowel duration was manipulated in 3 steps. Thirty-nine listeners from the Southern United States judged how feminine each word sounded to them on an interval scale. Results: The results of mixed-effects modeling showed that the words with more fronted and longer variants of the vowels were perceived as more feminine than the same words with less fronted and shorter variants of the vowels. These effects, however, were modulated by the vowel type, listener's area of upbringing, and gender. Conclusions: Fronting (except for /?/) and lengthening of lax vowels make words sound more feminine for Southern listeners, which has implications for clients who wish to modify the perception of femininity invoked by their speech. The relative strength of the gender and regional associations of these vowel characteristics should be further examined across dialects.
Descriptors: Vowels, Femininity, Listening, Intervals, Word Study Skills, Gender Differences, Intonation, English Instruction
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
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