15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Phonetic Differences Between Gay- and Straight-Sounding Male Speakers of North American English

Henry Rogers, Ron Smyth

University of Toronto, Canada

Previous research into the phonetic characteristics of gay- and straight-sounding male speech have failed to find differences relating to the overall measurements of frequency. Popular opinion seems convinced that pitch or intonation is involved in characterizing some voices as gay-sounding: specifically, gay-sounding voices are often said to have higher pitch and more exaggerated variation in the intonation. This paper reports on experiments in which listeners judged recorded stimuli with segmental information removed. The results suggest that the difference between gay-and straight-sounding voices may lie in perceived average pitch and perceived intonational variability, rather than in the more objective acoustic measures of mean F0 and its variance. However, the measures of perceived pitch and intonational variability correlate only with gayness judgements of altered speech, and not with unaltered speech.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Rogers, Henry / Smyth, Ron (2003): "Phonetic differences between gay- and straight-sounding male speakers of North American English", In ICPhS-15, 1855-1858.