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8 - Perceptions of Style: A Focus on Fundamental Frequency and Perceived Social Characteristics

from Part II - The Structure of Social Meaning

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2021

Lauren Hall-Lew
University of Edinburgh
Emma Moore
University of Sheffield
Robert J. Podesva
Stanford University, California
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This chapter investigates perceived speaker style, reporting results from a matched-guise experiment examining the effect of pitch on perceived talker characteristics. The experiment, conducted in Hawai?i, uses an ethnically diverse talker and participant sample. Two types of analyses were conducted: one used quantitative analysis and broad social categories and the other used tag clouds, where font size represents token frequency, and comparisons across the tag clouds were made qualitatively. The results demonstrate a nuanced relationship between pitch and perceived social characteristics, where the effect of pitch differs depending on what other characteristics are attributed to the speaker. Results also provide evidence that the perceived size of the talker can shift in ways that are counter to widely held beliefs about the link between pitch and perceived size. The results from this study demonstrate that researchers investigating the effect of linguistic variation on perceived social information should examine a range of perceived traits (as well as interactions between those traits) and should include voices and participants from demographic groups that are underrepresented in the literature.

Social Meaning and Linguistic Variation
Theorizing the Third Wave
, pp. 176 - 202
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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