Tran/s/gender: assessing the effects of the social construction of gender on speech: a focus on transgender /s/ realisations

Parnell-Mooney, James (2019) Tran/s/gender: assessing the effects of the social construction of gender on speech: a focus on transgender /s/ realisations. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The purpose of this study is to gauge how much one’s speech is conditioned by their gender identity rather than by their sex. Many features of speech have been shown to vary depending on speaker sex and gender such as pitch, lexis, syntax and volume. On a more fine-grained level, fricatives have been shown to index speaker sex and this was initially attributed to biological sex differences; ‘larger’ males would have a physically larger vocal tract and thus have lower peak frequencies. However, studies have indicated that gender identity also has an impact on peak frequency; speakers actively alter their /s/ production in order to index their gender and female speakers produce ‘fronter’ articulations of /s/ resulting in higher peak frequencies. Meanwhile, males have ‘backer’ articulations and actively lower peak frequencies. While these show /s/ to index speaker gender, it has also been found that /s/ varies depending on conversational context - females in same-sex conversations have been shown to raise peak frequencies. Little sociophonetic study has been carried out on transgender voice, however, it has been found that peak frequencies of transmasculine speakers pattern based on their gender identity and the length of time they have identified as such, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth. This study analysed data collected from six participants; four transmasculine and two non-binary speakers, across three conversational contexts; conversation with a cisgender male, cisgender female and transgender interlocutor. The peak frequencies of participants /s/ realisations were be measured and analysed across conversational context. This study found that most transmasculine participants’ peak frequencies pattern with their gender identity while non-binary speakers behave differently in a unique way. Transmasculine and some non-binary speakers also vary their peaks across conversational contexts but non-binary speakers are not systematic in this variation.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Sociolinguistics, phonetics, sociophonetics, trans linguistics, s realisation, s frequencies, transgender language, transgender linguistics.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Jane, Prof. Stuart-Smith
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Mr James Parnell-Mooney
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-41151
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2019 13:49
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 21:34
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.41151

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