Phonetic studies of phonological contrasts in features such as vowel height and consonant voicing have revealed a gender difference: phonetic correlates of phonological contrasts produced by women tend to be more distinct in acoustic and temporal space than those produced by men. However, these studies have been constrained by their dichotomous approach to gender. This article examines within-sex variation in phonetic correlates of phonological contrasts among eight American male radio disc jockeys. Four variables were examined: vowel space dispersion, consonant lenition, and two types of vowel length contrast. The social characteristics of the DJs were enumerated by having listeners rate each voice on 10 Likert scales. These ratings were aggregated into four components, which were interpreted as masculinity (i.e., gender), social class, regional accent, and personality. Two of these, masculinity and regional accent, showed significant correlations with the phonetic variables, demonstrating that phonetic distinctiveness correlates with speakers' social characteristics.
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Kevin Heffernan; MUMBLING IS Macho: PHONETIC DISTINCTIVENESS IN THE SPEECH OF AMERICAN RADIO Djs. American Speech 1 February 2010; 85 (1): 67–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-2010-003
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