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The sociophonetics of gender in three Chinese varieties

TitleThe sociophonetics of gender in three Chinese varieties
Publication TypeConference Presentation
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsBeckman, M. E., Li F., & Shih Y.
Conference Name30th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL-30)

Gender effects in phonetics seem to be ubiquitous and also extremely diverse and culture-specific, perhaps reflecting a multiplicity of bases. For example, effects that lower the characteristic frequencies of some sounds in men’s speech relative to women’s speech (or vice-versa) could be based in culture-specific exaggerations of the sexual dimorphism of the species. By contrast, effects that enhance some phonetic contrasts in women’s speech relative to men’s speech may be related to the typically dominant role of women in language socialization. Yet other gender effects might arise from the frequent role of women as the leading agents in sound changes in progress, including changes resulting from language contact. This talk reviews analyses in collaboration with Ohio State University alumni Ya-ting Shih (Chung Yuan Christian U) and Fangfang Li (U of Lethbridge) of men’s and women’s productions that illustrate the different possible bases for gender effects in several Chinese corpora gathered in the course of a large multi-site comparison of phonological development.

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