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Percepts of Hungarian Pitch-Shifted Male Speech

Peter Racz and Viktoria Papp

Introduction

The aim of this chapter is to report on the results of an online study on the perception of male pitch in Hungarian. Respondents listened to either a male voice with raised pitch or the same male voice with lowered pitch, and they rated the voice on a number of attribute scales (such as short-tall). The main result is that, contrary to the expected outcome based on the Western sociolinguistic literature, the voice with the lowered pitch was rated as significantly more feminine. Principal components analysis of the ratings shows a correlation of ratings on the straight-gay dimension with other scales. These correlations provide evidence on an overwhelmingly negative implicit attitude toward gay men among the respondents.

The next section reviews the literature on pitch variation to show that pitch is not merely an acoustic correlate of body size but, rather, shows complex, structured variation depending on a larger scale of social than biological factors. This is underpinned by results on pitch perception—the judgments of speaker attributes based on pitch show a pattern of structured variation. At the same time, these judgments match the actual traits of these speakers rather poorly.

We then go on to discuss the methods used in our experiment, before turning to a detailed exposition of our results. The section “Discussion” focuses on the difference between our results and those reported in the Western sociolinguistic literature.

 
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