Menu
Home
Log in / Register
 
Home arrow Language & Literature arrow Language, sexuality, and power : studies in intersectional sociolinguistics
Source

Results

Separate mixed-effects regression models for COG, peak frequency, and skewness, revealed that nearly identical predictors emerged as significant across the spectral measures. Moreover, comparable studies of /s/ and gender/sexual- ity in urban communities (Hazenberg 2012; Zimman 2013) primarily report results for COG. Thus, for the sake of brevity as well as comparability, we report here on the factors that influence COG only. However, given that previous work suggests that sibilant duration is another important cue for signaling gay-sounding speech (Linville 1998; Levon 2007), we also present results for log duration in this section.

CENTER OF GRAVITY

Given this study’s primary concern with the social factors predicting /s/ fronting and retraction in the community of Redding, this section focuses mainly on the significant social factors that affect COG. However, as mentioned in the previous section, we considered the effects of linguistic factors alongside social factors in all regression models, so we begin with a brief summary of linguistic factors that influenced COG values. Factors that emerged as significant were the preceding and following sound (both of which exerted a coarticulatory influence on the realization of /s/), stress, phrase position, and log duration. We observed significant fronting effects (i.e., higher COG was occasioned) when /s/ was preceded by front vowels, appeared in stressed syllables, and occurred in phrase- and/or syllable-initial position, and fronter realizations also correlated with longer duration. We also observed significant retraction when /s/ was preceded or followed by /r/ and occurred in phrase- and/or syllable-final position.

In the second series of regression models—which analyzed /s/ tokens from the straight Redding speakers—three social factors emerged as

Center of gravity (ERB) of /s/ as a function of age for women (solid) and men (dashed), for speakers oriented to the country (left) and town (right) (straight-identified speakers only)

figure 9.3 Center of gravity (ERB) of /s/ as a function of age for women (solid) and men (dashed), for speakers oriented to the country (left) and town (right) (straight-identified speakers only)

significant. Figure 9.3 shows how these three factors pattern in the community. First of all, gender is a significant predictor of COG (p < 0.001) in Redding, in that females have higher COG than males. Age likewise is a significant factor (p < 0.0096); there appears to be a change in progress afoot in which younger speakers have a generally fronter /s/ than their elders. However, upon closer examination, we see that age plays a more important role for country-oriented speakers than for town-oriented speakers. A significant interaction effect of age crossed with orientation (p < 0.0113) illustrates that the age effect is strongest with country-oriented individuals (particularly men). Thus, from these findings, we can deduce that country orientation in straight speakers plays an important role in /s/ variation in Redding, in that the older country speakers produce a more retracted /s/, but younger country people appear to have adopted the town norm: a relatively more fronted realization of /s/.

The last part of the analysis incorporated data from the fifteen LGBT speakers in the sample. Figure 9.4 shows COG for each gender and sexuality group, ordered from lowest to highest. In terms of how LGBT speakers compare to their straight counterparts, gay men in the community produce /s/ with a significantly higher COG than do the straight men, which is consistent with previous literature on other communities. Lesbians show significantly lower COG values than the straight women in this community, a pattern

Center of gravity (ERB) of /s/ by gender identity and sexuality (Redding). Straight men significantly lower than gay men (p < 0.0001); straight women significantly higher than lesbians

figure 9.4 Center of gravity (ERB) of /s/ by gender identity and sexuality (Redding). Straight men significantly lower than gay men (p < 0.0001); straight women significantly higher than lesbians

(p < 0.0001) among women that has not been shown in previous studies on other communities. There was no difference between gay men and lesbians. As for the trans speakers, their numbers were too sparse to incorporate into the statistical models, even though the two trans men and two trans women included in our study constitute all four of the trans participants in the LGBT support group. Nevertheless, we find it fruitful to discuss their overall patterning on the descriptive statistic level. Recall that previous research shows that trans men and women exhibit patterns consistent their gender group (Hazenberg 2012; Zimman 2013), rather than with members of their sex classes assigned at birth. This is not quite the case here, as trans women exhibit a somewhat low COG and trans men produce a rather high COG for their gender group. Thus, in terms of COG, trans speakers in the Redding sample do not have appreciably different /s/ (in terms of COG) than do members of their biological sex class assigned at birth.

The trend in Figure 9.4 reveals with some clarity that straight men and women form the poles of the continuum in Redding, with LGBT speakers in the middle. The extreme gender polarization in Redding becomes more noteworthy when we compare the Redding findings with those from urban communities. Figure 9.5 compares patterns observed for men in Redding with those observed for men in San Francisco (Zimman 2013). Because Zimman’s (2013) study quantifies COG in Hz, we depart from our previous analyses, which examine COG in equivalent rectangular bandwidth (ERB), by considering COG in Hz and thereby make our values directly comparable to Zimman’s. Figure 9.6 compares patterns observed for women in Redding with those observed for women in Ottawa, as reported

Mean center of gravity (Hz) of /s/ by gender identity and sexuality for male-identified speakers in Redding (top), compared to San Franciscans (Zimman 2013) (bottom)

figure 9.5 Mean center of gravity (Hz) of /s/ by gender identity and sexuality for male-identified speakers in Redding (top), compared to San Franciscans (Zimman 2013) (bottom)

Mean center of gravity (Hz) of /s/ by gender identity and sexuality for female-identified speakers in Redding (top), compared to Ottawans (Hazenberg 2012) (bottom)

figure 9.6 Mean center of gravity (Hz) of /s/ by gender identity and sexuality for female-identified speakers in Redding (top), compared to Ottawans (Hazenberg 2012) (bottom)

in Hazenberg (2012); data from Californian, or even US, contexts were unavailable. Like Zimman (2013), Hazenberg (2012) quantifies COG data in Hz, so we follow the same practice. Finally, since Hazenberg’s analysis is based only on the lexical item “so,” the Redding values reported in Figure 9.6 likewise are based only on “so” tokens. Compared to straight speakers in Ottawa (Hazenberg 2012) and the San Francisco Bay Area (Zimman 2013), Redding straight men and women sit on the extreme poles of the frequency continuum for /s/ COG. That is, Redding straight men exhibit more retracted /s/ than the straight men of Zimman (2013) (see Figure 9.5), and Redding straight women exhibit more fronted /s/ than the straight women of Hazenberg (2012) (see Figure 9.6).

How do the LGBT speakers in Redding compare to LGBT speakers in urban centers? Figure 9.4 shows us that gay men in Redding have significantly higher COG values than do Redding straight men, but they have lower COG values than gay men in urban areas. In fact, they exhibit an even lower COG than do straight men in San Francisco. Does this mean that everyone in Redding has a low COG, regardless of gender group? When we compare the Redding women with Hazenberg’s (2012) Ottawa women, we fail to see an across-the-board lower COG pattern for all Redding women. However, lesbians in Redding notably have a lower COG than do lesbians in Ottawa, and country-oriented straight women in Redding have a lower COG than do straight women in Ottawa. Such patterns notwithstanding, it is important to note that town-oriented women from Redding have the highest COG levels for any group in any study. So, with respect to gay men, we see Redding speakers exhibiting more retracted variants of /s/ than gay or straight men in urban communities. But Redding lesbians are, by contrast, not as differentiated in COG levels from straight Redding women (at least not the country-oriented women).

Another useful way of thinking about the data is to look at individual patterns. The regression results indicated that Redding gay men are significantly higher than the straight men as a whole, but when we look at individual patterns, we see that they are somewhat evenly distributed across the range of all the male speakers. The trend for individual female speakers is perhaps even more illuminating. Figure 9.7 shows the mean COG for straight town-oriented (in white), straight country-oriented (in gray), and lesbian (in black) women. Here, country-oriented women form the poles of the continuum: They have both the lowest COG values as well as the highest COG values, depending on age. Age plays an integral role in this pattern because women with the highest values are the younger country women, while those with the lowest are the older country women. Clustered along with these older country women

Center of gravity

figure 9.7 Center of gravity (ERB) of /s/ by individual for lesbian (black), straight country-identified (gray), and straight town-identified (white) women are three of the four lesbians. So, the women in Redding who produce the lowest COG values (or most retracted /s/) are lesbians and older straight country women.

 
Source
Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >
 
Subjects
Accounting
Business & Finance
Communication
Computer Science
Economics
Education
Engineering
Environment
Geography
Health
History
Language & Literature
Law
Management
Marketing
Mathematics
Political science
Philosophy
Psychology
Religion
Sociology
Travel