Language Variation & Change

December 10, 2021 | 3:30PM

Please join us for this quarter's last meeting of Language Variation and Change Workshop, this Friday, December 10th, at 3:30 pm, on Zoom (link to be sent on Friday morning). Sam Gray (UChicago) will give us a talk about his dissertation project. Below you can find a short abstract to Sam's talk. 

"Transmasculine Voices: Acoustic Change and Satisfaction on HRT

There is a large body of work examining how various acoustic properties of the voice are linked to gender, either through physiological traits such as larynx length or social tendencies such as differences in intonational patterns. Transgender individuals are a group that blurs lines both between the male-female dichotomy and between biological and social factors, but existing research on trans male and transmasculine voices in particular is limited in what it tends to examine, largely focusing on changes in pitch due to the effects of testosterone therapy (HRT) during transition. Despite pitch lowering to cisgender male norms being a common result of this therapy, many individuals report continued dissatisfaction with their voices; additionally, a cisgender male-passing voice is not the desired goal of all speakers, with factors such as identity, presentation, and sexuality all playing a role.

The aim of my ongoing research is to examine how several gender-linked acoustic features change over the course of testosterone HRT, and how they are affected by participants' personal vocal goals, presentation, and identity. Although the project is still in the data-collection phase, I will describe the reasoning behind the features examined, the questions I hope to work towards answering, and what predictions may be made. I will focus in particular on the possibility and implications of the "J-curve" pattern described by Papp (2012), and the manner in which trans speakers' unique awareness of their voice may affect production."