This paper offers an initial examination of stereotypes of speech and gay male sexual orientation in Puerto Rican Spanish. The data presented were gathered as part of a larger project examining the association between sociophonetic variation and perception of sexual orientation using both explicit and implicit measures. In the current study, 88 participants completed interviews in which they reported opinions on speech stereotypes associated with male sexual orientation. Results indicate that there is considerable uniformity in notions of speech variation associated with the gay male speech stereotype for the participants in the study, and that the single most cited stereotypical marker of sexual orientation is related to stereotypical notions of gender. Other specific patterns of variation associated with the stereotype are distinct tone, pitch, or intonation, more careful pronunciation, an increased use of gestures, a more "nasal" voice, the use of specific words or slang, and distinct realization of /s/ and /r/. The results suggest that speakers have a specific, shared understanding of stereotypes related to social categories, and that they make distinctions between those stereotypes and real world linguistic experience. These results underscore the need for methods that measure both conscious and subconscious effects of stereotypes in speech perception and production, as well as the connections between speech stereotypes and real world variation.
Selected Proceedings of the 12th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Claudia Borgonovo, Manuel Español-Echevarría, and Philippe Prévost
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