This paper addresses the relationship between speech variation and perceptions of social identity. It reports data from an implicit measures timed voice recognition experiment that examined the interaction between the syllable-final voiceless alveolar sibilant and perceptions of male sexual orientation in Puerto Rican Spanish. Although patterns of sibilant variation are linked anecdotally to perceived sexual orientation, there are no systematically collected data that document the relationship; this study is an exploratory look at the issue. In the study, 43 listeners completed a timed voice recognition task. A d-prime analysis indicated there was a weaker signal for the deleted variant stimuli when produced by gay sounding talkers, suggesting a possible connection between sibilant variation and perceived sexual orientation. In addition, a three factor mixed model ANOVA found a significant main effect of perceived sexual orientation, F (1, 41) = 6.47, p < .05, with responses to gay sounding talkers being faster than those to straight sounding talkers, indicating an overall sensitivity to socially stratified variation. Taken together, these results suggest fruitful directions for future investigations of speech and sexual orientation, /s/ variation in Spanish, and speech processing.
Selected Proceedings of the 13th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Luis A. Ortiz-López
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