IJLLL 2022 Vol.8(2): 79-83 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2022.8.2.326

A Sociophonetic Investigation of Chinese Gay Couples' Variability of Pitch Properties in Vlogs

Xinyu Liao
Abstract—Despite the accumulating body of research in sociophonetics exploring gay men’s pitch characteristics (i.e., mean vocal pitch and pitch range), previous studies usually investigate a uniform concept of ‘gay men’s speech’ by comparing heterosexual and gay men’s pitch properties. However, results were contesting and inconsistent across various studies regarding the pitch properties (pitch ranges or mean voice pitch) of gay men. Instead of treating gay men’s speech as a unified speaking style, this paper investigates the multiplicity of gay speaking styles by exploring the intra-group pitch variations among 20 pairs of Chinese gay couples in their self-shot videos. Specifically, the present study compares the pitch properties, including the mean vocal pitch, pitch range, and pitch variability, between those Chinese gay men who selfposition as ‘lao gong’ (husband) and those who self-identify as ‘lao po’ (wife) in their love vlogs (video blogs). These videos normally last from 5 to 10 minutes on a Chinese online video sharing platform - ‘Bilibili.’ After dividing these gay couples’ utterances into intonational phrases, I used the speech analysis software named Praat to measure the average pitch, pitch range (the maximum pitch value minus minimum pitch value), and pitch variability (the standard deviation of pitch values) on each intonational phrase. Compared with those ‘gay husbands,’ results showed that those ‘gay wives’ would speak with higherpitched voices (p < 0.05), wider pitch ranges (p < 0.0001), and more variable pitch values (p < 0.0001). When locating the discourse functions of these pitch characteristics in their vlogs, I argue that those ‘gay wives’ frequently utilize the so-called ‘pitch dynamism’ to construct an expressive and cute ‘wife’ persona in intimate discourse.

Index Terms—Gay men's speech, Mandarin Chinese, pitch, sociophonetics.

The author is with University of Nottingham Ningbo China, China (email: hnyxl5@ nottingham.edu.cn).

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Cite:Xinyu Liao, "A Sociophonetic Investigation of Chinese Gay Couples' Variability of Pitch Properties in Vlogs," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 79-83, 2022.

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