Feeling disabled: Vowel quality and assistive hearing devices in embodying affect

Tsung-Lun Alan Wan*, Lauren Hall-Lew, Claire Cowie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has proposed that phonetic variation may index affect prior to indexing social meaning. This study explores whether the affective indexicality of vowels identified in previous studies can also be observed among deaf or hard-of-hearing speakers, in this case speakers of Taiwan Mandarin. The results suggest that /i/ backing is invoked to signal negative affect. This study also demonstrates how assistive devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants can also be considered semiotic resources. For deaf or hard-of-hearing speakers, assistive hearing devices enter into a process of bricolage with linguistic and other symbolic resources, generating new potentials for the embodiment of affect.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage in Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Feb 2022


  • affect
  • iconicity
  • Taiwan Mandarin
  • embodied sociolinguistics
  • deafness


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