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Cross-linguistic perceptions of /s/ among English, French, and German Listeners

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Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage Variation and Change
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Sep 2020


This study reports the results of a cross-linguistic matched guise test examining /s/ and pitch variation in judgements of sexual orientation and non-normative masculinity among English, French, and German listeners. Listeners responded to /s/ and pitch manipulations in native and other language stimuli (English, French, German, and Estonian). All listener groups rate higher pitch guises as more gay- and effeminate-sounding than lower pitch guises. However, only English listeners hear [s+] guises as more gay- and effeminate-sounding than [s] or [s-] guises for all stimuli languages. French and German listeners do not hear [s+] guises as more gay- or effeminate-sounding in any stimuli language, despite this feature’s presence in native speech production. English listener results show evidence of indexical transfer, when indexical knowledge is applied to the perception of unknown languages. French and German listener results show how the enregistered status of /s/ variation affects perception, despite cross-linguistic similarities in production.

    Research areas

  • sociolinguistics, sociophonetics, phonetics, second language, perception, matched guise, cross-linguistic, indexicality, social meaning, sexual orientation, gay identity, English (language), French language, German language, attitudes, language attitudes, linguistic variation

ID: 163730249