Harder, Kathryn

Project title: What’s the creakin’ deal? The role of pitch and speaker gender in influencing listener judgments of creak

Department: Linguistics

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Sonya Bird and Prof. Alexandra D’Arcy

"Recent public media discourse disparages speakers who employ creaky voice, citing that it undermines their authority and their intellect (Vuolo 2012; Zola 2015). It is most often invoked in subjective judgments of women's speech and, by association, of their personality. Recent studies that examine perception of creaky voice have shown that its use may have a positive effect on dimensions of solidarity, such as likability and friendliness (Yuasa 2010; Parker & Borrie 2017 ), while negatively affecting dimensions of status, such as intelligence, education, and professionalism (Anderson et al. 2014). Current literature has either examined how the use of creaky voice by men affects listener judgments, or how the use of creaky voice by women affects listener judgments, but studies rarely examine both at the same time (i.e. gender on perceptions of creak and creak use by men and women). Furthermore, few studies examine the effect of pitch on listener judgements of speakers using creaky voice.

This honours research project aims to address these gaps. The study design incorporates four speakers, two men and two women, each chosen to represent one of four pitch targets (hi/low pitch man, hi/low pitch woman). Following Davidson (2019), the stimuli include three voice qualities per speaker: modal voice (no irregularity in glottal pulses and jitter < 2%), partial creak (the final 40-50% of the audio contains sonorant consonants or vowels with irregular glottal pulses and jitter > 2%), and whole creak (jitter > 2% and > 85% of the sound file contains sonorant consonants or vowels with irregular glottal pulses). Each speaker has a total of 3 clips representing each of the 3 voice qualities. Participants will assess each clip along 4 parameters: friendliness, likeability, intelligence, and education. I hypothesize that the presence of creaky voice will influence listeners' judgments: creaky women will be judged as less intelligent and less educated, but more friendly and more likeable, compared to their modal clips, while creaky men will be judged as more intelligent, educated, friendly, and likeable compared to their modal clips."