How Gay Do You Sound?

The boffins have been at it again, with researchers tackling the thorny issue of "gay-sounding" speech, and what makes it that way. Apparently, there's been at least three studies conducted, according to The Guardian; the first it mentions comes from Stanford University, who came up with a paper called Sounding Gay: Pitch Properties in the Speech of Gay and Straight Men. The men in white coats listened to a bunch of openly gay white American men and some "openly straight" white American men. (Openly straight? No, I'll leave that one alone...) The result of this was the realisation that the problem required more research, particularly into things like the pronunciation of sibilants, duration of vowels and voice equality.

Acoustic Correlates of Less-Masculine Sounding Speech is the next study, and it tagged two types of speech: LMS (less-masculine-sounding male speech) and MMS (more-masculine-sounding male speech). The boffins behind this research thought that the discovery of LMS and MMS "may have clinical relevance for patients wishing to modify the perception of masculinity invoked by their speech."

Last year, a team at the University of Minnesota published The Influence of Sexual Orientation on Vowel Production. It concluded that "gay men produced a more expanded vowel space than heterosexual men."

It's an interesting subject - who genuinely believes there's a gay sound of speech? Certainly, a lot of us sound gay, but is it universal? Are there degrees of gay speech, from Alex-out-of-Noah's Arc-obvious, to something more subtle only the trained ear picks up on. Do you think you sound gay? And how many of your friends sounds gay - and do you have any straight friends who speak LMS?

Answers on a postcard.


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