voice and race recognition

s.t. bischoff bischoff.st at gmail.com
Tue Dec 28 19:33:26 UTC 2010

Hi all,

Thanks for the stimulating responses, as Claire Bowern notes there has been
a good deal of research in this area going back at least to the 1970s.
However, the overwhelming majority seems to be coming from
social-psychology. I suppose my linguistic bias lead me to think that most
such work would be coming out of linguistics (socio or anthropological).

Thanks again,
PS The NPR test is clever...I've often tried to imagine the  presenters and
guests background and likeness...curiously I've never gone online to check.

2010/12/28 <john at research.haifa.ac.il>

> Forgot to mention--Obama's 'Canadian raising' is presumably from Hawaiian
> English (ultimately Hawaiian substratum), best-known from the way that
> natives say the name of the state.
> John
> Quoting Johanna Rubba <jrubba at calpoly.edu>:
> > As to identifying African Americans by their speech, I heard once
> > that the structure of most AA men's larynx is different from that of
> > whites, and this was responsible, first of all, for a deeper voice in
> > many cases, and second of all, for that elusive quality that John
> > refers to. I immediately pegged this as incredibly racist, but
> > apparently, according to someone I respected, it was legitimate
> > science. This was a long time ago. and I don't remember the details.
> > This could account for a difference between black men and women.
> >
> > I'm not sure I'd recognize that Barack Obama was (half) AA merely by
> > his voice. I certainly have mistaken black speakers for white any
> > number of times. I just listened to some clips of his speeches on
> > YouTube and I do hear the voice quality I think John is talking
> > about. He monophthongizes his /ai/'s sometimes, but also does
> > Canadian raising on them. I don't detect any of the other cues that
> > usually flag an AA voice for me (e.g., glottal stop at the end of
> > words that end in /t/).
> >
> > You've probably heard of John Baugh's personal experiment of calling
> > about apartments for rent, sometimes using AA English, and sometimes
> > standard English. He gets far more callbacks when using his "white"
> > voice.
> >
> > I'm a regular NPR listener and I often speculate on both the
> > ethnicity and the personal appearance of their speakers. There are
> > photos of all of the speakers (and some of the people you don't hear,
> > like Kee Malesky and Doug Berman) on the NPR website, and I have
> > checked several of the speakers that I suspected were AA. I was right
> > about Korva Coleman, Cheryl Corely, Audie Cornish, Alison Keyes, and
> > Juan Williams, but wrong about Ann Taylor, Barbara Bradley Hagerty,
> > and Paul Brown. In general, most of the people I've checked don't
> > look at all like I would have expected. Terri Gross and the Magliozzi
> > brothers look pretty much like what I would have expected, but others
> > do not look at all like I expected. Interestingly, I had pegged Steve
> > Innskeep as being attractive, and got pretty close to his facial type.
> >
> > A cool little experiment. Try it sometime!
> >
> > Dr. Johanna Rubba, Ph. D.
> > Professor, Linguistics
> > Linguistics Minor Advisor
> > English Dept.
> > Cal Poly State University San Luis Obispo
> > San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
> > Ofc. tel. : 805-756-2184
> > Dept. tel.: 805-756-2596
> > Dept. fax: 805-756-6374
> > E-mail: jrubba at calpoly.edu
> > URL: http://cla.calpoly.edu/~jrubba <http://cla.calpoly.edu/%7Ejrubba>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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