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Does posh english sound attractive?

Jiao, L; Wang, C; Hsu, C; Birkholz, P; Xu, Y; (2017) Does posh english sound attractive? In: (pp. pp. 2257-2261). International Speech Communication Association (ISCA) Green open access

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Abstract

Poshness refers to how much a British English speaker sounds upper class when they talk. Popular descriptions of posh English mostly focus on vocabulary, accent and phonology. This study tests the hypothesis that, as a social index, poshness is also manifested via phonetic properties known to encode vocal attractiveness. Specifically, posh English, because of its impression of being detached, authoritative and condescending, would more closely resemble an attractive male voice than an attractive female voice. In four experiments, we tested this hypothesis by acoustically manipulating Cambridge-Accented English utterances by a male and a female speaker through PSOLA resynthesis, and having native speakers of British English judge how posh or attractive each utterance sounds. The manipulated acoustic dimensions are formant dispersion, pitch shift and speech rate. Initial results from the first two experiments showed a trend in the hypothesized direction for the male speakers' utterances. But for the female utterances there was a ceiling effect due to the frequent alternation of speaker gender within the same test session. When the two speakers' utterances were separated by blocks in the third and fourth experiments, a clearer support for t he main hypothesis was found.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Does posh english sound attractive?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1691
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1691
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Posh English, vocal attractiveness, formant ratio shift, pitch shift, duration
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048503
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