Listeners display acute sensitivity to phonetic variation that marks social identity; this sensitivity is observable in listener perceptions of a variety of social identities, including social class, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Most previous research on phonetic variation and sexual orientation has focused on English, with little data available from other languages. The current study addresses this gap by exploring associations between phonetic variation and perception of social categories in Spanish, with a focus on perception of sexual orientation. The study examined listener perceptions of speaker sexual orientation, height, age, and social class to determine to what extent Spanish-speaking listeners make uniform evaluations of sexual orientation based on speech, and, if so, what acoustic parameters correlate with those evaluations. The study also analyzed the relationships between perceptions of speaker sexual orientation and speaker height, age, and social class. Clusters of listeners determined a posteriori using factor analysis were found to share patterns of evaluations, and F2 frequencies of two mid front vowel (/e/) tokens were signifi cant correlates of evaluations of sexual orientation. Listener evaluations of perceived sexual orientation were correlated with evaluations of perceived height, highlighting the complexity of indexicality as well as the multi-faceted nature of social identity.
© 2010 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/New York