Strong /t/

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Peter Serafinowicz has created and uploaded to YouTube several dozen videos in the "Sassy Trump" series, in which he revoices Donald Trump's words in a stereotypically gay manner. One example:

Since the originals are of course also available, this offers an interesting opportunity to investigate (one person's idea of) gay speech stereotypes in a quasi-"matched guise" format:

I don't have time this morning for a more extensive analysis, but here's a short illustrative excerpt from that single pair of video clips:

President Donald Trump "Sassy Trump" revoicing

Although Serafinowicz gives the impression of using higher pitches overall, in fact the media f0 values in those clips are pretty similar, with Sassy Trump in fact a bit lower: 123 Hz vs. 130 Hz. However, his pitch range is greater: measured as the difference in semitones between the 90th percentile and the 10th percentile of f0 values, Sassy Trump is 9.56 vs. President Trump at 6.00. And similarly for the median absolute deviation from the median ("MAD") — 13.56 Hz for Sassy Trump vs. 8.18 Hz for President Trump.

Several descriptions of gay male speech patterns* have pointed to a greater tendency to release final stops, especially /t/ and /d/, and this is certainly part of what Serafinowicz does. Here's the end of that clip, with the stop releases marked with red arrows:

I've also marked the weak /s/ at the end of "ships", a feature that seems to be associated with the lisp stereotype.

The original is strikingly different in both of these respects:

*Some discussions of stop-release variation:

Virginia Merlini, "Observable phenomena in homosexual male voices", UPenn M.A. thesis, 1991.
Robert Podesva, "Three sources of stylistic meaning", Texas Linguistic Forum 2008.
Victoria Dickinson & Yorath Turner, "Pulling Out All the Stops: Referee Design and Phonetic Correlates of Gay Men's English", Lifespans and Styles: Undergraduate Working Papers on Intraspeaker Variation, 2015.

1 Comment

  1. John Swindle said,

    May 8, 2017 @ 4:03 am

    Not with a ten-foot pole.

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