Children's Awareness of Gender Markers in Speech What vocal parameters do children manipulate in role play?
(2017) Children's Awareness of Gender Markers in Speech What vocal parameters do children manipulate in role play?, no. 44.
This study begins a discussion into children's understanding of gender. This study examines what vocal features children understand to be gender specific. This potentially adds to other research around the topic of gender development in children. Six girls (7-11 years old) participated in a role play scenario; this included the reading of a play, once in their own natural voice, followed by a reading in their character roles. The characters within the play were either female or male, and ranged in age. Children showed a range of voice adjustments when acting out a role, but some specific voice settings were seen in the children acting out adult male roles. When playing a female, common features of voice changed including; tension within the vocal tract and larynx, lowering of the larynx, spreading of the lips, fronting of the lingual features (tongue). When playing a male, both children demonstrated exaggerated backing of all vocal tract features including tongue body, tip/blade of the tongue, and lowering of the tongue and rounding of the lips. Contrary to expectations, F0 (Fundamental Frequency) was not manipulated as expected and there were minimal changes to phonation types. The data was analysed using Vocal Profile Analysis Protocol, an acoustic perceptual analysis technique. F0 was also measured, using vocal programme PRAAT. I also asked experienced listeners to give some insight into perception of the different voices which is included in the results chapter. This project is a preliminary study into children's awareness of gender specific vocal features. Observations about what voice features they perceive to be salient markers of gender, through manipulation of their voices in play, can be made.