Voice quality as a marker of ethnicity in New Zealand: From acoustics to perception


Anita Szakay, Department of Linguistics, University of British Columbia, 2613 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4, szakay@interchange.ubc.ca


This study is the first acoustic analysis of voice quality in the two main ethnic dialects of New Zealand English. In a production experiment, narratives from 36 speakers were analyzed and H1-H2 spectral tilt measures were calculated for each vowel. The results provide instrumental evidence for impressionistic claims about the differing voice quality features of the two main ethnic groups, showing that Maori English speakers are creakier than European New Zealanders. A perception experiment was also carried out to determine the perceptual salience of voice quality for the identification of speaker ethnicity. The results of regression analyses confirm that listeners are sensitive to the phonation differences, and are able to rely on phonation cues in an ethnic dialect identification task. The study demonstrates the role of voice quality as a critical sociolinguistic variable, and highlights the importance of listeners’ previous dialect exposure in terms of sensitivity to prosodic cues.

Ko tēnei pūrongo te tirohanga tuatahi ki ētahi āhuatanga o te reo e puta ana i te korokoro o ngā kaikōrero o ngā reo ā-iwi e rua o te Reo Pākehā i Aotearoa. I tētahi whakamātau i āta tirohia ngā oropuare o ētahi kōrero nō ngā kaikōrero 36, ā, kua tatauria ngā ine H1-H2 e kīia ana ko te spectral tilt. Ko ngā putanga he taunakitanga mō ngā whakaaro o te tāngata e pā ana ki te rerekētanga o ngā reo o te hunga Pākehā me te hunga Māori, e whakaatu hoki ana he kekē atu te reo o ngā mea e kōrero ana i te ‘Māori English’ i te reo e kōrerohia ana e te iwi Pākehā. He whakamātau whakarongo i whakahaerehia kia kite mena he āwhina tēnei āhuatanga o te reo kia mōhio te kaiwhakarongo ko wai te iwi o te kaikōrero. Ko ngā whakaputanga o ngā tatauranga e kī ana kei te tino mārama tēnei āhuatanga o te reo e puta ana i te korokoro o te tāngata, ā, ka taea ēnei rerekētanga te whakamahi kia whakawehea te tangata Māori i te tangata Pākehā. Nā tēnei ka kitea he āhuatanga motuhake te reo o te korokoro, ā, he mea nui hoki mena kua tino wāia te kaiwhakarongo ki ngā reo ā-iwi. [Māori]