Date of Degree

9-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Linguistics

Advisor

Juliette Blevins

Subject Categories

Acting | Anthropological Linguistics and Sociolinguistics | Discourse and Text Linguistics | Other Linguistics | Performance Studies | Phonetics and Phonology

Keywords

glottal stop, laryngealization, guttural, voice care, vocal health, voice and speech

Abstract

This thesis analyzes explicit metadiscourse (Johnstone et al 2006) on throaty sounds, primarily focused on glottal segments and non-modal constricted voice quality in English. Authors contributing to this metadiscourse are argued to be an offshoot of the speech chain network which valorized and circulated the English accent known as RP or Received Pronunciation, studied by Agha (2003). The evaluated texts center on English-speaking elocution, singing training, voice, speech, and voice care. The analysis shows glottal and guttural articulations are framed negatively and often discouraged by appeals to both health and aesthetics. Many authors in this performance speech chain network assert a linguistic ideology in the form of a belief mediating between language use and social structure: throaty sounds are bad for performers. However, as glottal stops and other laryngeal sounds are basic and naturally occurring consonants in many of the world’s languages, there is counter evidence to the view of them as problematic, injurious, or aberrant. Instead, it is theorized here that the negative outlook on throaty sounds is more deeply tied to historical and current-day social evaluation of stigmatized speakers of English who use salient throaty sounds, notably via associations with class, gender, and racialization. Negative material effects stem from this linguistic ideology. This research raises questions about the cultural framing of vocal health and the iconicity of voice quality.

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