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Gay Male Identity

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Why does a voice of gay very often sound feminine? Why do they lisp? Do gays want to differ or do they just pretend it? Do people recognize gay males based on their speech? Attempts to answer these questions have only recently moved beyond stereotyped assumptions that gay men speak like heterosexual women, and lesbians like heterosexual men (Sims, 2004, online). There are several features attributed to gay male identity. These features include overly careful pronunciation, a wide pitch range, high and rapidly changing pitch, breathy tone, lengthened fricative sounds (for example, long /s/, /z/) and pronunciation of /t/ and /d/ as ts and dz (Sims, 2004). Furthermore, the most recognized linguistic feature among gay men is frontal lisping of /s/ and /z/ (Van Brostel, Van Rentergem & Verhaeghe, 2007) . Not only those, but their use of sarcasm, slang and specific vocabulary are also typical of some gay men. The definition of lisping is complicated and not consistent. Bleile (2007) says that it is a speech pattern in which alveolar consonants are pronounced with the tongue either on or between the front teeth. However, Mack and Munson (2011) point out that nowadays language-pathology tend not to use the term lisping, more likely it describes speech production errors of /s/ and /z/ with terms such additions, deletions, substitutions, distortions, or ‘dentalization’, etc. Gay lisp stereotype had never been verified by any sufficient evidence before scholars from the Belgian
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