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Our publications

Hejná, Míša, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, Mark Eaton, Mathias Clasen, Zac Boyd, and Oliver Niebuhr, eds. 2024. Proceedings of the 2023 Aarhus International Conference on Voice Studies. Sciendo (De Gruyter). https://doi.org/10.2478/9788366675513.

Abstract: The voice is a carrier of many meanings. It expresses our thoughts and feelings, and it echoes our life experiences and who we are. With the voice positioned at the nexus of human communication, it is no surprise that its study has been of interest to a range of diverse disciplines. It can nevertheless be challenging to connect the findings of individual disciplines in a more holistic understanding of the voice. Approaching this challenge was at the heart of the 2023 Aarhus International Conference on Voice Studies, organized by the Centre of Voice Studies at Aarhus University. The conference was held in Aarhus on the 16th–18th of August 2023 at Aarhus University, Denmark. These proceedings present some of the outcomes of this endeavour. Some contributors focus on sociolinguistics, that is, on the ways in which the voice communicates and negotiates social meanings and relationships. Another focus is applied linguistics. Several contributors investigate how findings about vocal variation can address societal challenges, such as those posed in the realms of forensics and healthcare communication. Some contributions are mainly concerned with interfaces in the sense of how voice interacts with other aspects of linguistics, including syntax and lexis. Finally, many contributors explore how voice contributes to meaningful communication in different media, such as television and audiobooks.

Hejná, Míša, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, and Mark Eaton. 2024. “Why Interdisciplinary Approaches to Voice Studies?” In Proceedings of the 2023 Aarhus International Conference on Voice Studies, edited by Míša Hejná, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, Mark Eaton, Mathias Clasen, Zac Boyd, and Oliver Niebuhr, 1–5. Sciendo (De Gruyter). https://doi.org/10.2478/9788366675513-001.

Abstract: All contributors to The Proceedings of the 2023 Aarhus International Conference on Voice Studies examine the human voice from multiple disciplinary perspectives. As the editors of these proceedings know well from their own work, such interdisciplinarity comes with a wide range of challenges: of collaboration, of communication, of institutional and infrastructural accommodation. In this introduction, we wish to examine the nature of these challenges, and to provide some suggestions about how they might best be negotiated. First, however, we provide a brief overview of voice studies: the interdisciplinary study of the human voice.

Boyd, Zac. 2024. “Intersections of Sexual Orientation, Bilingualism, and /s/ Variation in French and German Men’s Speech.” In Proceedings of the 2023 Aarhus International Conference on Voice Studies, edited by Míša Hejná, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, Mark Eaton, Mathias Clasen, Zac Boyd, and Oliver Niebuhr, 6–15. Sciendo (De Gruyter). https://doi.org/10.2478/9788366675513-002.

Abstract: Previous studies of the interaction between language, gender, and sexualorientation have shown /s/ to be a robust variable indexing gay identity in men’s speech. This study expands upon the previously established linguistic framework of indexing gayness by exploring /s/ variation in native and non-native speech of bilingual speakers, examining how the linguistic construction of gay identity interacts between L2 English production and constraints of their native language based on read speech data of 19 gay and straight French and German men. Results show that some gay speakers produce /s/ with a higher centre of gravity (CoG) than the straight speakers. Results also suggest that, overall, a speaker’s native language does not have a significant impact on the quality of his /s/ production in English. These results are consistent with previous findings, which show sibilant variation to index sexual orientation in monolingual gay men’s speech and provide evidence of this feature acting as an index of sexual orientation in French and German. Furthermore, the results call for a greater level of inquiry into how gay speakers who employ this feature construct their gay identities beyond a purely gay/straight dichotomy.

Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, Jens. 2024. “Lost in Standardization: How the Danish Dubbing of Zootopia Diminishes the Film’s Message.” 16:9 (April 3, 2024). https://www.16-9.dk/2024/04/zootopia/.

Abstract: The Danish dubbings of Disney’s animated films are typically faithful to the originals and accomplished in their own right. There is, however, one aspect of the original English voice performances that they rarely capture, which is their creative use of different accents and dialects. Taking Zootopia (2016) as his example, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen examines how the resulting lack of linguistic diversity can compromise not just a film’s characterization, but also its narrative cogency and thematic impact.

Hejná, Míša. 2024. “A Phonetician’s Reading of Darwin’s Notes on the Vocal.” Proceedings from FONETIK 2024, Stockholm, June 3–5, 2024, 33–38. Stockholm University. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.11396058.

Abstract: Sexual dimorphism has played a key role in research on vocal attractiveness. This paper looks at Darwin’s The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871[2021]) with the following questions in mind: 1) What role does the vocal have according to Darwin?; 2) What reasons are provided for any tendencies identified by Darwin?; and 3) Have these (in humans) been supported by research conducted since? Darwin consistently acknowledges the role of the voice in sexual selection. Specific details are discussed in the paper, which further compares these with more recent research on vocal attractiveness and suggests further avenues of research from a phonetician’s perspective.

Habekost, Emma, Zac Boyd, and Míša Hejná. 2024. “The Role of F0 and Vowel Formant Dispersion in Cis-Gender Female-Male Flirting Interactions.” Proceedings from FONETIK 2024, Stockholm, June 3–5, 2024, 57–64. Stockholm University. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.11396074.

Abstract: This study explores variation in the fundamental frequency (F0) and Vowel Formant Dispersion (VFD) in cis-gender, heterosexual men (n=4) and women (n=4) within flirting interactions (compared to non-flirting interactions) on the American reality show ‘Married at First Sight’. Results show that women of this study produce a rise in mean F0 while in flirting interactions and men project larger vocal tract sizes (lower VFD). Our findings suggest that women may perform greater degrees of stereotypical hyper-femininity via F0 variation when aiming to appear more attractive to a desired male partner – at least for the speakers of the current dataset. As for the men, two speakers exhibit lower F0 when in the flirting context (possibly signalling notions of hyper-masculinity) where the other two raise F0 (possibly accommodating to their romantic partner). VFD shows similarly diverse results, with all men possibly using it to signal hyper-masculinity and only two women hyper-femininity. These results suggest that speakers of this study combine features associated with stereotypically hyper-gendered speech production with aspects of vocal accommodation to their partner in their flirting strategies.

Jespersen, Anna, and Míša Hejná. 2024. “How Can Quantitative Measures of Social Age Help Us Analyse Uptalk?Proceedings from FONETIK 2024, Stockholm, June 3–5, 2024, 67–72. Stockholm University. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.11396078.

Abstract: Uptalk has been established to be indexically linked with certain social groups, including young, female speakers. This means this intonational feature has been claimed to index a young or youthful age. As recent work has attempted to broaden the sociolinguistic variable of age from chronology (the number of years lived) to encompass a speaker’s biological and social age, the assessment of speakers’ age groups is necessarily complicated. This paper investigates whether the uptalk produced by two female speakers of Tyneside English can be seen to co-vary with chronological and social age, and how various measures of social age may be used to initiate or triangulate sociophonetic analyses of age-related features such as uptalk. The paper exemplifies the way in which the linguist can productively investigate age beyond chronology.

Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, Jens. 2024. “The Voice of the People: Populism and Donald Trump's Use of Informal Voice.” Society 61 (3): 289–302. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-024-00969-7.

Abstract: Many studies have examined characteristic verbal aspects of Donald J. Trump’s political communication, from his authoritarian rhetoric to his preference for short words and simple sentences, as expressions of his populism. This article focuses on his use of non-verbal voice quality. In analyzing the “Trump rallies” and other materials from his successful campaigning before the 2016 United States presidential election, I argue that Trump’s evocative and meaningful uses of pitch, amplitude, speech rate, rhythm, and other vocal measures combine to make his paralanguage exceptionally and counter-normatively informal, and that this informality amplifies his explicitly populist messaging. I conclude by suggesting that Trump’s informal voice solves an important problem for him: It allows him to express his populism with a deeply personal undertone, and thereby potentially to make his claims to popular identification ring intuitively true.

Hejná, Míša, and Adèle Jatteau. 2023. “Aberystwyth English Pre-Aspiration in Apparent Time.” Proceedings of Interspeech 2023, Dublin: 3532–3536. https://doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2023-206.

Abstract: Do younger speakers of Aberystwyth English (Wales) pre-aspirate more than older ones? Previous research reports that they do, but finds a high degree of individual variation. We build on this work by enlarging the database with the inclusion of younger speakers. We confirm that pre-aspiration increases in frequency and duration in apparent time. We further investigate whether duration analyses are affected when zero duration values are excluded, that is, whether pre-aspiration is indeed longer in younger speakers, or whether it applies more frequently. We find that pre-aspiration applies obligatorily for the majority of speakers, so that excluding zero values does not affect the statistical results. Finally, we examine the interaction of pre-aspiration with pre-glottalisation, and show that pre-glottalisation tends to block the application of pre-aspiration, with individual-specific patterns. The interaction between the two is nevertheless not accounted for by age.

Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, Jens, Michaela Hejná, Mathias Clasen, and Mark Eaton. 2023. “Evil Voices in Popular Fictions: The Case of The Exorcist.” The Journal of Popular Culture 56 (2): 226–247. 

Abstract: This article theorizes evil voices in popular fictions by drawing on the theory of conceptual metaphor. We argue that voices can seem expressive of evil if they give the impression of being impure, that is, sickly, infectious, and broken. The reason is that immoral thoughts and behaviors are metaphorically conceptualized as a form of sickness, and this moral sickness finds embodied expression in a sick voice. We then apply this perspective to a case study of The Exorcist, in which we analyze the vocal performance of possessed Regan’s voice actress, Mercedes McCambridge, before ending with some general observations on the moral rhetoric of purity and sickness in fictions.

Collaboration between Aarhus University's Centre of Voice Studies and the Recreational Fear Lab.

​​​​​​Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, Jens, and Michaela Hejná. 2023. “The Voices of Game Worlds: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Disco Elysium.” Games and Culture 18 (5): 578–597. https://doi.org/10.1177/15554120221115396.

Abstract: This article examines how vocal performances of characters can contribute to sociocritical storytelling in video games. We argue that the vocal performances of video game characters–and in particular their accents–can “fill in” the fictional story worlds of video games through associations with real people and places. These associations allow video games to evoke such social themes as are connected with accent, including privilege, conflict, class, and ethnicity. So evoked, these themes can then be critically examined. We apply this perspective in a sociolinguistic analysis of Disco Elysium, an expansive role-playing game in which the characters' vocal performances come to support the player's sociomoral orientation in the game world. Finally, we discuss a result of our analysis that runs counter to previous scholarship, namely that vocal stereotyping can serve to enhance, rather than to undermine, the player's critical apprehension of game worlds.

Hejná, Míša. 2023. “I Can Be Both? (Pre-)Aspiration and (Pre-)Glottalisation Do Not Have to Be Mutually Exclusive.” Proceedings of the 20th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Prague: 1875–1879. https://guarant.cz/icphs2023/215.pdf.

Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between preaspiration and pre-glottalisation, which have traditionally been seen as mutually exclusive when occurring in the same language and/or language family. Acoustic analysis of Welsh English fortis plosives and fricatives produced by 45 speakers reveals that glottalisation is less frequent (17%; n = 545) than pre-aspiration (56%; n =1846). 181 of 3306 tokens show both pre-aspiration and preglottalisation (5%). This co-occurrence takes the following forms: 1. the two happen simultaneously, in various forms of whispery/breathy/lax creak; 2. the two happen successively; 3. a combination of 1. and 2. is found. Where the two happen successively, (whispery/breathy/lax) creak typically precedes local breathiness and/or voiceless pre-aspiration. Option 1 is the most frequent in the data, with variable degrees of aspiration and glottalisation present. Whispery/breathy/lax creak emerge(s) as (a) phonatory setting(s) which can be meaningful for our understanding of subsegmental phonatory phenomena, and not only paralinguistic phenomena.

Esling, John, Allison Benner, Silvia Calamai, Chiara Celata, Lise Crevier Buchman, Míša Hejná, and Scott Moisik. 2023. “The Pedagogy of the Laryngeal Articulator Model.” Proceedings of the 20th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Prague: 1725–1729. https://guarant.cz/icphs2023/185.pdf.

Abstract: The Laryngeal Articulator Model (LAM) approach to the vocal tract in speech production has emerged over the past decades as an alternative to a strictly glottolingual approach. The LAM expands explanatory power by acknowledging: 1. that the larynx is a complex articulator consisting of a network of structures; and 2. that articulations in the lower vocal tract interact with articulations in the oral vocal tract. The LAM approach to speech production is not yet widely implemented in phonetics and phonology teaching materials. The main goal of this paper is to explore the different challenges of laryngeal pedagogy in order to make it easier for scholars in the field to engage with the LAM in pedagogical contexts. To do this we present the authors’ specific experiences using the LAM in different pedagogical situations: teaching voice quality, training research/teaching assistants, writing textbooks, training speech clinicians, and modelling speech production.

Hejná, Míša, and Anna Jespersen. 2022. “Ageing Well: Social but also Biological Reasons for Age-Grading.” Language & Linguistics Compass 16 (5–6): e12450. https://doi.org/10.1111/lnc3.12450.

Abstract: The theory of language change has worked primarily with four basic language change profiles: generational change, age-grading, communal change, and stability. This paper focuses primarily on age-grading, the process whereby each generation undergoes a specific language change at the same age-related stage within their lifespan. Despite the necessary influence of biological change on the ageing body, the explanations put forward to explain why and how age-grading occurs have been primarily social. Previous work also often relies on the study of adolescents. Following the distinction between chronological, social, and biological ageing, this study provides an overview of biological factors which may also provide explanatory power, with a focus on phonetic variation. Considering biological factors can be important in order to avoid interpreting cases of biological age-grading as (solely) social in nature, and as cases of generational change rather than age-grading.

Recent non-refereed and outreach publications


Hejná, Míša. 2023. “Some Loving and Sexy Voices.” Some Islands: A Journal of Linguistics and Art 2. https://someislands.com/Misa-Hejna.