Loudness Trumps Pitch in Politeness Judgments:

Evidence from Korean Deferential Speech

Kaori Idemaru, Bodo Winter, Lucien Brown, Grace Eunhae Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Social meaning is not conveyed through words alone, but also through how words are produced phonetically. This paper investigates the role of loudness and pitch in determining the perception of politeness-related judgments in Korean. It has been proposed that high pitch is universally associated with polite or deferential social meanings. In contrast to this, Experiment 1 examined the perceptual effect of pitch and found no effect. Experiment 2 tested the effect of loudness, and found that listeners associate quieter speech with deference. Finally, Experiment 3 investigated the simultaneous effects of loudness and pitch, and found again that loudness had a consistent effect, whereas pitch only had a weak effect. Analyses of individual differences suggest that in contrast to loudness, which is interpreted uniformly across Korean listeners, pitch has more variegated social meanings: Some listeners associate high pitch with deferential meaning, others associate low pitch with deferential meaning. Thus, we find loudness to be a more unambiguous indicator of deferential speech than pitch. These findings shed light on how different acoustic properties contribute to the indexing of social stances, and they suggest that the role of pitch in conveying politeness may have been overstated in past research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage and Speech
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

Keywords

  • Sociophonetics
  • stance
  • politeness
  • perception
  • Korean

Cite this

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title = "Loudness Trumps Pitch in Politeness Judgments:: Evidence from Korean Deferential Speech",
abstract = "Social meaning is not conveyed through words alone, but also through how words are produced phonetically. This paper investigates the role of loudness and pitch in determining the perception of politeness-related judgments in Korean. It has been proposed that high pitch is universally associated with polite or deferential social meanings. In contrast to this, Experiment 1 examined the perceptual effect of pitch and found no effect. Experiment 2 tested the effect of loudness, and found that listeners associate quieter speech with deference. Finally, Experiment 3 investigated the simultaneous effects of loudness and pitch, and found again that loudness had a consistent effect, whereas pitch only had a weak effect. Analyses of individual differences suggest that in contrast to loudness, which is interpreted uniformly across Korean listeners, pitch has more variegated social meanings: Some listeners associate high pitch with deferential meaning, others associate low pitch with deferential meaning. Thus, we find loudness to be a more unambiguous indicator of deferential speech than pitch. These findings shed light on how different acoustic properties contribute to the indexing of social stances, and they suggest that the role of pitch in conveying politeness may have been overstated in past research.",
keywords = "Sociophonetics, stance, politeness, perception, Korean",
author = "Kaori Idemaru and Bodo Winter and Lucien Brown and Oh, {Grace Eunhae}",
year = "2019",
doi = "10.1177/0023830918824344",
language = "English",
journal = "Language and Speech",
issn = "0023-8309",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",

}

Loudness Trumps Pitch in Politeness Judgments: Evidence from Korean Deferential Speech. / Idemaru, Kaori; Winter, Bodo; Brown, Lucien; Oh, Grace Eunhae.

In: Language and Speech, 2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Loudness Trumps Pitch in Politeness Judgments:

T2 - Evidence from Korean Deferential Speech

AU - Idemaru, Kaori

AU - Winter, Bodo

AU - Brown, Lucien

AU - Oh, Grace Eunhae

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Social meaning is not conveyed through words alone, but also through how words are produced phonetically. This paper investigates the role of loudness and pitch in determining the perception of politeness-related judgments in Korean. It has been proposed that high pitch is universally associated with polite or deferential social meanings. In contrast to this, Experiment 1 examined the perceptual effect of pitch and found no effect. Experiment 2 tested the effect of loudness, and found that listeners associate quieter speech with deference. Finally, Experiment 3 investigated the simultaneous effects of loudness and pitch, and found again that loudness had a consistent effect, whereas pitch only had a weak effect. Analyses of individual differences suggest that in contrast to loudness, which is interpreted uniformly across Korean listeners, pitch has more variegated social meanings: Some listeners associate high pitch with deferential meaning, others associate low pitch with deferential meaning. Thus, we find loudness to be a more unambiguous indicator of deferential speech than pitch. These findings shed light on how different acoustic properties contribute to the indexing of social stances, and they suggest that the role of pitch in conveying politeness may have been overstated in past research.

AB - Social meaning is not conveyed through words alone, but also through how words are produced phonetically. This paper investigates the role of loudness and pitch in determining the perception of politeness-related judgments in Korean. It has been proposed that high pitch is universally associated with polite or deferential social meanings. In contrast to this, Experiment 1 examined the perceptual effect of pitch and found no effect. Experiment 2 tested the effect of loudness, and found that listeners associate quieter speech with deference. Finally, Experiment 3 investigated the simultaneous effects of loudness and pitch, and found again that loudness had a consistent effect, whereas pitch only had a weak effect. Analyses of individual differences suggest that in contrast to loudness, which is interpreted uniformly across Korean listeners, pitch has more variegated social meanings: Some listeners associate high pitch with deferential meaning, others associate low pitch with deferential meaning. Thus, we find loudness to be a more unambiguous indicator of deferential speech than pitch. These findings shed light on how different acoustic properties contribute to the indexing of social stances, and they suggest that the role of pitch in conveying politeness may have been overstated in past research.

KW - Sociophonetics

KW - stance

KW - politeness

KW - perception

KW - Korean

U2 - 10.1177/0023830918824344

DO - 10.1177/0023830918824344

M3 - Article

JO - Language and Speech

JF - Language and Speech

SN - 0023-8309

ER -