Children's Sociostylistic Creaky Voice
Bellavance, Sarah Rose
Sociolinguistic variation in children is well-documented (e.g., Fischer, 1958; Roberts, 1997; Nardy et al., 2014). However, this work has largely centered on segmental variables alone. Creaky voice, a nonsegmental variable, has been widely attested in adult speech, particularly as it relates to gendered indexicality and perception in English (e.g., Henton & Bladon, 1988; Yuasa, 2010; Podesva, 2013). This attestation does not extend to its usage in child speech. The present study establishes a foundation for the discursive properties that young speakers command using creak, therefore providing a novel understanding of socially conditioned creaky voice. Data were collected remotely by way of interview-like conversations between child and parent pairs, as well as a narration of a comic strip. I identified creak audio-visually (Yuasa, 2010; Benoise-Lucy & Pillot-Loiseau, 2013) and quantified it syllabically (Henton & Bladon, 1988; Melvin & Clopper, 2015). I identified creak functions qualitatively, largely using discourse analysis methods. Participants used creak to signal four functions: (1) location in an intonation unit (Chafe, 1994; Mendoza-Denton & Jannedy, 2000), (2) location in a turn (Ogden, 2001; Grivicic & Nilep, 2004), (3) a parenthetical phrase (Lee, 2015), and (4) stancetaking (Gobl & Ní Chasaide, 2003; Lefkowitz & Sicoli, 2007). Given the layered nature of these creak functions demonstrated by participants, I argue that sociostylistic creaky voice is hierarchically structured. This could have one or both of the following implications: 1) the usage of creaky voice necessarily follows a prosodic—discursive—stance order; 2) the acquisition of creaky voice follows a prosodic—discursive—stance order. This has implications for both sociolinguistic discussions of creaky voice, as well as our knowledge of voice disorder assessment. I call for a less a priori gender-based approach to sociostylistic creak, as well as an integrated model of creaky voice between the two disciplines of sociolinguistics and speech language pathology.
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