Pulling Out All the Stops: Referee Design and Phonetic Correlates of Gay Men’s English
Studies of intraspeaker variation and the linguistic indexing of sexual identity have formed an important part of recent research in variationist sociolinguistics. This study investigates patterns of word-final stop release in the speech of a flamboyantly gay television host, Graham Norton. The results indicate a significant correlation between the rate of released word-final stops and the sexual orientation of an absent referee, as defined by Bell (1984, 2001), with a higher proportion of released stops for gay-identified referees. We argue that this pattern demonstrates the linguistic indexing of an ingroup identity, which Norton shares with referees who identify as gay. In this way, the variable of word-final stop release can be considered a ‘building block’ (Barrett 2002:33) in the construction of Norton's sexual identity.
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