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Publication type: Article in scientific journal
Type of review: Peer review (publication)
Title: Rethinking the frequency code : a meta-analytic review of the role of acoustic body size in communicative phenomena
Authors: Winter, Bodo
Oh, Grace Eunhae
Hübscher, Iris
Idemaru, Kaori
Brown, Lucien
Prieto, Pilar
Grawunder, Sven
et. al: No
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0400
Published in: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
Volume(Issue): 376
Issue: 1840
Page(s): 20200400
Issue Date: 20-Dec-2021
Publisher / Ed. Institution: The Royal Society Publishing
ISSN: 0962-8436
Language: English
Subjects: Intonation; Pitch; Politeness; Prosody; Sound symbolism; Vocal dominance
Subject (DDC): 400: Language, linguistics
Abstract: The widely cited frequency code hypothesis attempts to explain a diverse range of communicative phenomena through the acoustic projection of body size. The set of phenomena includes size sound symbolism (using /i/ to signal smallness in words such as teeny), intonational phonology (using rising contours to signal questions) and the indexing of social relations via vocal modulation, such as lowering one's voice pitch to signal dominance. Among other things, the frequency code is commonly interpreted to suggest that polite speech should be universally signalled via high pitch owing to the association of high pitch with small size and submissiveness. We present a cross-cultural meta-analysis of polite speech of 101 speakers from seven different languages. While we find evidence for cross-cultural variation, voice pitch is on average lower when speakers speak politely, contrary to what the frequency code predicts. We interpret our findings in the light of the fact that pitch has a multiplicity of possible communicative meanings. Cultural and contextual variation determines which specific meanings become manifest in a specific interactional context. We use the evidence from our meta-analysis to propose an updated view of the frequency code hypothesis that is based on the existence of many-to-many mappings between speech acoustics and communicative interpretations. This article is part of the theme issue 'Voice modulation: from origin and mechanism to social impact (Part I)'.
Fulltext version: Published version
License (according to publishing contract): CC BY 4.0: Attribution 4.0 International
Departement: Applied Linguistics
Organisational Unit: Institute of Language Competence (ILC)
Appears in collections:Publikationen Angewandte Linguistik

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