What is it about?

Research shows that people can identify someone’s sexual orientation based on just their voice. However, most of this research focuses on stereotypes about gay men’s speech, such as the “gay lisp”, so we know very little about bisexual people. This study suggests the pronunciation of /s/—the sound associated with the “gay lisp”—may be a key factor in sounding bisexual. The study finds that American English-speaking bisexual women and men pronounce /s/ differently compared to lesbian, gay, and straight people.

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Why is it important?

This article highlights the value that bisexuality brings to language, gender, and sexuality studies. The results of this study disrupt the notion that bisexuality is an amalgam of gayness and straightness and paint a picture of bisexual speech that is much more complex than previously thought.


I hope this article starts or adds to conversations about bisexual inclusion in language and sexuality studies, and inspires scholars to think critically about the ways ideology influences how they do research.

Chloe Willis
University of California Santa Barbara

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Bisexuality in experimental sociophonetics, Journal of Language and Sexuality, January 2024, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/jls.00030.wil.
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