Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gillibrand gets a vocal critique

Every day in January brings news coverage of speeches, as elected leaders give their "state of the..." pronouncements and special elections require stump speeches. But it's rare that I see a male politician's voice get the going-over that New York Senator Kirsten Gillbrand just got in the New York Observer. And since we're talking about vocal image this week on The Eloquent Woman, it's good to get a look at how Gillibrand's voice shapes her image in this article.

The reporter used male experts in linguistics and politics, plus observations from one female reporter, to critique Gillibrand's vocal skills. The first, a sociolinguistics scholar at the University of Cambridge, noted:
...her voice quality is of the sort that is typically associated with pre-workforce-age white American females. Judging by the case of this woman, this speech pattern has now extended into higher age ranges...rising intonation pattern at the end of declarative clauses that lay people tend to associate with teenage girls.
The reporter's take? "Translation: She sounds more like the cheerleader than the class president."

If you've wondered whether it's true that your vocal image matters, here's some belittling proof that it does--when it's working against you. Check out Kate Peters' guest posts on understanding, identifying and working on your vocal image at the links below. (Photo by WDPGshare on Flickr)

Related posts: What's your vocal image? (part 1 of the series)

3 steps to find your vocal image (part 2 of the series)

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