Loose Lips and Silver Tongues, or, Projecting Sexual Orientation Through Speech

Benjamin Munson, Molly Babel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The notion that an individual’s sexual orientation can be ascertained through distinctive speech patterns abounds in popular culture. This article reviews the small but growing body of literature examining whether sexual orientation is conveyed and perceived through speech. These studies show some individuals speak in a way that conveys their sexual orientation to naïve listeners. Contrary to many popular-culture stereotypes, the phonetic parameters that convey gay, lesbian, or bisexual identities are not whole-sale approximation of opposite sex norms, nor does the perception of sexual orientation through speech appear to involve the simple perception of the sex typicality of a talker’s voice. In addition to reviewing these studies, this article discusses their implications for research on language acquisition, language processing, and sociolinguistics.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-449
Number of pages34
JournalLanguage and Linguistics Compass
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2007


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