Sexually dimorphic accents

Trimac20   Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:54 pm GMT
I think Australian has got to be the most sexually dimorphic accent in the English world. By that I mean males and females have noticeably different accents. This is particularly the case in the cities, where men tend to have a general to broad sounding accent, and women a cultivated to general accent. In the country most people maintain a broader accent.

Anyway, I read it is related to cultural capital, and how women want to be perceived as more prestigious, and men care more about fitting in and local identity. A good example is the way Aussies pronounce 'i' as 'oi': I hear few women say it that way, while at least 50% of men over all age groups might. I was actually quite shocked at how diluted the dialect/accent of youngsters has become: they say 'a' not even in the broad stereotypical way, but like an American or RP! Like 'ae' instead of the 'ai' sound.

I'm wondering which English accents show more contrast between genders than others. I don't really see it in the US much: maybe a bit in Southern, but many women have Southern accents as strong as their menfolk. I just don't understand why it seems to only occur in Australia. Everywhere else men and women seem to have almost the same accent.
a   Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:06 pm GMT
California and Canadian vowel shifts women tend to have the most extreme forms, whereas men tend to have the more conservative accent--therefore they sound more like other Westerners.

The Northern cities vowel shift is the same way.
Trimac20   Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:09 pm GMT
^ Are you sure about that? If so that would be interesting, since in most cases men tend to have the stronger accent, if anything. But like I say, it's only really in Australia where I've noticed this.
a   Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:27 pm GMT
Actually women tend to use more standard words than men, but at least in North American English they tend to have the strongest accents. Males tend to keep using the forms of their mothers, which are often outdated by about 20 years. Women tend to adapt to the newer forms that they learn as teenagers (and pass those forms unto their children.)
Caspian   Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:52 pm GMT
It would be interesting to analyse the Cockney accent, which is where the Australian accent originates from, to see if such a drastic difference is apparent here too.
waraz   Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:48 pm GMT
<<Actually women tend to use more standard words than men, but at least in North American English they tend to have the strongest accents>>


Really? It seems to me that women are always using ridiculous made up cringe worthy words. Men use only standard words because they lack the vocabulary or imagination to use anything else.
Trimac20   Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:13 am GMT
Doesn't seem to be the case in cockney...only among younger and a less extent all Middle Class Australians.

I think if I hear another girl say 'noi' I'll move out of this country! haha
Travis   Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:51 am GMT
At least here in southeastern Wisconsin, the primary sort of such speech differences that clearly shows up is that women are far more likely to pronounce historical /ɔː/ as [ɑ(ː)] than men, who typically preserve the more conservative realization of such as [ɒ(ː)]. This does not seem to apply to the whole of the NCVS, though, as the tendency to shift historical // towards [ɛ(ː)] or, for some when stressed, [ĭ̯̆]~[i̯] does not seem to be sexually dimorphic at all here.
Travis   Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:58 am GMT
About men copying their mothers' speech, though, that pattern does not seem to hold here. If anything, at least amongst younger people, women seem more likely to have more careful, conservative, and standard speech than men, who seem to more readily take on and retain more progressive dialectal forms; the realization of historical /ɔː/ seems to be practically the sole exception to this here. If anything, younger women seem to be more influenced by more nationally prestigious forms than younger men here, who seem more accepting of using basically pure dialect as the language of everyday life without any concern for what happens to be prestigious on a national rather than local level.
Travis   Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:05 am GMT
(To illustrate, amongst at least younger middle-class people, it seems common for women to take on forms that would be perceived as more "professional" and whatnot, whereas men seem far more common to basically speak the exact same way at work as at home, and to not to be self-conscious about using highly dialectal forms in professional contexts.)
Damian in London   Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:33 am GMT
No way am I any great fan of any American accent - very few British people are to tell you the candid truth - it's also true to say that many American accents do have a "cringe" effect on many Brits, and if you have to break them up on gender lines then the most cringeworthy are those of many American women.

The younger ones especially verge on the excruciating - they can either sound drawlingly shrill, swallowing half their words in the process and rhoticising to the extreme, or they descend into some kind of weird huskiness towards the end of whatever it is they're babbling on about. Maybe they think it's sexy or something...maybe it is to American guys, who knows, in which case it's fine I reckon.

As for the older version - many of them are either ear splittingly shrill and high pitched, still mega rhotic, or else quite low pitched and croakily husky.

I don't think the general American accent suits the female of the species all that well - except maybe that of the Deep South - now that may well be a different kettle of fish altogether. Southern Belles can sound really cool, almost appealing - so long as it isn't too "sugary sweet and baby doll like".

Since this thread is gender based - I think the American accent suits men best for the most part but even there I don't think I could live with all around me, day in day out, on a regular basis, for evermore and a day. I'm sure then I'd have days when I'd give my hind teeth for the first opportunity to head for the airport and catch the next plane back to Blighty....and Scotand! ;-)
Uriel   Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:20 pm GMT
No idea what you all are talking about. American women sound just like American men.
no one cares !   Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:27 pm GMT
Damian, no one cares if you have some childish dislike of the American accent. Seriously, get the fuck over it! We've heard it before and it wasn't funny then and it isn't funny now. Oh no! American accents don't suit American females! Oh dear me! What shall we do?! I guess it's time to introduce British accents in school! That will fix it! Can't make Damian cringe now can we!
Damian in SW15   Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:52 pm GMT
***Can't make Damian cringe now can we!***

Go on - give it a go and try!

Have a pint on me! Pub's open for another hour or so yet! ;-)
LL   Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:27 am GMT
Is Damian in London the same as Damian in Scotland?