Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kira Hall

Second Advisor

Rebecca Scarborough

Third Advisor

David Rood


In this paper I discuss the results of a study on stylization and stylistic productions of "gay speech." The paper has three interrelated goals: one experimental, one methodological and one theoretical. The experimental goal was to determine if and to what extent exaggeration prevails in stylistic performances of "gay speech." Additionally, the methodological goal was to help establish experimental methodologies as useful for sociocultural linguistic analyses. Finally, the theoretical goal was to add to the robustness of sociocultural linguistic theory by providing evidence from experimental and quantitative analyses that support previous theoretical claims. Analysis of /s/ frequency at peak amplitude from 9 speakers performing both base recordings and stylized recordings indicated that exaggeration is likely relevant with respect to this feature and it's role in the production of stylized "gay speech." These findings also suggest that the experimental methodologies are effective in eliciting data for fruitful sociocultural linguistic analysis. Importantly, the data presented in this essay reflect patterns emergent in sociocultural linguistic analysis of identity, namely theories of adequation and distinction (Bucholtz & Hall 2005) and neo-minstrelsy (Bucholtz & Lopez 2012) and thereby suggest that experimental techniques such as the ones presented can be beneficial to the solidification of these linguistic theories. By combining qualitatively oriented and quantitatively oriented methodologies, this essay provides new directions for the analysis of the role of language variation in the production of local meaning while offering new insight to the way researchers might consider this relationship.