On the auditory identifiability of Asian American identity in speech: The role of listener background, sociolinguistic awareness, and language ideologies





racial identification, ethnic identification, ethnolects, race, ethnicity, Boston, Asian Americans, sociophonetics, speech perception, language ideologies


The current study examined the auditory identifiability of Asian American ethnoracial identity, including the role of listener characteristics and ideologies. Results of an identification experiment showed that the overall accuracy of ethnoracial identification on (East and Southeast) Asian talkers was low, but not the lowest among talker groups and not significantly different from accuracy on Black talkers. There were also significant effects of listeners' ethnoracial identity, gender, and linguistic chauvinism (i.e., disfavoring linguistic diversity in the US). In particular, being Asian or a woman was associated with a higher likelihood of accuracy, whereas greater linguistic chauvinism was, to an extent, associated with a lower likelihood of accuracy. Results of a discrimination experiment additionally showed an effect of listeners' awareness of ethnoracially-based language variation: having this awareness was associated with a higher likelihood of accuracy on discrimination trials with one or more Asian talkers. Taken together, these findings converge with previous results showing an effect of the listener's background on ethnoracial perception and further implicate the listener's sociolinguistic awareness and ideologies.

Author Biography

  • Charles B. Chang, Boston University
    Charles B. Chang is Associate Professor of Linguistics at Boston University (BU), where he directs the Phonetics, Acquisition & Multilingualism Lab (PAMLab: sites.bu.edu/pamlab) and holds affiliations with the Center for Innovation in Social Science, Center for the Study of Asia, and Hearing Research Center. Funded in part by a Peter Paul Career Development Professorship, the BU Center for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation, his research examines phonetic and phonological aspects of language learning, bilingualism and multilingualism, and language attrition. Links to publications can be found on his website at cbchang.com.




How to Cite

Chang, Charles B., and Kate Fraser. 2023. “On the Auditory Identifiability of Asian American Identity in Speech: The Role of Listener Background, Sociolinguistic Awareness, and Language Ideologies”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8 (1): 5558. https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v8i1.5558.