The Missionary Voice: Perceptions of an emerging register




register, enregisterment, religiolect, Latter-day Saints, indexicality


In this paper, we report on what we are calling “Missionary Voice,” or a particular way of speaking characteristic to missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first study elicits perceptions of Missionary Voice by Latter-day Saints in the Intermountain West without reference to any particular recording or person. We find a complex, multifaceted indexical field as well as potential linguistic features, uses for Missionary Voice, and speculative origins. In the second study, we play audio clips and ask listeners to identify the missionaries among them. While people did no better than chance, we zero in on certain speakers and compile a tentative list of acoustic correlates of Missionary Voice. As this is the first study on the language of Latter-day Saint missionaries, we open more questions than we answer, but we hope to show that Missionary Voice is very much a part of Latter-day Saint culture.

Author Biographies

  • Joseph A. Stanley, Brigham Young University

    Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics

  • Wendy Baker-Smemoe, Brigham Young University

    Professor, Linguistics Department




How to Cite

Stanley, Joseph A., Josh Stevenson, and Wendy Baker-Smemoe. 2024. “The Missionary Voice: Perceptions of an Emerging Register”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 9 (1): 5701.