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Finding a Common Voice: Phonetic Phenomena Shared between Queer-Identifying Males in L1 Russian and L1 North-American English

With the exponential rise in online platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, as well as the Russophone equivalents: RuTube and VKontaktie (or ‘In Contact’), more and more queer-identifying males are finding their passions, communities, and their voice. It is through this recent emergence of widely-available recordings of queer-identifying Russian males, that we can now closely analyse the speech of such speakers in a descriptivist manner. In this project, the aim was to see if similarities can be drawn between the phonetic phenomena in L1 Russian and L1 North-American English speakers who self-identify as queer males. This research uses the analysis of pre-recorded interviews (excerpts of casual speech) as data in order to draw comparisons between indexically phonetic phenomena of “gayspeak” found in the speech of queer-identifying men in Russia and North America. In particular, this project focuses on glottalization and high rising terminals (i.e. “upspeak”). Across both phenomena, significant similarities between the varieties of these two languages have been found. This indicates that queer-identifying males across the two different languages bear similarities in their speech. The data of this project alone cannot indicate the explanations for these similarities. However, with access to older speech recordings of queer-identifying Russian males, linguists can begin to speculate whether these similarities are apparent due to internal or external factors - which are, in turn, creating a “common queer voice”.