Voice Quality and Identity: The Case of Hong Kong Cantonese

Suk Yee Roxana Fung, Chris K.C. Lee

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review


This study is an investigation of the voice quality of Hong Kong Cantonese (HKC) speakers separated by a series of physiological and social factors including gender, age group, education level, and English proficiency. Acoustic analyses were conducted on the speech output of 60 HKC speakers of three age groups to gauge the pitch dynamics, spectral tilt, and periodicity. Results show that the higher-educated senior male speakers speak with a breathier voice than lower-educated peers; whereas higher-educated female speakers speak with a very low (male-like) pitch floor, showing a creaky voice quality. We argue that the male speakers are influenced by RP English, whereas the female by American English. The study does not only develop a normative profile of the voice quality of HKC, but new discovery regarding crosslinguistic influence: a non-dominant language can influence one's dominant language, both at the individual and societal level.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Ohio State University
Place of PublicationColumbus, Ohio
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • voice quality
  • Social identity
  • Hong Kong Cantonese


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