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Brandon Merritt

 
415
Campbell Building
El Paso Texas, 79968
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Brandon Merritt
Assistant Professor, Speech-Language Pathology

Dr. Merritt's research investigates 1) the acoustic-phonetic variability that differentiates speakers of varying gender identities (e.g., agender, non-binary, transgender men, and transgender women) and 2) the perceptual consequences of this variability. As listeners, we encounter a lot of variability in the speech signal. Much of this variability between speakers arises because of characteristics of the speaker (e.g., age, gender, or dialect). Perceived gender is one of the primary ways that listeners organize speech. Speaker gender helps us roughly categorize speakers and then make predictions about how they will speak. Gender diversity, as an evolving social category, provides an opportunity to examine how indexical meaning of speech variability is learned, interpreted, and represented in the minds of listeners. Recent work has used auditory free classification to examine listeners’ perceptual organization of speakers of varying gender identities. Results suggest that the perceptual representation of speaker gender is multidimensional and gradient, and that listeners use a composite of speech features (e.g., fundamental frequency, formant frequencies, and articulatory cues) in evaluating speaker gender. Planned future studies will examine the extent to which speech differs across speakers of varying gender identities between American English and Mexican Spanish, and how Spanish listeners perceptually represent speaker gender.

KEYWORDS

  1. Gender
  2. Transgender
  3. Psycholinguistics
  4. Speech perception
  5. Speech acoustics
  6. Phonetics