ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022
ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022

Kamala Harris, Maya Rudolph and the Prosody of Parody

Nicole Holliday

Despite advances in the studies of both ethnolinguistic and prosodic variation, linguists still know relatively little about how individual speakers may use prosody to construct and perform aspects of their identity in dynamic ways. One novel way to study how individuals employ both personal and ethnolinguistic variation is to examine salient linguistic features that occur both in a natural context and in parodies of that same context. The current study analyzes speech from U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and actor Maya Rudolph, who frequently parodies Harris on the American television program Saturday Night Live. Using a comparative analysis of data coded in the Autosegmental Metrical Phonology framework using MAE-ToBI conventions, I show that Rudolph closely mirrors a number of the unique prosodic patterns employed by Harris, but that Rudolph does not simply mimic Harris; rather she exaggerates Harris’ patterns by using even higher F0 peaks and more phrase-initial falsetto phonation. The results of this study expand our knowledge about how specific idiolectal variants connected to social and ethnic styles are enregistered as part of the public discourse. Additionally, it demonstrates the value of examining parodic performance to better understand and contextualize the speech of public figures.


doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-129

Cite as: Holliday, N. (2022) Kamala Harris, Maya Rudolph and the Prosody of Parody. Proc. Speech Prosody 2022, 634-638, doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-129

@inproceedings{holliday22_speechprosody,
  author={Nicole Holliday},
  title={{Kamala Harris, Maya Rudolph and the Prosody of Parody}},
  year=2022,
  booktitle={Proc. Speech Prosody 2022},
  pages={634--638},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-129}
}