Gender Identification from Whispered Mandarin

Li Jiao, Yi Xu, Qiuwu Ma, Marjoleine Sloos

Previous studies have found that speaker sex can be identified in whispered English and Swedish. It is unknown whether listeners can also identify speaker gender from whispered Mandarin. We asked forty Mandarin listeners to judge the sex of six Mandarin speakers from phonated and whispered monosyllabic words. Results revealed a main effect of phonation, with a lower performance in whispers than in normal utterances. But the identification rate was still well above chance for whispers. There was no main effect of speaker gender, but from normal to whispered speech, female identification rates dropped whereas malesÂ’ increased. It appears that in phonated speech, some male speakersÂ’ pitch may extend into the female range, but when pitch was naturally absent in whispers, the remaining spectral cues for female voice have greater overlap with those of males. Thus it is somewhat paradoxical that, though a whispering quality may make a female voice more feminine, true whispers may make it more male-like. In conclusion, spectral cues are still left in whispered Mandarin for gender identification despite the lack of F0. But these cues are not as effective as F0, and more female voice was heard as male-like than the other way around.

Cite as

Jiao, L., Xu, Y., Ma, Q., Sloos, M. (2016) Gender Identification from Whispered Mandarin. Proc. Speech Prosody 2016, (abstract).

author={Li Jiao and Yi Xu and Qiuwu Ma and Marjoleine Sloos},
title={Gender Identification from Whispered Mandarin},
booktitle={Speech Prosody 2016}