See Your Speech

Vowel variation

Some of the speech differences between men and women are specific to a given place or group. In some places, vowel pronunciation is changing over time, so that younger people are speaking differently than older people. Often but not always, women do a little more of the new change than men their age. So people in these places might do more or less of that specific change to sound feminine or masculine.

Here is a vowel plot of your voice in the three guises (versions). A vowel plot is a way of representing how you pronounce your vowels, which is one way that many accents differ from each other.

Did you change any of your pronunciations? Some things to look for:

  • In some places, like Cleveland and Chicago, the vowel in TRAP is getter higher or fronter (left), while in others, like California, it's going the other way (lower and rightward). In each place, moving more in the direction of the change might be a way of sounding feminine, since women are doing a little more of it than men.
  • The vowel in GOOSE is moving forward (left) in many places, so doing more of that might be another way to sound feminine. You can learn more about vowel plots and regional accents here.