Menos masculino, demasiado infantil
How age and gender ideologies index sexuality in diminutive perception in Madrid Spanish
Age is an under-analyzed variable in linguistic research concerning gender and sexuality. We consider these three constructs by examining diminutives as an index of gay sexuality in Madrid Spanish across two tasks. Although phonetic cues have received great attention, morphological features (e.g. diminutives) may also index gayness (Mendes 2014). Moreover, despite frequent usage across Spanish-speaking varieties, diminutives are primarily restricted to women and children in north-central Spain (Haensch 2002). In a diminutive reaction task, 53 Madrid residents indicated whether men, women, adults, or children were likely to have uttered diminutivized sentences. Mixed-effects models indicated that the number of diminutives and sentence theme significantly affected perception, and participants’ evaluations in a free response task corroborated that men using diminutives were considered effeminate, gay, and childish. Thus, even with sociophonetic cues removed, morphological phenomena create a gay percept. This study demonstrates how age ideologies inform indexicalization processes related to gender and sexuality.
Keywords: diminutives, sexuality, gender, age, masculinity, indexicality, Madrid Spanish
Published online: 07 September 2020
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