I’ve been wondering about this for a while now. Whenever you hear a black speak, nine times out of ten, you can tell whether or not it’s a black who is speaking. The differences come down to testosterone and morphological differences in vocal cords.
This study compared vocal tracts in 140 white, black and Asian speakers who were divided amongst the three races. The researchers controlled for age, gender, height and weight. They measured six dimensions in vocal tracts with acoustic reflection technology. They discovered that significant gender and racial differences exist in certain vocal tract dimensions. These findings will help researchers with a new anatomical database of those from different races and how their voice tracts differ for more study into it.
In this study, they measured volumetric differences in males from different races. They investigated vocal tracts, such as length differences in them, to see which would contribute to racial differences in acoustic characteristics. The findings help to support the hypothesis that those from different races may possibly have morphological differences when it comes to vocal tract dimensions. Those same dimensions could also be responsible for differences in vowel sound of specific dialect/speech.
People use everything from their throats to noses when they speak, and since there are morphological differences there, one would reason that there would be differences in the voices between races, on average. Basically, those with different facial features should have different voices. Since the races have different facial features, as well as morphological differences in vocal tracts and larynx and everything in between, then there are obvious differences in voices.
Taking 50 blacks and 50 whites and having them say an ‘a’ sound which was then recorded. The researchers paired one black subject with one white subject and the individuals in the study were able to guess the correct race 60 percent of the time. The researchers then gave an acoustic analysis of the voices. What was then discovered was that all though the voices for the black subjects was within normal ranges, the black subjects had “greater frequency perturbation, significantly greater amplitude perturbation, and a significantly lower harmonics-to-noise ratio than did the white speakers.” The listeners were most successful in distinguishing voice pairs when the differences in vocal perturbation and additive noise were greatest (obviously) and least successful when those differences were minimal or absent (again, obviously). Since there was no fundamental difference in the mean fundamental frequency and format structure of the samples, it’s extremely likely that the listeners relied on spectral noise to differentiate black and white speakers.
Even blind people “see” race!! Yet more proof that the races differ in speech as well as have morphological differences between them.
I’ve always noticed that, on average, you can tell a black from a white and a white from an Asian. Testosterone also plays a part. In Rushton’s debate with Joseph Graves, he says that testosterone differences are the cause for racial differences in voice. Testosterone mediates a lot of things in the human body. Testosterone levels also mediate the deepness of an individual’s voice. Those with more testosterone have a deeper voice, and those with less testosterone have a higher voice. East Asians have the least testosterone out of the three races, and they have the highest-pitched voices. Conversely, blacks have the highest testosterone and have the deepest voices, as well as the most distinct voices between the races. Whites, as usual, fall in the middle.
Black males have a smaller overall size gradient, Asians the biggest, and of course, whites fall in the middle. The sound of voices doesn’t just vary between races, but by gender within races as well.
Can we “hear” race? The answer is yes!! Whether it’s morphological differences in the voice tract or larynx or testosterone differences between races, we definitely can discern someone’s race on average when speaking to them.