Nastassja Riemermann (tsukikage85) wrote in linguaphiles,
Nastassja Riemermann
tsukikage85
linguaphiles

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voice pitch and register

The other day I was at a home improvement store with my boyfriend, and it came up that when I started talking with an employee asking about what options there were for custom sizing of an item my voice got excessively (?) high-pitched, which he felt was annoying and carried a sense of condescension, like I was talking to a pet or young child. This reminded me of once when I was working at a drug store and, in the middle of a conversation with a customer, I had to communicate with a co-worker of mine. The customer amusedly pointed out that I spoke with a much higher pitch with customers than I did with my co-workers, and we had a mini-discussion about this for the rest of our transaction.

Now, I certainly don't mean the high-pitched voice to be condescending or belittling - in fact I feel like it's me being more polite. A part of me wonders if this has to do with my gender - are females conditioned to use a higher, more "feminine" pitch when speaking with people of higher statuses, or when it's felt that a request is more taxing than simply passing the salt? Is this actually true of men as well? I also noticed that I have a really hard time NOT doing this with customers, and when I succeed I feel... stern. This lead me to notice that when I smile while talking, my voice seems to "naturally" raise in pitch, which may or may not be related to the phenomenon. Discuss.
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