Exploratory study in ethnophonetics: Comparison of cross-cultural perceptions of Japanese cake seller voices among Japanese, Chinese and American English listeners

Donna Erickson, Toshiyuki Sadanobu, Chunyue Zhu, Kerrie Obert, Hayato Daikuhara


This study examines how ethnophonetic sounds are perceived in three different language/cultural groups. Specifically, Japanese, Chinese and American listeners were asked to listen to samples of voices of Japanese cake-selling street voices, and to rate which voice was the “best”. The results indicate Japanese listeners are quite sensitive to what voice is best as a seller of fashionable Western cakes, and that this voice is different from sellers in less fashionable stores. The non-Japanese listeners rated the experienced Japanese cake-street seller voice considerably lower than did the Japanese listeners; moreover, Chinese and American listeners’ differed on which street-seller voice they preferred. Tentative analysis suggests that Chinese listeners preferred a street selling voice with a higher F0, one that sounds like the moe anime voice, while American listeners preferred the voice with a more dynamic range of F0. Japanese listeners, on the other hand, preferred the voice that sounded “more elegant”—one with a touch of twang and some breathiness, a voice quality that is often perceived as being nasal (hana ni kakatta koe). An interesting question to be explored in the future is why the same voice is interpreted differently in different cultures.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-80

Cite as: Erickson, D., Sadanobu, T., Zhu, C., Obert, K., Daikuhara, H. (2018) Exploratory study in ethnophonetics: Comparison of cross-cultural perceptions of Japanese cake seller voices among Japanese, Chinese and American English listeners. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 393-397, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-80.


@inproceedings{Erickson2018,
  author={Donna Erickson and Toshiyuki Sadanobu and Chunyue Zhu and Kerrie Obert and Hayato Daikuhara},
  title={Exploratory study in ethnophonetics: Comparison of cross-cultural perceptions of Japanese cake seller voices among Japanese, Chinese and American English listeners},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={393--397},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-80},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-80}
}