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Listener Participants

This portion of the study included twenty-three participants (five male, eighteen female; henceforth “listeners”). All were native speakers of Spanish who had grown up in Puerto Rico and were undergraduate or master’s-level students at a large public university in the San Juan metro area. Their mean age was twenty-two years. All listeners completed a demographic questionnaire that included questions about their age, region of origin within Puerto Rico, level of education, and linguistic background. All reported at least basic knowledge of English; six spoke an additional language (other than Spanish or English); and six spoke more than one additional language.


In the task, listeners listened to audio stimuli and reported evaluations of speaker age, height, social class, and sexual orientation. Each of the twenty speakers’ recordings was presented four times, each time with a question addressing speaker age, height, social class, or sexual orientation, resulting in eighty trials total.

In each trial, listeners heard the six article-noun combinations produced by the same speaker. The phrases appeared onscreen as the recordings played. After they heard the six phrases, we presented listeners with a question addressing one of the four perceived speaker characteristics (age, height, social class, or sexual orientation). For age, listeners provided direct magnitude estimates of age in years. For height, social class, and perceived sexual orientation, we presented listeners with a 5-point scale and they entered the whole number (1 through 5) that corresponded to their evaluation. We developed each scale in conjunction with trained linguists from the study community. For perceived height, “1” corresponded to much taller than average and “5” corresponded to much shorter than average; for perceived social class, “1” equaled higher social class and “5” equaled lower social class. In the scale for perceived sexual orientation “1” corresponded to gay, “2” corresponded to very gay, “3” corresponded to more or less gay, “4” corresponded to straight/heterosexual, and “5” corresponded to neither gay nor straight/heterosexual. This scale was selected as the most appropriate for local norms, and after the data were gathered the scale was normalized to be comparable with the height and social class scales. The presentation order of speakers and questions was randomized (i.e., the experiment was not blocked by question).

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