An Ice Hockey-Based Linguistic Persona : Like a Lot of Hockey Players Say [ˈhɑ̞ki]


In this paper, I argue that American-born ice hockey players produce tokens of hockey with a vowel distinct from the Low Back vowels BOT and BOUGHT. This paper argues that players do not adhere to the expected categorization but rather have established a novel third vowel produced lower in the vowel space than either BOT or BOUGHT. This vowel, reserved only for hockey tokens, henceforth HOCKEY, functions as an emerging third-order index (Silverstein, 2003) of players’ speech and therefore is indicative of a hockey-based linguistic persona easily identifiable to others in the community. Data from 20 sociolinguistic interviews with players from the American Hockey League and ECHL are included in this analysis. Interviews were transcribed, aligned with corresponding WAV files, and then uploaded to the Dartmouth Linguistic Automation (Reddy and Stanford, 2015) for forced alignment and extraction of acoustic vowel data. Formant values, sound wave frequencies heightened by the positioning of the tongue, were measured at five percentages of duration. Data was Lobanov-normalized following the Nearey (1977) formula. Mean formant values for each player were calculated and MANOVA tests were used to establish Pillai scores measuring the degree of overlap between HOCKEY-BOT and BOT-BOUGHT. Lower Pillai scores were indicative of more merged vowels. The results demonstrated that these players produced a HOCKEY vowel either entirely distinct from, or minimally merged with BOT. I argue this HOCKEY vowel functions as an emerging third-order index of an American hockey-based persona due to its uniformity and multiple players’ metalinguistic knowledge of this variation.


Andrew Bray
Instructor, Linguistics, University of Georgia, Georgia, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—The Impact of Professional Sport on Community


Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Sociophonetics, Hockey, Persona

Digital Media


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