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Finding Your Voice: How The Way We Sound Shapes Our Identities

Our voices convey so much more than just information. They can tell other people something essential about who we are.
Our voices convey so much more than just information. They can tell other people something essential about who we are.

At some point in our lives, many of us realize that the way we hear our own voice isn't the way others hear us. And we begin to realize that our voices communicate so much more than mere information: they reveal our feelings, our temperament, our identity.

"Voice is about who you are," says Rupal Patel, a speech scientist at Northeastern University. "Our voice signals how old we are. Our voice signals our gender. Our voice signals, you know, things about our personality."

This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the relationship between our voices and our identities. We'll hear how advances in technology might help people with vocal impairments. And we consider the ethical quandaries that arise when we can create personalized, customized voices.

Additional resources:

1) Communication Analysis And Design Laboratory at Northeastern University

2) "Review of text-to-speech conversion for English," by Dennis H. Klatt in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 1987

3) Google CEO Sundar Pichai's Keynote Address at the Google I/O Conference in 2018

Hidden Brain is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced by Jennifer Schmidt, Parth Shah, Rhaina Cohen, Laura Kwerel and Thomas Lu. Our supervising producer is Tara Boyle. You can also follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, and listen for Hidden Brain stories each week on your local public radio station.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.