The Roots of Speech

by Monday, November 2, 2015

Lately there has been a flurry of articles about Australian speech and how it sounds slurry because it was born of drunken founding fathers. I’m not sure if there is any evidence of excessive imbibing (more than say, Russia or Ireland) during the founding of Australia in 1788, but it does remind us that our speech is a direct product of the people and the landscape of our ancestors. If you listen to the way a Kansan speaks, it sounds like the miles and miles of flat farmland, and in some areas of Pennsylvania, like Scranton, the Irish who settled there made an indelible mark in the way people from those areas sound.

If you’re wondering how to change the way you speak, whether you want to lose your accent or try one on for a role, it’s more than just a few vowel or consonant sound changes. It’s about understanding how you speak naturally and then creating another version of yourself who speaks another way. Why is it difficult for an Isreali to assume an upper-class British sound, and easy for Australians to transform into a resident of the deep south? It has to do with what is similar and what is different within each culture and landscape. If you want to change your speech, you’ve got to change your mind.

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