Do you know anyone IRL who speaks in an unnatural, performative voice or accent?
Thinking about MJ and Hilaria and wondering why people speak in voices or accents that are not authentic. I’m fascinated by people who use baby voice (I’ve heard both men and women do this), seductive voices, whispery voices, deeper voices, accents, etc.
Has there been much research on the subject? Do we know why people do this? Have you known people who alter their speaking voice (we all do to some degree in different settings) in an exaggerated way? Are there other celebrities who are known for this?
|February 12, 2023 5:42 PM
I have a dear friend who moved from California to London and IMMEDIATELY acquired a kind of trans-atlantic / neither-here-nor-there mixed british-american accent. She uses words like "loo," "biscuits," and "lift;" and does that British version of upspeak: "Oh I just got out of the Ty-ube now!"
Again, this was after just a month or so, not decades. She loves her new life there though so I actually find it kind of cute.
My boss is a 45 year old woman - very smart, very serious. But when we're not talking about work related matters, she exclusively uses a sexy-baby voice. I don't think she knows she's doing it. Blech.
|January 22, 2023 7:10 AM
Those gay men in the gay ghetto who speak in that high-pitched affect. That must be exhausting to speak like that constantly.
|January 22, 2023 7:16 AM
[quote]Do you know anyone IRL who speaks in an unnatural, performative voice or accent?
Yes, flamboyant gay men.
|January 22, 2023 7:26 AM
I knew a closeted guy who spoke normally and then he came out and acquired insta-gayvoice.
|January 22, 2023 7:31 AM
There's a certain poetry slam cadence that is really offputting. When I was in college in '90s my gay studies professor invited Pat Califia to come speak to the class. She read some of her work and used that insanely weird spoken word cadence that was in vogue for quite a while. And this wasn't an auditorium full of students, it was a tiny class and there were about a dozen of us.
I remember sitting there thinking: why is this pretentious writer using that fake voice? There were dramatic pauses, certain words were drawn out, and it was all intended to enhance the story but it just came across as overly theatrical. And it ended up actually detracting from the story because her cadence was so performative and weird.
And here's one on youtube. What's interesting about this interview isn't the interviewee. It's the reaction in the comments. The audience is universally put off by this transwoman dominatrix. This comment sums up how the audience feels about this person:
It feels like she's practiced this like a thousand times in a mirror in the hopes that she would have an opportunity to "shine on the stage" of life at some point. She makes it sound really nice, until you actually listen to what she's saying. The entire interview was practiced and rehearsed, and all of the questions were nothing more than interruptions of her little speech. Each time Ariel was literally interrupting her just to ask a question. She is playing a woman. This is her interpretation of what a woman is like and she's pretending to be that. It's so over dramatized, if you told me she was joking, I'd believe it wholeheartedly! This person is not happy, this person is not self confident, this person isn't comfortable in "her" body, she's just been pretending so long she believes herself.
|January 22, 2023 7:53 AM
This is a gay-voice thread, isn't it?
Does OP think we don't discuss/mock/celebrate gay-voice around here?
|January 22, 2023 7:53 AM
[quote] There were dramatic pauses, certain words were drawn out, and it was all intended to enhance the story but it just came across as overly theatrical. And it ended up actually detracting from the story because her cadence was so performative and weird.
It seems as if she was using Phylicia Rashad craft voice.
|January 22, 2023 8:03 AM
I like James Earl in the background with a look like Are you hearing this shit?
|January 22, 2023 8:18 AM
Each year our local Nutcracker production began with some woman reading an introduction out of an over-sized children's storybook prop. Her affected, breathy speech was hilarious and awkward at the same time, even though she thought she was being quite serious and artistic. She looked right at me during it once and I'm sure she saw the look on my face which registered as "what the fuck is this?"
|January 22, 2023 8:29 AM
[quote] that video is so worth it just for how befuddled James Earl Jones looks during her ridiculously pretentious speech.
From the first thread about that pretentious speech:
[quote] Poor James Earl Jones -- sitting there watching Phylicia pontificate,looking like he's about to drool.
[quote] I can't tell if James Earl Jones is stunned or amused by her behavior.
[quote] You know James Earl Jones was like "BITCH?! WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
[quote] there is something so satisfyingly silly about that clip of her prattling on and saying such empty pieties with James Earl Jones looking so dazed and out of it in the background.
[quote] James Earl Jones is on autopilot.
[quote] Poor James Earl Jones - he's such a wonderful actor and for him to be stuck sitting next to that pontificating, pretentious cunt - eww.
[quote] James Earl Jones' expression is priceless. I just wish, when she was done, he'd have said, "Bitch, PLEASE!" in his Darth Vader voice.
[quote] I can't stop watching James Earl Jones' face. Somebody stop me.
|January 22, 2023 8:31 AM
[quote]I knew a closeted guy who spoke normally and then he came out and acquired insta-gayvoice.
Maybe the normal voice was his performance voice and he just got tired of using it when he came out.
|January 22, 2023 11:20 AM
yes, a neighbor who must be in her fifties, she uses baby talk. i see her whenever i walk my dog and we chat sometimes.
|January 22, 2023 11:29 AM
I know quite a few. Their common attribute- deep insecurities. Let them get on best they can.
|January 22, 2023 11:50 AM
What are you talking about OP?
|January 22, 2023 12:25 PM
Now, some just have an "ear" and pick up accents if they stay in a place for an extended period of time.
|January 22, 2023 12:27 PM
I knew Toni Morrison and she had a likable but obvious grande dame voice. I only met her when she was socially on so don't know if it ever cracked. I only saw Maya Angelou on TV and her version was annoying. Socialites in NY, Paris and Geneva put on all kinds of grande accents. It's only fun if they let people in on their charade.
When I went to Ivy League schools in the 80s, there were many "first generation at Ivy" Asian American students who had HEAVY theatrical Locust Valley Lockjaw. Some of them were dead serious about it. I had my first gay affair with one very clever very handsome very rich Asian American cunt who could lay it on, in parody, so that was fun. It's never much fun if the person putting it on isn't having fun with it. Then it's pitiable.
When I was younger I used to have a number of "My Grandmother Was a Lady in ______" friends. New Orleans, Havana, Rio, Beirut... Again the pretension and cosplay is fun when there is some distanciation and it's not mental illness and delusion. Often there is truth in it, and then it's amplified into grandness, for shits and giggles. You see there really WAS a High Society in Havana.....
Sadly I'm no Dr. Doolittle and I'm a lazy speaker of French so I don't get all the subtleties in very pretentious performative French. I mean I know its happening but I can't locate all the significations. I can pick out different registers - syntax and vocabulary - so I can identify posers. For example there are Francophone wiggas - middle class white boys who perform the ghetto vernacular. If they are working class white boys, it could very well NOT be performative, but when you know they are middle class, it's a silly as it is in English.
|January 22, 2023 12:50 PM
Sheepishly OP, who is “MJ”?
“Performative” is a handy word. I notice a great many people telling stories in strange animated ways in social settings, and it reminds me of some observational comedians. One irritating example includes adults “baby talking” with pets in public, play arguing with them in character “Oooh, Pewee, don’t eat that [other animal’s waste, discarded tissue, cigarette butt, used condom], that’s baaad for your tummy,no-no…”
The feigned accent thing is an odd affectation, and Baldwin is becoming so associated with it. It might become another thread here, “People Known for Shifty or Silly Behaviors”. I remember a runner who jumped into a marathon near the finish line. Now our family uses her name “Rosie Ruiz” for anyone claiming something they don’t deserve or haven’t legitimately earned. I think Baldwin might end up as an informal term for speaking with a pretentious fake accent, like when someone mumbles and we say “what are you trying say, Nell?”, or look for a tardy or missing guest with “anybody seen Jimmy Hoffa?.
We like her, but Kathleen Turner indulged in some affected speech mannerisms in the past, maybe back when she was on the sauce.
|January 22, 2023 1:02 PM
Well, use of "performative" is performative.
It needs to go.
|January 22, 2023 1:03 PM
Austin Butler and Elizabeth Holmes own this thread.
|January 22, 2023 1:11 PM
I did once watch a clip of Baldwin on a morning chat show cooking segment. Wow, she really overdid it with the fake accent. It really was confusing. “How you say? Gooh-ghombreh?” —> cucumber. Yikes.
Alec Baldwin was as bad or worse, correcting the pronunciation of her name with “Eeeeee-lahhhhhhrrrr-iahhh” rolling his “r’s” like he was having some form of seizure or clearing his throat. So pretentious.
|January 22, 2023 1:11 PM
The cofounder of N1 Tom Austin puts on a fake black accent. He’s from New England and lives in Los Angeles now. Was very strange in the documentary about the rise and fall of their shoe company.
|January 22, 2023 1:14 PM
The young woman (Gorman) who spoke at Biden's inauguration is obviously talented, creative, poised, etc but the swooping, weird deliveryvof her poetry was a deal breaker for me. I have been told that the equally annoying and wooden-looking hand gestures are a cultural/stylistic thing. That bugged me, too. It's like watching accomplished musicians (mostly pianists) who add so many mannerisms (like launching repeatedly off the piano bench for no good reason) that they cancel out their appeal.
|January 22, 2023 1:16 PM
Jemima Kirke puts on an English accent. I think she started it as a pretentious teenager and just stuck with it. She seems to have a sense of humor about it.
|January 22, 2023 1:19 PM
[quote]The young woman (Gorman) who spoke at Biden's inauguration is obviously talented
I take it you've never read her poems.
|January 22, 2023 1:25 PM
Who the fuck is Jemima Kirk?
|January 22, 2023 3:26 PM
If you have been to Calgary, AB, there is a large number of people who speak with a fake southern accent because of their obsession with country music and cowboy BS. It's hilarious.
|January 22, 2023 3:29 PM
R31 I think it's that lady who used to have syrup named after her and then they changed it because she was pissed off or something.
|January 22, 2023 3:29 PM
R31 : She's known because of Lens Dunham's Girls. That's about it.
|January 22, 2023 3:31 PM
I tried very hard to get rid of my apparently weird accent as I grew up (Mother was from Connecticut, Father from rural Massachusetts, and I grew up in Buffalo.) People frequently had no idea where I was from, and would say I pronounced words oddly. So during college (Virginia), I just adopted the most generic accent I could and I've stuck with it for 20 years.
|January 22, 2023 3:35 PM
Jemima was born in London.
|January 22, 2023 3:35 PM
Many years ago I worked with Debbie, an overweight, baby-faced woman who was a very sweet and kind person. Debbie spoke in a quiet, breathy Jacqueline Onassis type of voice that belied her appearance. She was affectionately nicknamed "1-900-Debbie" after the sex phone lines that existed at that time.
One day I was dropping off some papers in her neighbor's cubicle when I heard a man on Debbie's phone giving someone absolute hell. There was some kind of problem with a vendor and the man was really angry and taking it out on the poor soul on the other end of the call. Later I asked her neighbor who the man was sitting at Debbie's desk, and she burst out laughing. "That was Debbie. You've never heard her real voice?" While I wasn't shocked the sex kitten voice was an affectation, I was surprised to learn the woman who usually sounded like Marilyn Monroe could have Vin Diesel's voice come out of her. God only knows what happened to her to cause that behavior.
|January 22, 2023 3:46 PM
i know a couple of perfectly nice women who speak in a high register that doesn't sound right. not baby voice as such, but just not comfortable to hear. Occasionally a word or phrase will slip down Into an alto register and it immediately sounds right for them. I don't think it's even a conscious thing - they don't realise they are pitching their voice too high.
|January 22, 2023 3:53 PM
I've never heard of Hilaria except here. So she's definitely using a fake accent and for what purpose? I'd always heard from my Spanish step-grandmother that Charo faked a much thicker accent.
|January 22, 2023 4:15 PM
I hope Austin Butler does stick with the Elvis voice
|January 22, 2023 4:24 PM
Bette Davis only did the "Peet-AH, Peet-AH, Peet-AH!" voice when she was on a microphone--it was a total put-on.
So was Jackie Kennedy's babydoll voice she used for the White House tour on TV--in real life she had a weird accent like her cousins the Beales that was half Long Island and half Mid-Atlantic Received Pronunciation.
|January 22, 2023 6:18 PM
Everyone on NPR, to the point where it's unlistenable.
|January 22, 2023 6:42 PM
I had a friend whose mother could go from shrieking harridan to a phone sex operator in less than 2 telephone rings.
|January 22, 2023 7:52 PM
I have a friend who's a folksinger.
|January 22, 2023 7:53 PM
I work with someone who has that awful vocal fry and up speak. She was born and raised in Houston so she’s doing it intentionally. My ears shut down when she speaks.
|January 22, 2023 8:23 PM
Busy Phillips is fugly at R29.
|January 22, 2023 8:52 PM
I have a friend who starts to speak with an Irish brogue when he’s drunk. He’s not Irish and never lived there.
|January 22, 2023 10:57 PM
I have a friend who lived in rage UK for a year when she was three or four years old. She has a maintained a British accent for over 50 years now.
|January 22, 2023 11:10 PM
Margaret Thatcher's accent - her whole voice - was the product of training.
|January 22, 2023 11:16 PM
[quote]Now, some just have an "ear" and pick up accents if they stay in a place for an extended period of time.
The same, R19. I don't take on a whole accent, nor do anything "performative," but it's easy to make a bit of a hash on the cognates, to smooth out the edges of their different pronunciations, to slip up and start to pronounce a word with one set of rules rather than another. it happens in American and British versions of English, and between different languages as well. Word ordering, too, can bend one way or another. For a native English speaker, living in France and speaking French, it's natural for his word ordering of a question in English to shift sometimes to French patterns -- not wrong, but maybe not customary.
If you've been exposed to lots of people with different accents some of the weirdness factor disappears. I have friends with whom I speak in English and Spanish who speak with the underlying accent of their native language. This is less noticeable to me than to someone who speaks only English or only Spanish, or to someone less accustomed to accents not close to their own (the way some Americans in Boston and New Orleans insist they don't understand a word of what the other is saying.) The more accustomed you are to hearing different accents, the better your ear for understanding -- and overlooking the differences.
For all of that, there are people with crazy affected accents and they still stand out, not less for recognizing conflicting patterns.
And then there are the Jemima Kirkes. Born in London to British parents, she was raised in the U.S. and states that she consciously chose to lean British rather than American - in contrast to a sister (video upthread) who leaned to what she heard outside her parents. Some people start to sound like their friends, some people spend four days in Paris and their lives and pronunciation are forever changed. I'm a little forgiving of that, bearing in mind my own faults, but up to the limit of a shithouse crazy Hilaria Baldwin.
|January 23, 2023 12:35 AM
I'd give almost anything to be rid of my gay voice/lisp and regionalism and have a more resonant, deeper voice. I've spent a fortune on speech therapists and voice coaches and "lose your accent" programs and while I can do it in class, it just never takes hold in real life and never sounds natural.
|January 23, 2023 2:16 AM
What's your regionalism, R55?
|January 23, 2023 2:19 AM
James Lipton - Inside the Actors Studio
|January 23, 2023 2:24 AM
[quote] James Lipton - Inside the Actors Studio
|January 23, 2023 2:29 AM
Andrew Sullivan speaks mimicking an American accent.
I knew him when he was a graduate student and I was an undergraduate and he spoke with a decided Sussex accent that was pretty thick (it was often hard to understand him).
|January 23, 2023 3:46 AM
I remember when Sullivan sounded very different as well, R59, not long after his move to the U.S.
More than 30 years, though, is a long time to live in a country with the same language as your native tongue only with some relatively minor differences in pronunciation and sounds and patterns of usage. When you're surrounded by people who pronounce that same word a different way every time, you may involuntarily start to apply the rules of the other geography. You learn to stop saying certain words or to change or smooth out the pronunciation of certain words to hold people's attention to what you say rather than your word choice or differently accented pronunciation. You start to say some words the more in the way that your American friends and colleagues and shopkeepers do, it's a natural progression more than an affectation, more unconscious than conscious for many people. It's a bit damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't, whether you hold on to the old geography or adapt to the new with near perfection.
Whether by choice or involuntarily or some mix of the two, there are pluses and minuses to holding onto an accent for decades, and in some places and times it may work more to an advantage than in another.
|January 23, 2023 12:38 PM
I’d think it would be tiring to maintain a breathy voice like Marilyn Monroe and maybe even painful to raise or lower one’s voice on a daily basis.
|January 23, 2023 3:05 PM
What’s the deal with the Nolan brothers? Christopher has an English accent but Jonathan has an American accent. Were they raised by different mothers in different locations?
|January 23, 2023 3:40 PM
I have lived in Texas my entire life. I grew up in the suburbs and never developed a "Texas" accent. But when I'm around rural country folk, I unconsciously slip into a slight redneck way of speaking. It's nothing over-the-top, but it's not how I typically speak.
|January 23, 2023 3:44 PM
One of my sisters started dating someone she really admired (too much admiration) and took on a version of that person’s way of speaking. It was weird and I didn’t like it.
|January 23, 2023 3:49 PM
[quote] More than 30 years, though, is a long time to live in a country with the same language as your native tongue only with some relatively minor differences in pronunciation and sounds and patterns of usage
This is true, but is not relevant here. But Andrew moved to the US in 1984, and he started speaking fully with an American accent by 1989-90.
|January 23, 2023 3:50 PM
A normal accent is not performative.
|January 23, 2023 3:56 PM
My voice is like a more cultured, refined, and ladylike version of a young Jacqueline Kennedy.
|January 23, 2023 4:06 PM
I knew a man from Ohio who spoke with a Boston accent. He never lived there but it suited him.
|January 23, 2023 4:13 PM
R67 = Little Edie Bouvier
|January 23, 2023 4:31 PM
Ryan Phillipe and the other Ryan playing Ken. Both sound like they were born and raised in Queens
|January 23, 2023 4:55 PM
Yeah, Ryan Gosling's accent is definitely an affectation. He's from Canada.
|January 23, 2023 5:21 PM
Madonna is proof enough that acquiring an accent overnight, even if it is the accent where you move to, can be performative and not natural.
|January 23, 2023 5:24 PM
Amen, R44. The female announcers on “Morning Edition” drive me up a wall with their soft, almost whispering voices. It’s totally affected and false.
|January 23, 2023 6:24 PM
R51. Unsure how autocorrect changed “the” to “rage”. It happens 🤷♂️
|January 23, 2023 7:02 PM
Regarding accents: 1970s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger emigrated from Germany to the US as a teenager, and kept a heavy German accent his entire life.
Once some reporter tracked down his brother Walter, a private citizen, and was astonished to find that the brother spoke with an American accent, in spite of also having emigrated as a teen.
"Why do you speak with an American accent, and your brother with a German accent?" asked the reporter.
"Because Henry never listens to people", said Walter.
|January 23, 2023 10:12 PM
Thanks, R75. That story is at once both the kindest and the worst reflection on the miserable fuck.
|January 23, 2023 11:04 PM
My neighbors' parents were from the sticks in Oklahoma. There were 4 kids and the one who was my age took on some of the Oklahoma way of speaking. The other 3 kids didn't really talk like their parents.
I also had a coworker whose mom was from the Philippines. My coworker was fluent in English but had a strong Filipino accent. I was surprised to find out that she (coworker) was actually born in the US, not in the Philippines.
|January 24, 2023 1:04 AM
Janet Jackson: Whisper-coo
|January 24, 2023 1:11 AM
That's always interesting to see how local accents take or don't within a family. Without any obvious class or educational edge, my parents and siblings escaped the local accent (a harsh 'Mama's Family' sort of crackly Upper South/not Southern twang mixed with hints of NASCAR) unscathed but for some slight traces in my mother and one sibling.
Likewise the girls and hard boys who would never venture far beyond where they were born had a harsh stingy way of speech ad though each word cost them something and they tried to swallow some back for a bit if savings. The kids would would go away to universities in other places and leave the nest, usually for good, had a more Mid-Atlantic newscaster way of speech, accent-free but for maybe a very few tiny clues.
A few kids had a notably hick accent earlier on, but mostly it took adult form from around age 12, 13. Peer fed.
There were always the off exceptions: the one son of foreign-born doctors who would take on the strongest of hick accents.
|January 24, 2023 6:18 AM
I had a co-worker who was from the Philippines. She had an American accent and she told me she got that because her school teachers back home were American. She lived there during the Marcos days so I was fascinated to hear what she had to say about Imelda.
|January 24, 2023 6:37 AM
Jackie On Assistance did.
|January 24, 2023 11:39 PM
I growed up in Nebraska and my sister affects a cut-glass Mid-Atlantic accent.
|February 12, 2023 9:08 AM
My nephew (I know, I know) is a pampered innocent upper-middle blond kid who had adopted the speech of an urbane black teen. This coincides with pubertal voice changes. It’s endlessly hilarious to me. He shuffles his feet, avoids eye contact or anything beyond “Yeh” or “Nah” in answer to questions.
He drops it with his cousin who teases him about it.
|February 12, 2023 10:24 AM
When I worked in a hotel I encountered many rich middle aged British ex-pat women who sounded exactly like Jackie Collins. I always thought Jackie had invented that ridiculous accent so it was always hard not to laugh in their faces. They were usually cunts who wanted an upgrade but wouldn’t ask. Instead they’d be passive aggressive - “thank you darling, now that room doesn’t have X does it” Ugh
A colleague used to work at the Plaza Athenee on the UES where he had met the real Jackie Collins many times. He said she was lovely, kind, generous and would remember things you told her. She would return a year later and ask how your mother recovered from her surgery. She hated the pillows but never created a fuss. She’d go buy her own!
|February 12, 2023 10:29 AM
R80 A lot of young people in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands speak English in almost perfect “general American” accents. Philippines too which is why so many companies go there to outsource customer support.
|February 12, 2023 10:33 AM
Grown women with cultivated baby voice kill me.
|February 12, 2023 10:56 AM
R10- I'm going to hell for this, but James Earl Jones' expression here is the exact same one my grandfather used to get whenever he had to get into a car that a woman was driving.
|February 12, 2023 10:57 AM
My grandmother in her 80s does a high-pitcher babytalk voice and even occasionally uses baby words (like “yummy” and “tummy”), especially when men are around.
I wonder if she might slowly be losing her faculties generally, and that is the reason. She also laughs at random pretty much every other sentence, when what she’s saying or responding to isn’t humorous.
|February 12, 2023 11:03 AM
R84 So many non-AA men under the age 40 speak in Ebonics now, for no reason. Is this due to the export of rap culture worldwide?
Even Polynesians & Pacific Islanders who don’t come from the mainland of America at all have these urban gangsta accents & slang lexicons. It’s baffling.
|February 12, 2023 11:09 AM
R86 no American company outsources English speaking customer support to Sweden or the Netherlands. What possible saving could be done by doing that when the wages are a lot higher for those jobs than in the USA.
|February 12, 2023 12:09 PM
My co worker does this. Her accents waver from Valley Girl to a Brit accent depending on who she is conversing with. Peeople who do this have mental issues
|February 12, 2023 12:22 PM
The chick at R29 video needs mental help
|February 12, 2023 12:24 PM
R92 - I meant the Philippines.
|February 12, 2023 1:08 PM
Back in the late ‘90s a friend & I dined at India Joze, a restaurant in Santa Cruz where her bf worked. They didn’t seat us in his area, so this waitress came & discussed the specials in this incomprehensible Middle Eastern-ish accent, we could barely understand a word she said. Later, her bf stopped by our table & we asked him where she was from, & he seemed nonplussed & said Iowa (or something like that). We asked him about her accent, only to learn she didn’t have one. We thought maybe she was trying to sound exotic to increase her tips or something, because it was really odd. Her accent also appeared to shift each time she came by.
On the last MTV season of The Real World, they had this bizarre African-American chick from Alpharetta GA who spoke Cockney English, sounding like a Dickens waif. One of her roomies asked her where she was from & she said “from a vagina.” The roomie told her “no, you from a dick!” In a confessional she said, “Oi, that blew me mind, no one’s ever challenged me like that.” (Spoiler alert: she was really dumb). One time she got in a spat with a roommate & started speaking Jamaican patois.
The show’s gimmick was that they eventually brought in the roommates’ nemeses, & all the roomies dealt with it, but this one went & hid in her room when her rival moved in. The frenemy informed everyone that she knew the whole family, the chick (Tyara) had no accent, other than garden variety Siuthern. Tyara later admitted she was trying to be something she wasn’t, found out she was pregnant while on the show, & left.
|February 12, 2023 5:42 PM