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Speaking In Tongues?

Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009 3:53 AM

I had the opportunity to take a voice class on Wednesday, working with Doug Honoroff on dialects. (This is a series of classes offered through Voice One, beginning with Articulatory Flexibility.)

The challenge was to acquire a Chinese accent, as if I were a Mandarin speaker who had learned English as a second language. It's a challenge, because I had a heavy accent when I was a child - so heavy that the nuns sent me to 'speech lessons' in 2nd Grade. Consequently, my normal speaking voice lacks any trace of a Chinese accent, while my parents and sisters still have traces of one.

So the process consists of learning vowel and consonant combinations as they sound in Mandarin, identifying a similar sound in English, and 're-mapping' the sounds in your head. (It's both easier and more complicated than it sounds, since it involves using the International Phonetic Alphabet.)

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