Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Exaggerated Practice

August 29th, 2017 by G.


A scholar’s study suggests that adults can acquire foreign accents more readily than thought.  They just need their teachers to speak to them in an exaggerated sing-song way, like mothers do to toddlers.  And perhaps they need to practice the same way.

On my mission, I hammed up the Spanish accent.  I rolled my R’s like I was the progeny of a rumbling freight train and a Scotch burr, I zhhed like nobody’s business, and my lip v’s would put some parodists to shame.  My fellow missionaries rolled their eyes.

But everyone knew where my fellow missionaries were from. Whereas I caught out a number of Spaniards. A number asked me if I was from Basque country or South America.

I learned singing the same way. I’ve never had a voice coach but I’m pretty decent. Mostly I learned to sound good by mocking opera singers. When you ham up the operatic thing, you soon realize that you actually sound decent if you just back off a little bit. I’ve tried this method on a few men who didn’t think they could sing, and had at least one success.

Mortal life is preparing us for the needs of eternity. We usually think that it is preparing us in baby steps, that the challenges there will be more difficult versions of the ones here. That is probably true in a great many cases. But I wonder if some of what we are going through here is like baby talk. Simplified, but exaggerated.

Comments (3)
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August 29th, 2017 05:44:38

August 29, 2017

I had a voice teacher emphasize “fish lips” to me. Exaggerate the motion of your lips almost to the point of parody. I was surprised that it really did improve the sound.

August 29, 2017

Can can see Bill Clinton and Donald Trump use “fish lips” when they are attempting to convince/persuade the audience of something.

I think it’s part of “programmed linguistics” or programmed something. Another mannerism under the same heading is moving the closed fist, with thumb over the index finger, thumb pointing at audience, up and down. Clinton and Obama did that a lot. John F Kennedy did it a lot. It’s a manipulative technique, part of the art of persuasion.

I found that “fish lips” helps with pronunciation in French.

The baby talk can be over done. I knew two girls who did it through at least age 12. I don’t think they were learning disabled, that was the way their mother always talked in front of them.

I was lucky. My high school spanish teacher and one of my school friends spent a lot of time in the country where I served a mission. (Thanks to the school mate, I knew the major local cuss words on day one.)

September 7, 2017

The skills of singing and speaking a language are closely related. I found that singing hymns in Spanish was the quickest way to improve my accent, since singing naturally exaggerates all of the sounds.

A related skill is doing impressions. It’s all about exaggerated mimicry.

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