Friday, June 29, 2012

Diction is dying

I have to wince when I listen to a lot of radio and TV voiceovers in commercials.  The final T or D at the end of words appears to have gone missing from most voice artists' pronunciation.  I'm not sure whether this is a conscious decision by ad makers to be less "formal" but if it is, it's a real misunderstanding about diction.

A good voice artist or actor can easily make words clear and easy to hear without over-pronouncing or formalizing their diction.  However, I suspect many and probably successful voice artists working today haven't been trained in diction.

Next time listen and see how many  times you hear the last T or D on a word--without being over pronounced which is diction error as well--or a glottal stop.  (This is a real dying skill as actors I know who've been trained at the National Theatre School have no idea what a glottal stop is.)

My incredible voice prof from my alma mater, the U of Minnesota theatre program, Prof. Elizabeth Nash, taught us all about glottal stops and once you know what they are, you won't do them and you'll cringe when you hear them.  As the knowledge dies out, and the current generation no longer cares about diction, (any more than grammar and spelling), I know I'll miss it.

(I bought chairs in one of the renovated theatres in U of Minnesota's Rarig Center in honour of Prof. Nash and my other mentor, Prof. Charles Nolte, my playwriting prof--who told me I wasn't a playwright but might be a screenwriter.)

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