To deliver our best interpretation of a script, we voice actors MUST stay abreast of trends, colloquiallisms, the latest vernacular, patterns of speech and popular sayings.
Case in point: Would any of us really get the spirit of “NOT!”…if we weren’t familiar with how Garth said it on Saturday Night Live?
THAT delivery of THAT word speaks attitude, cynicism, immaturity, irony, and teasing all at once, and if you didn’t know popular culture you wouldn’t deliver that line right in whatever copy it appears. (OK, so I’m dating myself with the example, but you get my drift).
Listen to your teenagers talk. If you don’t have teenagers, park yourself next to some teens talking to their friends someday (even a one-sided phone conversation), and just listen.
My observation? About every 5th word is “like”. “…and so it was like…too much!…I mean, like, I said to her it was just…like…over the top….like, can you believe her!”
I’m not judging. I’m sure I’ve done a fair amount of what I like to call “speech-crutching” myself.
Being in a profession that values not only popular, understandable phrasing in speech, but also correct grammar in the written word FIRST, I’ve come to see how the speech-crutch comes to play in every day life.
Bear with me while I offer a few examples? Cool! (uh-oh, there I go).
Aside from “like”, almost everybody’s favorite speech-crutch is “you know”, or “ya know”. It can be a question or a statement. ALMOST as prevalent as “like” in everyday speech. A close cousin is Nomsayn? (Do you know what I am saying?). This seems to be a favorite of professional athletes.
“Uh’s”…and “ah’s”….or “and, um” don’t count, ’cause they’re not REALLY words…but here’s one of my favorites:
“…in terms of…” A close friend who is a respected leader in our community peppers his normally articulate verbiage with this phrase repeatedly. “This ad campaign will be successful in terms of the people who will see the billboards.” ‘Drives me nuts!…but I haven’t had the gumption to call him on it.
My favorite NEWS phrase that has almost no application to the real worls is “wreak havoc”. We never use either of those words separately…only together in that phrase. “The hurricane’s high winds wreaked havoc on coastal communities.”
OK, look.. we all have our favorite pet-peeves of phraseology (like, “look”).
My purpose here is to remind the voice actor of how indigineous those word-crutches and phrases are. If we’re to make our deliveries conversational (as we’re often asked to do), you might keep in mind how people really talk. It’s a far cry from Shakespeare.
Most common speech is full of pauses, stutters, slang, grunts, snickers, and speech-crutches. You could almost put them in a bin, and pull one out every once in a while to make this, you know, like, more…real. Nomsayn?