Let’s Get Dialectic

by | Feb 5, 2015 | Techniques | 1 comment

dialectsMany voice actors think that you’re either gifted with the ability to do dialects or you’re not.  I suppose it’s true that some might grasp the nuances of dialects faster than others.  But that’s also true of audiobook narration, videogame voice-acting, and promo voices.

Anyone can learn the mechanics of a few dialects well enough to be convincing.  In fact, it’s kinda fun  (and besides it comes in handy as an ice-breaker at parties and family card parties).

My most recent blog about dialects: 15+ Dialect Sites was published last October, but was just noticed by a dialect coach the other day.   Pamela Vanderway, the founder of a site called DialectCoaches.com makes the claim that her site:  “…is connecting producers and actors with the ideal coaches for their project and career needs. Her method is straightforward and efficient. Every dialect coach in the DialectCoach.com network undergoes a comprehensive application and interview process before becoming eligible for referral so clients can be assured that they will be working with trained professionals. Every client who contacts us receives a personal phone call to thoroughly discuss their project needs and then is matched with the dialect coach or coaches that will best help them reach their dialect training goals.  This personal referral service is currently being offered at no charge and Pamela Vanderway aims to keep the service free for as long as possible.”

Vanderway also wrote a helpful article for BackStage.com that may help you decide whether this is a skill you need in your voiceover toolbox:  Six Steps Toward Learning a New Accent.  ‘Might be worth a look-see.

Thanks, Pamela!




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1 Comment

  1. william Williams

    It’s important when studying accents for use in voice over to understand the difference between an “authentic” accent and a “stereotypical” accent. Authentic is Ricardo Montalban, stereotypical is Speedy Gonzales.

    An authentic accent is how a native speaker actually speaks. It is good for film roles and stage roles and a dialect coach can help you dial in your lines for a particular performance.

    But in voice over, the more you perfect your authentic accent, the closer you will be to putting yourself out of work. If the client wants authenticity they will simply hire a native speaker. This is even more true now that talent can be hired over the internet from anywhere in the world.

    A stereotypical accent captures the “stereotype” of a character, which is usually non-authentic and often negative or insulting. Because of this, native speakers do not understand their own stereotype and if they did, they would hesitate to portray their own people in that way.

    I was recently hired to portray a “cowboy” for a restaurant in Dallas Texas by a Dallas ad agency. Now, there are, I daresay, millions of cowboys in Texas. Buy real cowboys don’t know what a “cowboy” should sound like. It ain’t Larry Hagman–it’s Yosemite Sam! So they hired WW from Los Angeles. Ahh, now THAT’s what a “cowboy” should sound like! Yee Haw!


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