I’m in a Facebook group about using Audacity for Voiceover work. Someone in the group who has a self-proclaimed “prominent lisp” was using “DeEsser” and “DeClicker” plugins to reduce it. She posted some edited vs unedited examples.
I’m surprised the tech cleaned it up as much as it did. Were it me, I’d fix it at the source, rather than in post. Which is to say, if I were the person on the purchasing end of the transaction, hire someone who doesn’t have a lisp.
A lisp. Voiceover work. Huh. Well I guess the heart wants what it wants. Teens with thick glasses who want to be fighter pilots. Thick-fingered trolls (like myself) who want to be guitarists.
But – let’s assume I have a lisp, but for whatever unfathomable reason, I also yearn to do Voiceover work. I’d either get speech therapy, or my teeth fixed (I have no clue of the causes in the poster’s case). I’ve known a couple people (from my elementary school) who had a prominent lisp, and they fixed it. But I also had a niece with a lisp (as a toddler), and I suggested (because of experience with the previously-mentioned people) that it could be improved with speech therapy – and my bro-in-law angrily contended that there was nothing wrong. So I shrugged it off, and as an adult, she still has a lisp, which seems from my uneducated perspective to be unnecessary.
This all makes me wonder about accents, affectations, hearing, etcetera. I don’t know much Spanish. But when I do speak Spanish, I try to speak it with a Mexican accent (as I hear it). I try not to sound like a big dumb gringo (my appearance as such is more than sufficient). I’ve had Mexican immigrants (a bank teller, in one case), jump to the conclusion that my mother tongue was Español. What is it about me that I’m able to do that, while my co-worker a few cubicles away (born in Ukraine) speaks with such a thick, wet (literally) accent that he’s difficult for us to understand (or stay dry)? If I can spit “day-tah-base” just like him, why can’t he say “database” just like me?
And here’s my theory: Some people who have emigrated here, have somehow come to the conclusion that if they talk a LOT like us (native US English speakers – worse yet, Minnesotans), that we will feel mocked.
You know, how Hollywood so often uses a Southern accent for a dumb character, even though there’s no reason to conclude that regional diction has any correlation to intelligence. So when a Yankee such as myself takes on a Southern accent in order to “sound dumb,” we’re mocking. Ergo, although when I’m in the South I can talk like the locals in order to reduce their struggle to understand what I’m saying, I’m keenly aware of the possibility that I’m also hurting someone’s feelings – so I’m cautious about it.
A related theory: Though I’m sure, depending on the causes, some speech characteristics that one might want to fix, could be fixed, but might there be a subconscious resistance? If I was from Boston, but wanted to excel in VO work, or in broadcasting, and I started pronouncing Rs properly, would my family and friends think I think I’m bettah [sic] than them? (Insert your favorite clip from Goodwill Hunting here.) Might I struggle to overcome my own psychological resistance to changing my speech? Does a particular speech pathology, however undesirable for voiceover work, be so ingrained in a person’s identity that it’s more difficult to fix than it might otherwise be?
And I wonder what the overlap is between adults with a speech impediment AND who also do VO work.