The Importance of Voice

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January 4, 2022
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February 16, 2022
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The Importance of Voice

As you know, I am learning French. I found out that in modern spoken French if you ask somebody, “Do you have a book?”, or you tell somebody “You have a book.” you use the exact same words in the exact same order. 

This being the case, how do you know if you’re making a statement or asking a question? The answer is: in the tone of voice.

So much of the meaning and emotion of what we say comes from our voice. Words by themselves don’t express emotion. When we speak it is our voice that carries the emotion and lots of other information as well. When you get a phone call from a stranger, you often can judge the age, gender, gender preference, health, mood, purpose and so much more about the caller by the voice alone, even if they were speaking a language that you don’t understand. 

In writing, words are also not enough for expressing what someone is saying, That’s why we use descriptive words to try to get the emotion of the story across. i.e. he exclaimed; shouted; pleaded; cried out, etc, along with punctuation ?!. In our text conversations, thank goodness for emojis 😢😩😃.

Words do express our thoughts, but our voice is as essential in speaking as it is in singing. As a matter of fact, we learned to activate our voice long before we spoke a single word. Babies use their voice in many ways to express what they are feeling. Even adults sometimes express themselves with the voice only. Do you ever say yes, no, maybe, it doesn’t matter with just your voice?

The voice is a prerequisite to learning to speak. When we have something to say, the most important thing that the speaker does is create vibrations that make their way into the listener’s ears. It is these physical vibrations that are the essence of verbal communication. Sure, the shape of the vocal tract, the opening above the vocal cords, transforms these vibrations into speech sounds. But it is the vibrations that are in essence the speech. Speech cannot exist without the voice. 

You might ask how this has anything to do with stuttering. After all, people who stutter use their voice. Yes, of course they do. Otherwise, we wouldn’t hear them. However, there is a big difference between how people who stutter and naturally fluent speaks activate their voice. People who stutter often use their mouth to make the shape of the speech sounds and words and then add their voice to get the words out, instead of the other way around that I have already described as the natural process. 

It is really important to understand this difference that may not seem important, but that is of the utmost importance for speaking if you want to speak in a natural and flowing way. 

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