Mumbling Is Not An Option

Walking through the Quaker Bridge Mall this evening, I overheard part of a conversation between two high school-aged girls. I only caught a few sentences, but I’m pretty sure that none of their words contained consonants. They were communicating by doing little more than opening their mouths and giving inflection to the sounds that came out. And this was enough for them to understand each other.

Spend all your life in the same community and you, too, can get away with talking like that. But not many of us do.

We grow up, move around, and learn to adapt to different accents and turns of phrase. We stop mumbling and start speaking like Henry Higgins intended us to. Any actor will tell you that; they have to be prepared to speak to any kind of audience. Mumbling is not an option—bad Brando parodies included.

Seeing those two girls surprised me; they illustrated just how much you can say without saying a single word. They could never get up onstage—or in front of a class—and talk like that. It made me appreciate the memorization and physical labor that goes into using one’s voice in any sort of profession. It’s a steeper hill than I first thought.

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