Friday, November 12, 2004

vocal capital

Yesterday, I was sitting in on a seminar and I found myself wondering: How would my academic presence/gravitas/career be different if everything about me was the same, except I spoke with a British accent? I think most of my prattlings would be regarded as far more intellectually sparkling if I was able to deliver them with a voice that sounded like it came off the BBC, rather than the voice of Yahoo The Mumbling Adenoidal Farmboy.


Anonymous said...

Pescatarianism v Rastafarianism - your accent is blurring the distinction here - with as much of a monotone voice as you can possibly muster, please clarify

tina said...

I offer as evidence to support your Vocal Capital hypothesis the following:

I know one person who, though born and raised in the United States, has a sort of pan-European accent. Not quite British, but nasal. The kind of accent you can only make if you tilt your head back slightly and turn down the corners of your mouth when you speak. He is a Very Famous Sociologist. I know of no one who has such an accent who is not a Very Famous Sociologist.

Anonymous said...

> if everything about me was
> the same, except I spoke with
> a British accent?

This is of course impossible. If you spoke with a British accent, all kinds of other things about you would have to be different as well. For instance, you wouldn't have the midwestern sociological habitus that led you to treat your accent as a variable that was orthogonal to all your other characteristics. ;-) Your closest British counterpart *does* speak with a British accent, but not the plummy BBC one you have in mind. Instead he comes from, e.g., Rotherham, or Preston, and wonders whether he would have more presence/gravitas if he spoke with the broad, open tones of an American accent.

- kjh

Anonymous said...

Wait... you don't speak with a British accent? I have got to get my ears checked!

Anonymous said...

He could generate some very biting satire if he would only affect a Cockney accent - that much is apparent!

Anonymous said...

stick with the iowa-speak and be PROUD of it. we need more, not fewer, rural-midwestern voices in the academy.