The Sound of Speech

BBC Essex on the radio, playing some nice music.

Why do so many local radio presenters sound so alike? Particularly the men. I used to be convinced the same guy dashed from one radio station to another to present shows under different names. Their voices sound similar and they have similar patterns of speech and intonation. Perhaps they all went to the same DJ school.

And that Robert Preston! BBC business editor or something – often on Breakfast TV and Radio 4. He’s on a lot lately because of the credit crunch and the recent business with the banks running out of money. He trips along in his speech in quite an awkward manner. His inflexions, tones, pauses and emphasis come at the most unexpected moments. I find it annoying and fascinating all at once.

Listening to him is like trying to negotiate an unfamiliar obstacle course. I’m constantly stumbling to keep up with his flow. I’ve suspected there’s evidence of some sort of past speech impediment overcome, or a learned, practiced, way of speaking that seems to him to fit the purpose.

There’s often a young woman in tow on these radio shows. Think Terry Wogan (he’s pc though – he has a man as well). They seem to be in the background to provide some back up to the presenter, and read the weather and travel news – a kind of afterthought or second-rate presenter. Perhaps they’re in training. There’s one who mumbles something now and again on whatever I’m listening to at the moment.

I find the way most people speak fascinating. I love listening out for their quirks in speech and expression of speech. I love listening to their traces of accents, their inadvertent windows when their realĀ  selves show through. People also leak emotion in their manner of speech and in Freudian slips. Are puns Freudian slips? I’ve often wondered where the connection comes from in the train of thought that leads to the pun. There’s always relevance to the initial subject of conversation.