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We Need to Talk

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Have you ever heard a recording of your normal speaking voice?

Kind of weird, right?

Recently, I had the opportunity to both hear and see myself on tape.

My performance was -- eek! -- cringe-worthy.

Not for the normal reasons. It wasn't my usual merciless self-critique of every aspect of my appearance. Not this time.

Fuhgeddaboudit.

It was the way I tawked.

My voice sounded so peculiar to me, what with the references to cawfee and my bawss, the long Philadelphia oooo's in "you knoooooow," my hodgepodge Berks County/Philly/Jewish mother affect that seemed almost a parody. Who else tawks like that?

Don't get me wrong. I actually love regional accents, and sometimes challenge myself to pinpoint someone's hometown by eavesdropping on the conversation (I am nerdy, but harmless). Pittsburghers are a dead giveaway with their warshing the car and going dahntahn and Did yinz watch the Stillers on Sunday?

Of course, on Sundays here in Fluffya, we watch the Iggles with our hoagies and cheesesteaks.

Bostonians are famous for Hahvahd Yahd and pak the cah. You know you're in New York if you hear someone order a bagel wit a shmear and a chawcolate cookie.

When I first heard my Chicago-born college roommate say she wanted a pap, I had no idea she was hankering for a Coke. My friend from Green Bay pronounced her state Wisgonsin, not "Wiskonsin," the way I say it.

You say potato, I say potahto. You say hoorible, I say hahrible.

I imagine our non-American friends secretly snicker at the way we talk. Why shouldn't they, when our accents are so all over the place and theirs seem to have so much more panache, from the erudite British to the singsong Swedish to the sensual French?

Did you know that when most non-Americans try to imitate an American accent, it comes out as an extreme Texas drawl? Yup, pardner, that's what we sound like to them.

Here's another piece of trivia that I learned years ago. When presented with a list of English words, a cross-section of non-English speakers thought that "cellar door" had the most pleasing sound.

Yes, regional accents are sometimes amusing, but diversity in speech keeps things interesting. After all, we don't want to sound alike. That would be boring.

For now, I will finish my bottle of wudder and go awn my way.

Any awwsome voice coaches out there?