What is wrong with American female voices?

The first time that I ever heard a jarring American female voice was at a wedding reception several years ago. It was so high pitched and nasal that I feared for the fate of the crystal goblets at the reception. I still shudder at the memory of it as I wondered how her young spouse could possibly tolerate it.

Quite literally, the sound of it was excruciating.

Over the last few years, particularly on T.V and in films American women have adopted this horrible high-pitched twang that should be banned by the Geneva Convention because it is an instrument of torture. Not only do these women sound dumb but one can’t bear to listen to them for long before waving a white flag and selecting MUTE on the remote. These women are mostly young, blond and strident and they apparently fit the Fox Channel profile for newsreader or commentator.

By contrast, the men on the Fox Channel sound fine. Their voices are melodious and low. Even the excitable Glenn Beck sounds better than those screeching females. There is one notable exception on this channel and that’s Greta Van Susteren.

Contrast this with the female voices on the BBC, much lower, slower and less jarring than those on CNN and the biggest culprit, the Fox Channel. So one has to ask why this is so?

I wondered if it’s all that peroxide they apply on their tresses. It’s gotten to the stage that I can’t tell one presenter from another because they all look like clones of Barbie. Is it due to the pill? Surely that should apply to the BBC as well then.

I’ve noticed that some of the older women on TV don’t speak in that way. Barbara Walters and Whoopie Goldberg’s voices are an octave lower and they sound quite pleasant. So I believe that it could be an age thing.

The horrible strident way of speaking is probably due to the way that peer groups copy one another. The women in their twenties and thirties have grown up shrieking and uttering “Oh my God!” every second and so now they all speak like that. They sound like clucking chickens who have just glimpsed the rooster strutting towards them.

Just as all things American will inevitably hit our shores and become part of our culture I have noticed that young girls in Australia are beginning to sound like that as well.

While we were travelling on a tram recently a group of Melbourne schoolgirls from a private school boarded our tram.

I have said it before that travelling on public transport gives you a wonderful insight into our culture. When the travellers are not plugged into their Ipods they venture into conversation. Well, these girls sounded exactly like Chris Lilley’s snooty 16 year old private schoolgirl in his comedy series “Summer Heights High.”

I confess to being a bit of a Professor Higgins when it comes to language and accents and I almost burst out laughing when these girls were trying to outdo each other on who was going to more parties this coming weekend. They spoke but never finished a sentence. It was phrase after phrase of hyperbole. “”Oh that’s the worst , I mean…it’s so the worst.” Lilley has it down perfectly.

So Australian females are sounding differently too and they sound more American. Seeing that it’s the culture to which they are most exposed this should not be surprising.

Their voices were only a couple of octaves away from that terrifying Fox Channel sound. And it was rather frightening.

Apparently, according to demographer, Bernard Salt, there is a shortage of men in Australia between the ages of 27 and 58 and perhaps this is the young women’s way of attracting the attention of the rooster. Just a thought, but it’s plausible. Perhaps that’s the case in the U.S. as well.

Oh how I long for the mellifluous voice of a Glenda Jackson or Jana Wendt. Our Tracy Grimshaw is a pleasure to listen to as well. Why can’t American women sound more like Meryl Streep? Could it be that it’s the American way of shattering that elusive glass ceiling? If you can’t make it, then break it…with your irritating voices?


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