Thursday, March 31, 2016

My Voice Essay

I have three voices: Me, Robo-voice and Roux.

My voice is “broken” and has been seriously so for three years. The problem began in the late 1980s. Episodes were initially short and very infrequent. Since, they have just gotten worse and lasted longer. My last episode endured through the last part of 2013 and almost all of 2014. This episode began roughly two months ago.

I discovered Robo-voice when my only voice was my broken voice. I noticed one day when someone asked me my phone number that I could count like my normal speaking self. My voice was loud and clear. There was something about “commencing” speech that allowed me to make sound. Sustaining speech was impossible.

Robo-voice began as speaking one-syllables at a time, stopping, and then starting again. It was slow and hard on listeners and seemed to me to require holding my breath. I found myself often gasping for air.

Recently, I discovered that by lowering my shoulders and relaxing completely—even shutting my eyes—and speaking slowly on a single note or tone, I could “talk” softly but quickly and in a voice close to my own.

I think of Robo-voice as flat; it’s my “black-and-white” voice. I don’t like using it and friends don’t like me using it.

Roux, on the outher hand, lets me speak in full colour. It is my “rainbow” voice that allows me to speak quickly and with lots of tone and inflection; it facilitates emotional expression. It is a voice of convenience and very handy in communication emergencies.

Roux has been, so far, embarrassing to speak. I feel phony and it can prove hard to shed if I use it too much, but it is easy and once my listeners and I get used to is, it is very, very effective.

I have no idea how I discovered Roux or how I learned it. I never ever in my life tried to learn how to speak like an Australian but I always loved playing with accents. I have always been a “funny” person; many have told me so, and accents were part of my shtick—not necessarily foreign, but fey, snobby, or drunk as other examples.

But I do remember one day saying “beck,” as in “beck and call,” and realizing that the way I’d said “beck” was how an Australian says “back.” It it was like finding a key that unlocked how to do an Aussie accent. With that one word, I suddenly could “fake” an accent that sounded like somewhere in the colonial southern hemisphere.

Final Notes
  1. Mr. Morrison at VGH diagnosed my problem as due to GERD. I have been taking Tecta since October 2014 but to no effect. I also have been doing exercises prescribed by Dr. Ramage since October 2014. I go back to them in June.
  2. I would desperately like to be able to answer the question: “What’s wrong with your voice?” Some knowledge about what is wrong would be a fit reward for the patience and understanding of my friends.
  3. I am keen to either fix the problem or accept it and get on with my life.

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