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When You're Mispronouncing A Word, Define It.
Comprehension Makes A Big Difference ...
April 28, 2017

By Hugh Klitzke
Casting Director and Coach

If you are mispronouncing a word in a voice over script - ask yourself:

Do I really understand what the word means in this context?

  • Can I define this word in my own language? (Totenkopf? Well, it's actually the emblem on the German cavalry rider's hat which then became synonymous with the hat itself).
  • If I am mis-pronouncing a proper name - do I know who they are or what they did or what they look like? 
  • If it's a brand name - have I heard other spots with that name? (Fage, Llaollao, Siggi's Dairy and Frucht Quark are all yogurts. Dannon, anyone?)
  • What is this disease I'm supposed to say? Is it named after a person? Or is it named after the area it's afflicting? (Crohn's Disease is named after gastroenterologist Burrill Bernard Crohn. Hence the possessive).  
  • If the word is in Elvish or Swedish or Spanglish or "whateverish" - what are other words that I might have heard of? (The name of the Elves' language was repeatedly changed by Tolkien from Elfin and Qenya to the eventual Quenya).
Comprehension makes a big difference and can only add confidence.

Hugh P. Klitzke is studio manager and voice casting director for a leading bi-coastal talent agency, who in more than a decade has directed over 115,000 auditions for all voice over genres. Based in New York City, he is also a coach specializing in teaching voice over for actors, and blogs at, a twice-weekly blog with helpful voice acting tips.  



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Comments (2)
Howard Ellison
12/15/2017 at 6:45 AM
Good research tips, Hugh, really helpful. I want to test them on this one: meningococcal meningitis serogroup C. To be in an Authoritative, Approachable, Corporate but Believable tone of course.
Well, this biz is not all talk - we learn something new every day!
Howard Ellison
4/28/2017 at 9:06 AM
Wrestling with the unfamiliar is among the joys of the job. For example, put your chops around 'Etic' and 'emic'? Whassat? Turns out to be an interesting concept around how we choose to build knowledge of, for example, a community. We can measure, study, define and write a report... or we can go among them, share their hopes and fears, eat their foods, immerse in their music-making etc.

I knew none of that until a brainy script sent me scurrying off to Wikipedia. That made it evident the idea fits with developing our crazy craft, too: we can read what's been written about it, or rub shoulders with others who actually do it - which of course includes the best coaches!

In terms of etic/emic (fortunately easy to pronounce!) the ideal I believe has to be a combined approach.
Oh, what a lot we learn, and I agree with Hugh: if we think into the meaning we offer up a better product.
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