Actors Be Damned! (or: What I Don’t Think)—What Is the Value of (Super) Narrow Transcription?

All actors should learn narrow transcription. And I mean super narrow, with multiple diacritics hanging off of every symbol like crazed Christmas ornaments. All teachers and coaches should employ similarly narrow transcription in all their prepared materials, and whenever taking or giving phonetic notes. They should not water down the detail even when preparing materials for or giving notes to actors who don’t know any phonetics. If these actors can’t handle it, well, that’s just too bad. They should have paid attention in speech class. No. I’m pretty sure some people think that’s what I believe. I don’t. I think […]

Collecting accents

I wrote a thing. Two things, I guess: two short texts for eliciting useful accent samples. Here they are: Dali’s Last Hurrah* What frosty land is this? How was its fate decided? Coal-black mountains loom; Glassy pools reflect their huge, queer forms. A bird-like woman searches slowly through the trees; Flocks of trembling sparrows cluster about blood-red barns. I feel the flashing claws of chalk-white terror rip at my breath. My courage fails. A furious, hoarse voice whispers from the inky shadows, “He knew his duty. We cannot be afraid.” Fighting a fog of sudden nightmare visions— Savage lambs, Fork-tongued […]

Why the Detail Model Had to Go

(Roots, part III) The teaching of any prescriptive speech pattern as some sort of basis or ‘neutral’ will inevitably encode privilege and elitism, alienate actors from nonstandard speech backgrounds, and actively impede the acquisition of accurate and detailed perception and the ability to subtly adapt one’s own speech and accent.     It’s been a ridiculous fourteen months since I last posted. Even worse, at the end of that post, I teased the next part of the story, promising to write soon about Why the Detail Model Had to Go. Better late than never, I suppose. This is that post. […]

Roots, Part II

  The other day I wrote a bit about some of the intellectual and linguistic foundations of Knight-Thompson Speechwork. Today I’d like to write a bit about how Dudley found his way from there to here, as it were, and a bit about why KTS-based speech classes spend so much more time on vocal tract explorations, play, and teaching (the entirety of) the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) than traditional speech classes do.   When Dudley trained as an actor, at Yale Drama in the early 1960s, there wasn’t much in the way of speech training as we’d recognize it today. […]

Roots

I’ve been thinking a lot this fall about the roots of this work. Unitarian Universalists like to talk about roots and wings. Roots ground you, connect you to where you’ve come from and what’s important. They form your support system and give you structure, organization, stability, and sustenance. Wings carry you aloft. They are those things that inspire you, that lift you up and out into the world and into ever widening circles of possibility. Individuals, families, and communities all need both roots and wings to flourish and thrive[1]. I think rich, coherent bodies of work, like Knight-Thompson Speechwork, also […]

The Name of Action

  I studied acting with the great Earle Gister some years back. He was a brilliant man, and his way of teaching and speaking about acting resonated deeply with me. It felt, at the time, like the missing piece of my equipment as an actor. After working with Earle, I still had plenty left to learn as an actor—I don’t think we ever get to the end of that particular road—but I felt somehow complete in a way I hadn’t before. In every acting job A.E. (After Earle), I knew what to do. It’s not that I was never lost […]

Rhoticity, Part Two: Symbol Confusion

  This post is a part two of an answer to a question posed by Kim Mappleswitch. Part one is here. As a reminder, Kim writes: At The High Standards Academy of Dramatic Art (HSADA) we’re required to teach Standard Stage as a basis for learning IPA. I have asked the faculty here how they teach the /ɜ˞/ sound. On one hand – it’s that the tongue tip stays behind the lower teeth and on the other hand it’s that the tongue tip is not on the lower teeth, but rather “floats” because the body of the tongue is slightly […]

The Bird is the Word

Kim Mappleswitch writes: At The High Standards Academy of Dramatic Art (HSADA) we’re required to teach Standard Stage as a basis for learning IPA. I have asked the faculty here how they teach the /ɜ˞/ sound. On one hand – it’s that the tongue tip stays behind the lower teeth and on the other hand it’s that the tongue tip is not on the lower teeth, but rather “floats” because the body of the tongue is slightly retracted. What do you guys think? Rhoticity is a difficult topic and I’d like to have some clarity with this symbol and get […]

Email address!

We’ve just established an email address for the blog. You can now write in with questions to: ktspeechblog@gmail.com We’d love to hear from you. Any question you may have about transcription, exercises, pedagogy, philosophy, linguistic resources, etc.—send them in! (The one area I think we can perhaps leave for other forums is requests for help finding resources for specific accents. Those discussions are probably best had on vastavox or the Facebook page. Let’s leave this forum specifically for questions to do with Knight-Thompson Speechwork, phonetics, teaching, coaching, linguistics, etc. I think that’ll be plenty!) Bring us your questions!

Adding Insult to Investigation

One thing I think we’d like to do with this blog is share ideas for new and fun Omnish exercises. One of us will write a post soon sharing one or two that aren’t in the book. I have also found a need in my teaching, however, for some extra Outlandish exercises. I hesitate to introduce Omnish until my students are thoroughly grounded in the Empty Chart—in all the specific possibilities of obstruent action. But because the Bataan Death March through the Empty Chart can take up to five ninety-minute classes, I have a great need for fun things to […]