Languages I Don’t Speak — But I’m Happy Voice In Them!

rodeDespite me recording prompts in Spanish almost every day, I don’t technically speak Spanish. Or Hebrew, Tagalog (an Austranesian language spoken in the Philippines) or a host of other languages which I’m urged, cajoled, or persuaded into voicing.

I studied Spanish for two years at the University of Calgary, out of a necessity to accomodate American clients requiring bilingual prompts. I soon tired of the academic, formalized approach (who’s up for conjugating verbos?) and looked into other venues of instruction — all the while, working with a Spanish vocal coach who was incredibly helpful in honing a fairly convincing accent. I looked into Berlitz (the right one-on-one approach based in a conversational style; prohibitively expensive.) I’m continuing self-study until I find a program that fits.

And as for French — which I’m commonly asked about — it was mandatory for a fragment of grade school, and after that — much to my chagrin — I never pursued that elective. It’s not widely spoken here in Western Canada, but the demand for me voice prompts in it is frequent, and it’s one of my big regrets that I never picked it up.

In the meantime, I did some prompts in Hebrew for a wonderful charitable food distrbution company — it took a couple of phone patch sessions to Jerusalem, but I managed to nail the often tricky pronunciations — that rolling “CCCHaaa!” sound from the back of throat is not commonly used here on the Canadian prairies. A conferencing company hires me to voice prompts in Somali almost daily, and with the right pronunciations guides (and the occasional sound file of the client intoning it to me), I’m happy to say that I’m capable of pulling off a lot more than I thought I could. Like an opera singer, required to sing in languages in which they are not necessarily fluent, it is possible to accomodate some non-native language requirements — with the caveat, always, that if they are after an authentic, native speaker — they would probably be wise to outsource it elsewhere.

Next blog post, I’ll answer a question I’m frequently asked: “What *won’t* you voice?” Find out what’s on my “never do” list!

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