Monday, May 30, 2016

Glottal Start

A curious consequence of some recent binge watching - starting with BSG, and just finishing up Netflix's offering of Agents of Shield - has been noticing a single peculiarity of bad acting. It probably has a name in linguistics, but I am calling it a glotttal start.

If you've ever known a Manhattanite, you know one iconic American example of the glottal *stop*: when the name of the island is pronounced, the two Ts are a stop. "Manha'en."

The glottal is when the throat closes, and when this occurs at the opening of a word beginning with a vowel, it emphasizes the sound. Instead of riding a speaker's breath, it is pushed out. A harder sound.

For *every* (notice the emphasis here - you can read it as a glottal start) vowel-opening word to be *emphasized* *is* *unnatural* sounding. And, of course, now I'm hearing it everywhere. Indeed, an actor allowing a vowel opening to be - well, *open* - is almost exceptional.

Yet, even in fairly dramatic moments in reality, we don't use the glottal start that comprehensively. And so, in performance, a soft reading can be stronger than physical emphasis.

I'm beginning to class the glottal start with the inexperienced actor's bend-at-the-waist/wring-the-hands school of conveying drama.

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