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Thursday, July 07, 2016


One of the things I do is listen to people's voices--the words they choose, how they inflect, the rhythm of their speech--and I'm sure lots of other writers do this too. It's interesting to me to study this. Part of it might be my interest in linguistics, but not all of it. After all, listening to people talk is a great primer for characters and the way they speak.

Take our morning call at work for example. Every morning, maintenance runs down all the planes out of service. It's a quick, high-level summary. There's someone who leads the call and then all the stations are asked to check in one by one whether they have an airplane out of service or not.

My favorite facilitator on the call has a warm voice. He greets everyone as if they were all close personal friends, and while maybe some of them air, not all of them can be. He also has a bit of a southern accent, but it's not too heavy. I like listening to him speak.

But he can't do the call every day. Many of those other days are lead by a man I've nicknamed Eeyore. Yes, after the Winnie-the-Pooh character. He's got this monotone, woeful voice. I don't think he's sad, but rather the lack of tonal difference as his speaks. It just sounds so down and I don't find listening to him to be very interesting. In fairness, he has approved some since he was new on the call, but he still has this doldrums voice.

Then there are the other stations. The New York City guys, the Boston guys, the Los Angeles and Seattle and Salt Lake City guys. The foreign stations--Tokyo and London and sometimes Brazil will join the call if there's a plane out there.

I love listening to them all talk. Some of the guys I'd love to meet in person, not to speak with, but just to see if their faces match my imagination. :-) I've created ideas of what they look like in my mind. No doubt none of them look like I image they do and I'd be sorely disappointed. Ah, well. At least I'm learning accents and patterns of speech. If only I were better at conveying what I hear into writing.