June 11th, 2010
I asked on Twitter, but nobody seems to know the answer with any certainty, so my guess is that there isn’t one. There’s a funny voice that people do, usually for cute and/or annoying animal-like characters in cartoons and movies. A partial list of these characters includes: Glomer from the Punky Brewster cartoon, The Shmoo from various Hanna-Barbera disasters, Gizmo from Gremlins (that’s a falsetto version), Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, Bibble from the various Barbie Fairytopia movies (what? some of those Barbie fairies are hot). I want to know if there’s a technical name for this kind of voice, maybe something from a dark corner of a linguistics text, and I want to know what’s happening in my cranio-facial blabbitybloo when I do it.
Twitter responded to me with a few facts and theories: this might be hypernasality, it might also be a pharyngealized nasalized falsetto, the talent is not limited to men (though I can’t think of a female example in a movie or cartoon). It feels like making an R sound but more so. Something with the soft palatte?
Why is there not a written history of this technique and all its practitioners? We haven’t even invented a name for it? What is the internet good for if not for this?
I need an answer people.