Readers of the SuperStar Communicator blog will know that a regular topic is accents and speaking clearly. I’ve also had a number of conversations with clients and contacts about Kate Middleton’s accent from when she burst into the scene in 2010 when she was engaged – and first spoke in public.
Like many people – including old friends of Kate’s, I was struck by how POSH she sounded, but more than that, how old fashioned she sounded. Women of her age group just don’t speak like her. The media was buzzing with disbelief at how she spoke! She kept working at her elocution lessons and here is a video of her first solo speech.
I have every admiration for the duchess. Not only would I not like her ‘job’; the constant scrutiny in the limelight about her clothes, weight, pregnancy, but also how she speaks and behaves. Whenever she attends an event, it is memorable for everyone there as it is an occasion they will never forget. The expectation must be so high to ‘perform’. Everyone wants to hear her speech as well as take a photograph and of course it means so much for everyone attending.
It must have been nerve-wracking for her, appearing on national television, when her engagement was announced. And I’m not surprised she had elocution lessons and coaching before appearing on the TV programme. At the time I was surprised at how clipped her speech was; how enunciated she spoke. It didn’t appear relaxed or natural. Some sounds, particularly the ‘sss’ sound were over spoken.
Although she has delivered a number of ‘solo’ speeches now, including the video clip above, her speech is still quite stilted. I wondered why her voice coach hadn’t modified this further to let the words flow more freely. Then I had a light bulb moment, and realised she is speaking PERFECTLY for her role. The Duchess is an international figure and not everyone understands English unless it is spoken clearly and slowly. Kate’s “impeccable” diction and speed of speech makes it easier for most people to comprehend what she is saying. An important foreign visitor who is greeted by the Duchess wouldn’t understand standard TOWIE speech or indeed MIC with the distinctive drawl.
I have chosen some examples of English spoken in other accents, to illustrate how difficult it is for people to understand if they are non-English speakers (as a first language).
Made in Chelsea Despite an expensive education and lifestyle, I have difficulty working out what they are saying. No doubt this is a tribal thing: if outsiders can’t understand them, no-one will try and infiltrate them.
The Only way is Essex Are they speaking English? And the use of English UGH!
Steven Gerrard Foreign football fans need subtitles to understand what he’s saying. Although in fairness, he’s been working on his diction and grammar in the last couple of years.
Wayne Rooney what I find most depressing is that despite extensive vocal and communications training, he’s still incomprehensible.
It’s not just British people that fail miserably: Miley Cyrus has always spoken too fast, with no diction. It is impossible to understand her.
Yet some people with strong accents, are still comprehensible to others. Bill Shankly has great diction. I just LOVE the way he speaks and LOVED it when he was on the television as a child.
Although I’m not a fan of the Duchess of Cambridge’s accent, per se, I appreciate that her style of using clear diction and speaking slowly is perfect for her role. Indeed the country regard both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge a great draw for the country, and they must be able to appeal, and communicate with many different people. So good luck to them both, but particularly Kate.