A Linguist Explains Why Popular YouTubers Sound The Same

Illustration for article titled A Linguist Explains Why Popular YouTubers Sound The Same

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for Worth Reading, our weekly guide to the best games writing that doesn’t show up here at Kotaku.


Hey, You Should Read These

Illustration for article titled A Linguist Explains Why Popular YouTubers Sound The Same

Fallout 3 finally made open world games click for me. I’d previously looked at them as make-your-own-fun types of games, while I preferred more directed narrative experiences. But Fallout 3’s ghoulish world hooked me, and I promptly spent more than 100 hours exploring each and every spot in the wasteland. (Same for New Vegas!) Jake Muncy points out how different is to play an open world game, a form of comfort food that players can return to over and over.

Here’s an excerpt:

“This year, I’ve tried something different. Interesting games have come so quickly that I’ve been unable and unwilling to merely plow through the open-world games that caught my intention. Instead I’ve been coming back to them, time and again, over extended periods, to explore them. Every few weeks or so I’ll return to The Witcher or Metal Gear Solid V to complete a few missions, reacquainting myself with these worlds and getting to know their inhabitants a bit better. It’s a slow cartography, maps of imaginary spaces growing in my head, inch by inch.

I feel like this might be the way well crafted open worlds are supposed to be experienced—not as gluttonous binges or narrowly focused rampages, but as long-term occupancies. I’ve found that these games exist more vividly in my mind as I embrace this style of gameplay. They grow in my imagination as they occupy more and more space in my memory. Instead of rushing through them or viewing them as content generators, I abide in them.”

Illustration for article titled A Linguist Explains Why Popular YouTubers Sound The Same

There’s no doubt the most successful folks on YouTube, for better or worse, speak a little...differently. I’ve never seen a close examination of what’s unique about so-called “YouTube voice,” but it doesn’t surprise me if people, consciously or not, stumbled upon new ways to keep people’s attention. Certainly, I speak differently when I’m streaming versus chatting with someone at the bar, but after reading this, I’ve becoming far more paranoid about it!


Here’s an excerpt:

Naomi Baron is a professor of linguistics at American University who studies electronically mediated communication. She watched some videos that I sent her, and was very patient with my continued pleas of, “No, but I feel like something is going on here.” And so here, thanks to Baron, are the linguistic components of YouTube voice:

Overstressed vowels: A lot of the time, people are lazy about pronouncing certain vowels—they’re un-emphasized and neutral, and just sort of hang loosely in the middle of the mouth, making an “euh” sound, regardless of which vowel it actually is. This “euh” is called the schwa. (Hear it pronounced here.) When you make the effort to actually pronounce a vowel that is usually a schwa, that’s a way of emphasizing the word. For example: “If I say the word ‘exactly,’ you don’t really know what that first vowel is. ‘Euh,’” Baron says. “If I say ‘eh-xactly,’ you have the sound ‘eh,’ like in the word ‘bet.’”

Sneaky extra vowels between consonants: Listen to the way Rugnetta says “trapping” at 35 seconds here. “Terraping.” “I’ve added a little vowel between the t and the r,” Baron says. “It elongates the word, it adds an extra syllable to the word, it emphasizes the word. There’s a name for this: epenthetic vowel.”


If You Click It, It Will Play

Oh, And This Other Stuff

  • Austin Walker contemplated the meaning of home, games or otherwise.
  • Jeremy Parish examined the narrative of Metal Gear to explain how Kojima pulled off gaming’s greatest sleights of hand, swapping Snake for Raiden.
  • Katherine Cross praised the way Fallout 4 allows players to move between romantic relationships freely, whereas other games tend to lock you in.
  • Steff Yotka highlighted the times where fashion and games have mingled.
  • Scott Meslow figured out why The Force Awakens’ marketing has been so effective: it’s about you. Who doesn’t have a personal story about Star Wars?
  • Chris Kohler spoke with Street Fighter producer Yoshinoro Ono about his long history with the series, as Street Fighter V closes in.
  • Megan Condis argued League of Legends needs to ditch stats—it’s turning players into assholes and actually discourages better team play.
  • Jake Tucker chronicled the creation of the revolutionary first Rainbow Six.

You can reach the author of this post at patrick.klepek@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.



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