Recording Shades of Milk and Honey, pt 1

We had our first recording session for Shades of Milk and Honey last night. I’ve recorded my own short fiction before, but this feels quite different. Part of this is the length.

Most of it is that I’m recording in a British accent.

I have a fairly decent one according to the native speakers I’ve trotted it out for, but I’ve never sustained it for something this long. To keep me on track, we’ve engaged a dialect coach, Rosalind Fell, who is a local British actor. She is flagging when I drift out of RP (Received Pronunciation or BBC English). For the most part that’s when I hit R too hard or the various difficulties with the letter A.

The R is funny. One of the primary components in many Southern accents is a soft or dropped R. Instead of Horror, it’s Horruh.  So on the one hand, that’s a very familiar place to go. On the other hand, I had a speech impediment when I was little which involved not being able to pronounce the letter R.

I was in speech therapy and had it trained into me that this was a sound that one must pronounce. There are still letter combos that are hard for me, like the above mentioned Horror but largely I do the R naturally. Which means that dropping it for an entire novel just feels odd.

The A is entirely different. Sometimes the A is a short A like the American “can” and sometimes it’s pronounced as in “father.”  The problem is that it is seemingly arbitrary.  In “wait until the fancy passed” the first A is pronounced as in “can” the second as in “father.”

The other vowel shifts are easier to manage. Occasionally we also have to correct the emphasis, which is sometimes on different syllables across the sea.

The real fun comes when we hit a word that none of us have ever said aloud. Last night’s stumper was “simulacrum.” I’m happy to report that the dictionary was helpful however, I’ll be taking the link for http://www.howjsay.com/ in to work with me tonight. Lord knows what other words I’ve tossed into the mix.

The other odd bit was that I use the Austen spelling of “shewed” for “showed,” and the speculation is that this was closer to how it was pronounced then.  We decided to give it a modern pronunciation since I’m not doing a period 19th century accent anywhere else.

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