Is that You(Tube)?


Over at the Atlantic,  Julie Beck is on to something that has been bugging me ever since my son discovered ‘YouTubers’ endlessly describing their experiences playing Minecraft. Apart from the relentless use of the word ‘guys’ and the ever-present question ‘This is entertainment?’, the most jarring thing about these clips is the ‘YouTube voice’.
In the article, Beck enlists the help of Professor Naomi Baron, who studies the linguistics of electronically mediated communication at American University to explain the phenomenon.
Baron reduces the YouTube voice to the following oratorical devices:
Overstressed, intrusive and elongated vowels. Elongated consonants and emphasised aspiration.
So basically, it’s the ‘carnival barker’ voice, or as Mark Liberman, from the University of Pennsylvania calls it, the ‘intellectual used-car-salesman voice’. I knew there was something creepy about YouTubers.