18 November 2011

Baby talk on BBC daytime television?

As our dog likes watching television (day and night), she sometimes introduces me to the wonders of daytime TV.

In one of these shows - BBC's Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is - the random intonation of the unseen presenter's voice struck me as being bizarre enough to be worth a quick trawl through YouTube for a specimen:


My researches also led to a TV Guide, where the first comment on the show was headed 'Rubbish voice over'. Others included:
  • Still same rubbish, inane voice-over on this new series.
  • Childish voice over.
  • Can anyone do anything about the patronising and childish commentary?
  • An interesting programme which is spoiled each day by the childish voice over and empty nicknames.
So I wasn't alone in thinking that there was something odd about the commentary. Nor was I altogether surprised that some were describing the stresses on random words and intonational shifts up and down as 'childish'.

But I'm not completely convinced that it's quite the same as 'baby talk' or 'motherese' (HERE), which is supposed to help infants in language acquisition. That presumably involves exaggerating stress and intonation in ways that are relevant to the context and the particular words being used - which is not, as far as I can hear, the case with the voiceover in this show.

The only possible explanation I've been able to come up with is that he has perhaps been coached by the same person as Robert Peston and Rory Bremner:


1 comment:

Natalie Minnis said...

It's hilarious, but on a more serious note it's part of the reason why I hardly ever watch TV these days. Several years ago I started to get the feeling that a lot of the programmes were aimed at not just pensioners but senile pensioners. It started with Ground Force. When I hear those ridiculous tones I just have to switch off.

Actually Robert Peston's not so bad - I don't find his voice particularly patronising - just very odd.