Why is it so difficult to understand the announcements in Flemish train stations?
Here are the thoughts of a voice geek while taking the train on a sunny sunday…
The voice of the announcements in Flemish train stations is using Neutral with air, with a low larynx. This way of speaking is used quite often by women in Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. It’s a cultural thing. For example, a lot of our female TV and radio presenters use this soft, friendly and warm sound. In the past more than now, but still… “Friendly and warm” sounds good, huh? Well, not exactly… The announcements need to cut through disturbing noises like fellow travellers or shreeking train breaks. Neutral with air lacks twang, an important element for a voice that needs to be present, ringy and clear. A voice with a very little amount of twang disappears completely into the other sounds, no matter how high you turn the volume up. This means that the travellers won’t be able to hear the announcement clearly. Something that frustrates me on a regular basis…
So, next time you try to understand the announcements in a Flemish train station and you don’t succeed… Don’t blame your ears. Blame the person that booked this voice for the job 😉
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