In the next day or two I’ll sort through the voluminous submissions on the mystery of mid-20th century American Announcer Speak, and then produce a final two or three installments. Next up will be an All Video Highlights dispatch, ranging from a scene of Harry Truman mocking H.V. Kaltenborn’s announcer-speak, to the Dutch and German versions of the same diction, to the story of the voice actor who portrayed HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Today, as entr’acte, a single-entry posting. It’s from a message sent by Joseph Cermatori, a Lecturer in Theater at the New School’s Eugene Lang College in New York. He did me the favor of pointing out a completely fascinating paper that touches on nearly all of the themes readers have mentioned in previous installments. (Those installments are: #1 “Who Was the Last American to Speak This Way?”, #2 “That Weirdo Announcer-Voice Accent,” and #3 “The Rise and Fall of Announcer-Speak: Class War Edition.”)
Here is the introductory note from Joseph Cermatori:
I have been following your inquiry into the disappearance of the pseudo-English "Announcer-Voice" with some interest recently. I'm glad you've uncovered the role mid-Atlantic English had to play in the forming of this accent.
You might be interested to learn that theater scholars, teachers, and historians have had a keen interest in the history, institutionalization, and legacy of this practice of speech. The person who I think had the most to say on the subject was Dudley Knight (1939-2013), whose article "Standard Speech: The Ongoing Debate" will probably provide a wealth of historical data for you, about the origins of Mid-Atlantic speech out of "World English" and "Good American Speech."
In 2011, my colleague Clare Hane (currently at Cornell) and I convened a conference panel on this article for the American Theatre in Higher Education's annual meeting, and found that interest in these matters is still quite vibrant for voice and speech teachers across the country.
Dudley Knight’s article, which is online as a PDF here, is so packed with nuggets that I’m tempted just to block-quote the whole thing. But I’ll let those interested explore for themselves and find things like: