Hey guys! What’s up? It’s Julie. And today I want to talk about YouTube voice.
So the other day, I was watching this YouTube video from the PBS Idea Channel about whether Ron Weasley from Harry Potter is really a time-traveling Dumbledore (as you do), and I realized—the guy talking sounds exactly like the Vlogbrothers. The Vlogbrothers are John and Hank Green, and their combined YouTube channel, on which they post videos of themselves musing on and explaining everything from world politics to farts, has more than 2 million subscribers.
And the guy in the PBS Ronbledore video—Mike Rugnetta—was talking just like the Green brothers do. It wasn’t a matter of their accents, or the sound of their voices, it was the way they were talking. The only word that came to mind was … bouncy.
I found more examples in other popular YouTube channels. Tyler Oakley does it. Franchesca Ramsey does it. Hannah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen does it (when she’s not drinking, or using weird voices). This Game of Thrones fan-theory guy does it.
But I had a hard time putting my finger on exactly what “it” was, beyond a vague sense of similarity. So I asked a linguist.
Naomi Baron is a professor of linguistics at American University who studies electronically mediated communication. She watched some videos that I sent her, and was very patient with my continued pleas of, “No, but I feel like something is going on here.” And so here, thanks to Baron, are the linguistic components of YouTube voice: