When we hear the word nasality, we tend to think of New York City and her 5 boroughs. Excessive nasality is not limited just to New Yorkers though. You can find various forms of nasality in certain pockets of both the United States and Canada.
If you are from Philadelphia, Detroit, or Mississauga (Ontario), there is a good chance that both your long e (he) and long a (day) sounds are enunciated through your nose. If you live in the Midwest, it is likely that you send your short a sound (gas) through your nasal passages; and, if you hail from Texas, you probably have a twang, sending many of your non-nasal sounds where they do not belong.
In the English language, there are only three sounds that should vibrate in your nose and they are referred to as your nasals: the m, the n, and the ng sounds. What this means is that any word you say with any of those letters or sounds will vibrate in your nose to some degree – words like Maine, plan and ring.
The problem with excessive nasality is that you are sending more than your ‘nasals’ through your nose and that is why you may have a whiny sound or a twang.
The good news is that nasality can be eliminated with a bit of practice and the retraining of your inner ear.
To see if you are nasal, place a finger on each side of your nose very gently. No pressure. Say the word believe. Did you feel any vibration? Again, just grazing your nose with your fingers, say the word away. Did you vibrate? Now say the word and. Any vibration?
If your nose vibrated on any of the three examples above, you have some nasal issues. If you vibrated on all three sounds, you have serious nasal issues.
The technique for eliminating nasality is to learn to place your voice ‘lower’ in your mouth when you speak and can be accomplished with the following exercise.
- 1. Exaggerate your nasality by reading the passage below and sending all of your words up through your nose. It feels like you are going up and over your words. (Yes, it will twang and you will feel silly.)
They believed that the gas was here but it was below the plate of the state.
2. Your next step is to drop your jaw, say the passage again and enunciate your words in the lower part of your mouth. Make sure your jaw is open. It will feel like you are going under your words and it will sound a lot better.
3. By practicing this technique of deliberately sending all of your words up through your nose and then enunciating the same words along the floor of your mouth, your inner ear begins to recognize the difference between the harsh twang and the warmer tones. It is this awareness that is part of the secret of eliminating excessive nasality.
With a little bit of practice you can get rid of your nasal twang and keep your non-nasals out of your nose!
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Voice Dynamic and watch Nancy as she describes how to get rid of the nasal in your voice.