While we tend to equate nasality with New Yorkers, this issue is not just their problem. It is found in many parts of the United States and Canada as well. In the English language, there are 3 sounds known as nasals which should vibrate in your nose. They are the n, the m, and the ng sounds. Notice that true ‘nasal’ sounds are all consonants.

What this means is that any word with one or more of those sounds will vibrate in your nose (although it should not be excessive). The words finger, nice, and marry are examples of words that have a nasal sound.

The problem with excess nasality is that vowel sounds are being sent up through the nose irregardless of whether there is a nasal in the word or not. The vowel sounds most often affected include words with the long e and the long a (feat, fate). While it can be found anywhere in North America, there are pockets throughout the continent where this is common such as Detroit, Philadelphia, and even Mississauga, Ontario.

It is not just the long e and a sounds that are the culprits. There is another vowel that affects many in our Midwest states, an area generally considered void of any accent or dialect. That sound is the short a and is heard in words like dad and flat.

What is interesting about enunciating a vowel as if it were a nasal is that the soft palate is being lifted up in order to accomplish this task. That is incorrect. The soft palate, also known as the velum, should be relaxed and down even if you are enunciating an m, an n, or an ng. If you find the back of your tongue humping up in the rear of your mouth when you say certain words, then you are lifting your soft palate which is an open route to your nose.

If you want to test for nasality, pinch your nose closed and read the following sentence.

Pat said this is a good way to hear how your voice sounds.

You should have felt your nose vibrating only on the word sounds. If you found other words vibrating, you are talking nasally; and, the twang or whine is annoying to your listeners, reminiscent of nails on a blackboard.

You can change this habit with practice and the retraining of your inner ear.

Author's Bio: 

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.

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