How to Pronounce Words Like a YouTube Celebrity

PewDiePie at work

PewDiePie at work

A few weeks ago I was telling some friends about PewDiePie, a YouTube sensation with over 40 million subscribers. I had never heard of him until watching a Southpark episode last year.

When I told my friends what PewDiePie’s videos are about (they’re videos of him playing video games), they were flabbergasted that he could get so many views and make so much money from it. The best explanation I could think of on the spot was that he is very good at reacting to things. Those things just happen to be video games, but he probably could be reacting to something else instead and people would still be entertained.

Whether or not that’s true, I read a really interesting article today about the linguistics of “YouTube voice.” Apparently there are a lot of similarities in the ways that many of the most popular YouTube celebrities pronounce words and their speech patterns. For example:

  • Elongated or overstressed vowels (“meeellions” instead of “millions”)
  • Extra vowels and hard consonants
  • Changing pace from really fast to really slow and overemphasized

The article points out that these aren’t unique to YouTubers, but they are at least consistent among them. I found that interesting–it’s not just the type of content, the quality of lighting/sound, the editing, or what the person looks like that draws in viewers–it’s the way they talk. There must be something about it that hooks us and keeps our attention. I might have to try some of those methods on my channel.

I should also say that there are two things that all of these YouTubers do that surprise me:

  • They all refer to their audience in plural form (bros, everybody, you guys, etc). But it’s not like people are crowding around the same computer screen to watch these videos. When I watch a YouTube video, it’s just me. Why not make the video seem more personal and just say hi? This is what I recommend to Kickstarter creators.
  • The all use SO many quick cuts. I understand that some editing is needed, but often it seems like they’re intentionally adding cuts just for the sake of having more cuts. It’s like watching a Michael Bay movie of someone’s face. Is that really what viewers want?

Have you noticed any of these things about YouTube celebrities? Which of them engage you and why, and which of them don’t?