Why Americans Are Loud

by Maureen on January 12, 2013

american aren't intentionally loudI know you’ve heard it said heaps of times and maybe you’ve even said it yourself, “Good Lord, those Americans are loud!”  Okay, I’ve said it too and well…  I’m an American as well as an Australian.  I know it’s fun to slam Americans when they’re silly and I do a fair amount of that myself.

We do have a rule in our house.  The words you and Americans can never be used together.  You can probably guess why.

At a recent dinner party, the host said something about meeting an American the day before and without thinking I said, “How loud was he?”

Andrew looked at me and said, “He wasn’t loud, he was American.”

I wrinkled up my face and said something really clever like, “huh?”  I’m really good friends with his wife but it was the first time I’d met Andrew and I’m sure I made a great impression.  Andrew lives in Sydney, has lived all over the world and as a young man spent a long time studying acting.

“Maureen, Americans aren’t “loud” it’s how you speak,” he said.

Even more confused than ever, I took my wine glass and my chair and moved so I could sit next to him and not be interrupted.  It seems that in acting school one of the things you need to learn are accents so you can qualify for all sorts of different roles.  I think I must have known this intuitively but when Andrew explained how it worked I was intrigued.

“Americans talk through the back of their mouths.  It’s why they have Rs and accents are not as important as HOW they speak.”

“Please explain?” I asked.

He went on in detail about how Australians talk through the front of their mouths.

“Notice how little our lips move and we talk rather softly because of that,” he told me, “and we’re used to this volume as it’s how everyone talked when we were kids.  We didn’t have Americans in our classrooms or in our homes.”

Americans speak from the backs of our mouths so we have, for lack of a better term, megaphone mouths.  We’re not talking loudly, we’re just talking and it comes out loud because of how we talk and it’s not that we’re turning up the volume.

I instantly felt better about all the times I’ve cringed in a restaurant when a group of Americans were talking over everyone.  They’re not yelling, they’re talking and they don’t realize they’re louder than people who talk from the fronts of their mouths.  They’re used to talking around other Americans who all talk the same way.

Now to be fair, I have no scientific knowledge if this is true but it makes really good sense when I think about it.  Andrew lived in the US for a while and he kept saying phrases with an American accent and then said the same thing with his normal Australian accent and the volume difference was striking.  He said he wasn’t increasing the volume, only changing where the sound came from.

Try it.  Talk with the front of your mouth and then open your mouth and talk from the back.  I’ll never bitch about a loud American again and I will be careful when in a crowd to talk from the front of my mouth.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

rhubarb whine January 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm

That’s what we call using our ‘teacher voice’. It carries well. My husband is very familiar with my teacher voice 😉

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Maureen January 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

And did you have to learn to talk from the back of your mouth or did it just come?

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Amanda January 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Maybe that’s why my eldest daughter yells everything. She shares our conversations with everyone within a 100 metre radius – whether they like it or not – & I’m constantly asking her to speak more quietly.

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Cheryl January 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I work in a nursing home, and often find myself yelling to someone who has the bad luck of being the person I’m talking with right after talking to the half-deaf guy.

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Maureen January 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

LOL I’d love to see it 🙂

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Lucy January 13, 2013 at 2:32 am

Great to know. I’ll explain that to folks next time I’m apologizing for my ugly American brethren when they are being loud and obnoxious. I cringe when I witness this behavior inside and outside of the states. Somehow I don’t think it will change folks less than stellar opinion of us Americans.

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Maureen January 13, 2013 at 7:23 am

Ever since I had this conversation I notice how people are speaking. There IS a difference and it’s comforting to me as an American living in a front speaking mouth country that I wouldn’t stand out in a restaurant in the US. 🙂 (I am very aware of this and I’m never loud.)

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Simon Hunter September 19, 2013 at 5:50 pm

They are not only loud but highly narcissistic and arrogant. . . especially the women with big mouths ( often full of gum) screeching like banshees and full of their own self importance. Americans have a real problem . . .it’s all ‘look at MEEEEEEEEEEE’ . . .am I important or WHAT???? Avoid like the plague. . . .

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Maureen May 27, 2014 at 8:45 pm

I am an American and I’d much rather be narcissistic and arrogant rather than rude and abusive like you any day of the week.

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Someperspectivehere March 8, 2014 at 5:00 am

Well, I’m definitely American but I am very soft spoken. I’m also shy and introverted and most people seem really, really loud to me.

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Elizabeth May 27, 2014 at 5:44 pm

This is a generational thing. My parents are incredibly loud (and deaf). I am a Californian with standard west coast accent living in Australia and if I had a dollar for every time someone told me to speak up..

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Maureen May 27, 2014 at 8:43 pm

I don’t speak loudly either but when I read that, it definitely made sense. I can sit in a restaurant in Mooloolaba and tell you when an American comes in. Americans are wonderfully friendly and warm for the most part and would never be intentionally rude.

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