A scholar’s study suggests that adults can acquire foreign accents more readily than thought.  They just need their teachers to speak to them in an exaggerated sing-song way, like mothers do to toddlers.  And perhaps they need to practice the same way.

On my mission, I hammed up the Spanish accent.  I rolled my R’s like I was the progeny of a rumbling freight train and a Scotch burr, I zhhed like nobody’s business, and my lip v’s would put some parodists to shame.  My fellow missionaries rolled their eyes.

But everyone knew where my fellow missionaries were from. Whereas I caught out a number of Spaniards. A number asked me if I was from Basque country or South America.

I learned singing the same way. I’ve never had a voice coach but I’m pretty decent. Mostly I learned to sound good by mocking opera singers. When you ham up the operatic thing, you soon realize that you actually sound decent if you just back off a little bit. I’ve tried this method on a few men who didn’t think they could sing, and had at least one success.

Mortal life is preparing us for the needs of eternity. We usually think that it is preparing us in baby steps, that the challenges there will be more difficult versions of the ones here. That is probably true in a great many cases. But I wonder if some of what we are going through here is like baby talk. Simplified, but exaggerated.

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