Two weeks ago I posed the brilliant question: What are we calling our industry? It was really quite something in case you missed it. There was a cool poll widget and everything. Ah, good times…
Amazingly, this nonsense was picked up by a few other VO blogs on the interwebz and it resulted in a flurry of half-witted responses. Over a hundred people chimed in by voting or leaving comments. You guys are really the best. Anyway, after an appropriately unscientific tabulation, the winner by a landslide was “Voiceover.”
Here is a sampling of comments culled from here, the Boblog and Vox Daily:
“I have always said and spelled it, “Voiceover”. Some have been cute and written it as VOiceover or VoiceOver. I started using Signature Voiceover Actor around 2000 and just last year, shortened it to Voice Actor. Cute or not, we are Voice Actors if we put our character and personality into our reads. If you strictly “read” copy without any emotion, skill or attitude, please do not add “Actor” to the end of your title. That’s only for those of us who MUST read with experience, understanding and grasp the meaning our clients are trying to convey with their written words in order to brand their products successfully.”
“I’ll stand with Merriam Webster and VOICE OVER. I can’t be bothered with hyphens.”
“The Oxford English Dictionary only shows the hyphenated form, so it would be the voice-over industry.”
“First, I consider “voiceover” to be industry jargon and unquestionably correct within that context. Outside the industry, and IMHO from purely a linguistic perspective, I consider “voice-over” to be the correct form as an adjective and “voice over”, with the quotation marks, to be the correct form of the noun for the field. Personally, I prefer voice acting in most cases. Go figure.”
“It should be “voice-over” because you add hyphen when you need to join two (or more) words together to form a compound or single expression. Also, you use a hyphen to join words in a compound expression that is put before a noun. ie: Voice-Over Artist, Voice-Over Actor. But I admit, I write “voice over” all the time.”
“I will be happy to suffer whatever scorn you wish to heap upon me, but voiceover is the term I will use because it’s the one with the least false positives for searches.”
“Personally, I say we are in the voiceover industry. I think most of us actually say it that way. Think about it…we say it as one continuous flowing word with the emphasis on voice – VOICEover; not as two separate words – VOICE OVER. Plus, while the dictionary hyphenates the word, I think they do that whenever a phrase or term has been coined, to fit the usage as understood by the general public. However, in the industry itself, it’s not just a coined phrase, it’s our jargon for what we do, and our spelling would be the official spelling.”
“Not many people now remember that “Voice Over” is short for “Voice Over Film”. The course of most terms in English is to go from separate words (“Base Ball”) to hyphenated words (“base-ball”) to a single word (“baseball”). With all due respect to the dictionary folks, they can only reflect the usage of the public, and must always lag behind the curve. So the historically accurate can use “Voice Over,” those on the cutting edge can use “voiceover”, but the one destined to be dropped as a transitional placeholder is voice-over.”
“Anything but “voiceover,” which is not a word.”
“Dictionaries and spellcheckers reflect, and are not meant to lead the lexicon of any given occupation or endeavor. We are only in the third generation of whatever this thing is. We’re making this up as we go along. When I started teaching voice over in ’74, I remember making up terms for what we do. There were very few terms for what we do. I made lists, borrowing from acting, speech, and music terms, and struggled to come up with terms, attempting to avoid confusion. There are two different areas of nomenclature, which are of interest: What is the category or genre called and what are those who perform the jobs referred to as? Personally, for the genre, in 2009, I weight in with, “voice over JOBS.” JOBS, is less self-aggrandizing than any of the alternatives I can think of. I like “Voice Over PERFORMER” for what I do. Voice Over “ACTOR,” may very well describe what I personally do, and the skills I employ for the lion’s share of voice over jobs I get, but those who narrate, or do promo work, for examples, do more “presenting” than acting. And I do not cite “presenting” as a pejorative. I so wish I had more skills at presenting. Lot of money in promo work, and I stink at it. “Voice Over TALENT” possesses the connotative meaning of possessing formidable skills, and I don’t like conveying that meaning. I find the same problem with using Voice Over ARTIST.”
So what does it all mean? Probably nothing. Surprisingly, I am going to go with the majority and start unapologetically using “voiceover”.1 I think it looks nicer and rolls off the tongue easier than the two word “voice over” and I’m just not really down with the hyphens.2 I trust that now that you have been hipped to my usage it will become de rigueur and those of you who voted otherwise will see the error of your ways. I’m glad we can all finally get some sleep now.
1. Voiceover. Voiceover, voiceover, voiceover! Oh that feels good.
2. I saw a hyphen kill a box full of puppies once. True story.