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I'm developing an independent cartoon web series with talking dragons. The designs of the dragons in Spyro (especially the Legend of Spyro) is one of the main influences in how I want my dragons to look. But despite its cartoony nature, I want to take a realistic approach to what their voices would sound like based on the shape of their heads (assuming they have human-like vocal cords).

Here's an example of what they might look like. It's Spyro and Cynder from Dawn of the Dragon.

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Notice the shape of the face. Wide mouth and medium length snout. What would a voice sound like coming out of that kind of face shape? Assuming the pitch stays the same and only the quality of the formants (resonance) change. Would it be deeper than a human's voice? The opposite? Would the basic vowel sounds (ah, eh, eeh, oh, ooh) sound different? If so, what would each vowel sound like? I'm fascinated by how the sound of the voice is affected by the shape of the throat, oral and nasal cavities, so I'm not sure I want to just give them human voices like all the other talking dragons. I'm also just genuinely curious.

Edit: They're about human-sized. The shape of the throat, nasal cavity, and oral cavity would probably be similar to that of lizards or dinosaurs. They also have lips and teeth somewhat similar to that humans, but still clearly not human. I'm just wondering what their voice would sound like if their nasal and oral cavities were longer than those of humans. Also, it's "formants", not formats. If you don't know what formants are, they're the actual phonetic quality of the voice -- that is, the resonance. The formants of the voice would be different if the oral and nasal cavities and throat were bigger, but the pitch would stay the same if the vocal cords were the same size. Pitch is determined by the vocal cords, and the resonance (or formants) are determined by the shape and size of the oral cavity, nasal cavity, and throat.

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    $\begingroup$ Voiceless consonants (such as, in English, p, t, k, f, h, sh, ch and th as in thin) are made without any contribution from the vocal chords; but to make them one needs lips (for p and f) or human-like teeth (for t, ch and th). Lips are also required for b, m, v, and the rounded vowels o and u (usually written oo in English). Reptiles don't have lips. And you may want to clarify the meaning "sound like", using standard physical or musical terms; e.g., what is "deeper" or the "quality of the formats"? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 20 at 3:16
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Scar! I think you really need to specify the internal anatomy more than the shape of the face. You're asking what the voice would sound like, but we can't really answer that until you actually describe the anatomy. You've got a good query, but it needs work! Since you're new, do check out the help center & tour so you can get a better idea what goes on here, and please work on improving your question! In the mean time, I'm going to suggest putting it on hold until additional data can be edited in. After that is done, it'll be reopened pretty easily! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jan 20 at 3:23
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP parrots use their syrinx to make all those sounds without lips (or vocal cords even). Scar, whether they have vocal cords, a compex syrinx setup like some birds, or other means (magic!, vents in lungs/scales, etc) of creating their voice is needed to create an accurate answer. $\endgroup$ – JGreenwell Jan 20 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ Also, size is a big factor. I have no idea how large your dragons are...simply naming a series won't do here... $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Jan 20 at 5:11
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    $\begingroup$ Sean Connery. But not if they're cartoons... We built the A10 around its gun; build your dragons so that they can sound like him. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Jan 20 at 15:58
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Dragon: Squeaky, flamey patois.

In the movies, dragons are big and are given big low voices. That is fine. How could it be different? And especially how can it be different for a way that lends itself to a visual medium like a game.

I can think of 3 ways dragon speech can differ from a humans: pitch, visual effects with speaking and word choice.

  1. Pitch. Anything that vibrates can be used to produce speech sounds. We use our vocal cords but persons who have had laryngectomies can learn esophageal speech - vibrating the epiglottis with air expelled from the stomach. No doubt you have heard people who can burp while talking - same thing.

A dragon is a large animal capable of fast movement and so would have endogenous capability to call out to members of its species.

But let us say this apparatus is not suitable for speaking to humans. Instead the dragons use the biological structures they use to close off their flame production. This would have the following consequences.

A: Flame is hot gas and so much less dense. The dragons, regardless of size, would have voices like they inhaled helium.

B: The vocal sounds are being made with flame. When the dragons speak, little flames will flicker around their mouths.

  1. Word choice. @AlexP as usual puts fine answer material in the comments which I gleefully poach here. Dragons don't have lips. They would struggle with the same sounds that ventriloquists struggle with, because ventriloquists can't move their lips.

https://www.brownielocks.com/ventriloquism.html

  1. The troublesome letters are : B, F, M, P, Q, V and W right? (We won't go into the word extensions yet like "ing" and "able.")

I hate to disappoint you but there is absolutely no way you can say those above letter without moving your lips.

So how do the ventriloquists do it? By sound substitutions and fast rolling over of the troublesome letters so that your brain will fill in automatically the letter..

Dragons are not going to try to do ventriloquism. It will not sound right. They will choose words that do not use those letters. They probably understand the other words depending on how much they talk with humans, but they will not try to say them.

Example: We must fly. A storm is coming.

Dragon: Us take to sky. The thunder is near.

Dragon English will need different words for "fire" and "fly". The fun of this is that phrases in dragon will be very characteristic of dragons and it is easy to follow the rules. Fans of your game will talk to each other in dragon speak and hopefully you can invent some catchy turns of phrase in dragon.

For proper names they will swap in letters as they see fit. - Cynder will be fine but Spyro might be called Skyro. They might decide to call Fabio Sassio. If he objects, they will be content to call him Tootio.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent, somewhat eccentric, pushing the poetic coracle out here. Bonus for reflection on grammar. +1 $\endgroup$ – Hoyle's ghost Jan 21 at 3:11
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What exactly would a talking dragon's voice sound like?

Animal vocalisations evolved as a result of a number of behavioural factors interacting such as kin recognition, dominance/submission, mating displays and dances, differential alarm calls, aiding in coordinating hunting behaviour, play in younglings - perhaps even to lure prey and I'm sure many others.

  • If there's one thing that observing social animals has taught us is a very common thing in the animal kingdom is that they mimic each other's vocalisations.

Many birds are good mimics, for an expert level demonstration see the Lyrebird.

Human mimics are able, with practice to generate an astonishing variety of sounds, not just to satyrise politicians and celebrities as Charlie Hopkinson, but mimicing other animals and birds or this guy, trimphones, the Millenium Falcon, creaky staires when telling ghost stories and then comes the popular (and highly competitive) passtime of beatboxing. There's an interesting paper here on social mimicry in humans and it's effects.

  • All of which goes to demonstrating huge versatility in the way we direct air over our vocal aparatus and focus and mix the resonances within the multiple sinuses, resonance cavities and tubes available. Our coordinated lips, jaw, larynx, throat, soft palate, tongue and the diaphragm and ribcage offer us a huge variety of possibilities.

  • This is to say - it aint what you got, it's how you use it.

Conclusion.

I posit that your dragons would be no different. They may in private have their own language which could be an ugly clucking and clacking, or a whispered susurration as of breeze through aspen, or booming and honking as appropriate. Among humans and other creatures they may adopt tones more familiar to their companions, up to you. Beware though, that during exertion control of the breath muscles may become sloppy because of the urgency of breathing itself. They could sound strained and strange.

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