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As per my previous question on giants, if the average human is 5′10″, and he is scaled up to 50 feet whilst remaining proportionately correct, would this have any effect on what he sounds like?

I'm particularly interested in whether it would have any effect on the overall sound and loudness of his voice, but if there's anything else, that would be nice to know too.

To reiterate, what does having a larger set of vocal chords do?

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    $\begingroup$ Probably "ARCHGHH GAH GURGLE" as the cube-square law crushes him to death. $\endgroup$ – imallett Apr 27 '17 at 6:00
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    $\begingroup$ Is this giant a human who was magically (or otherwise) enlarged, or a different species who evolved separately? $\endgroup$ – BobTheAverage Apr 27 '17 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ @BobTheAverage he was just a normal boy but he ate all his beans and asparagus $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 27 '17 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ It would sound like "FEE, FI, FO, FUM" of course. But it would be more hilarious if it were shrill and squeaky. $\endgroup$ – Nathan Apr 27 '17 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ Very much like thunder, I suspect (in volume, pitch, and comprehensibility). $\endgroup$ – kmote Apr 27 '17 at 22:43
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Ignoring the killer Square-cube Law, larger vocal cords would result in a much deeper voice. Average Human vocal cords are 1.5 to 2.5 cm long. Typical frequencies for the human voice are 110 Hz to 310 hz with numerous harmonics.

With vocal cords, 8.5 times the size of an average human, the giant's voice may actually be so low as to be difficult to understand. If we make a rough approximation with the vibrating string equation

$$f_1=\frac{v}{2L}$$

We can calculate the speed that wave propagates on human vocal cords with a frequency of 110 Hz and vocal cords 2.5 cm long. We get 5.5 m/s. Now applying that speed (assuming similar composition and setup in the mouth so waves propagate at the same speed) to at 8.5 times larger version we get a frequency of 13 Hz. That is below the human hearing range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

Now, the human voice is generated by a whole series of complex interactions between not just the vocal cords, but the chest, throat and nasal cavities. There is all sort of resonances (even factors of the base frequency) at play too. But given that everything is bigger it's safe to say that when the giant is speaking they may be very hard to understand because some their vocal range is going to fall beneath our hearing range. Also, generally speaking, larger objects oscillate more slowly when excited. All we may end up hearing is a rumble from other parts of their bodies vibrating as a result of the speaking.

Also as Kilisi Pointed out, their voice would be considerably louder than ours due to a larger volume of air.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Apr 28 '17 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ Giants could probably hear lower frequencies as well, right? $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Apr 28 '17 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @PyRulez it would have to be very loud for them to hear anything I would think. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Apr 28 '17 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ I'd figure they would hear at lower frequencies too, as their cochlea and stereocilia would be proportionately larger (and thus resonate at lower frequencies), so they'd have no problem hearing one another. $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Apr 28 '17 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ It's weird to think that a giant would have to speak in falsetto just so we could hear them. $\endgroup$ – Wayne Werner Apr 29 '17 at 6:23
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The voice will be deeper due to the length of the vocal cords. size of the cords vibrating across the larynx determine the pitch, around 120 Hz in men and 210 Hz in women. This is the fundamental frequency.

I haven't attempted calculations but your giants voice might even be too low to be heard properly at that size. The lower range of our hearing is around 20 hz.

In terms of loudness I would expect the decibels to be much greater, so much louder due to the volume of air being used to vibrate the vocal cords. But if it's below our range of hearing it would be felt rather than heard.

I don't think we could have a conversation unaided with this giant, his/her voice would be too loud and low, and ours wouldn't be loud enough.

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The voice will be much much deeper. Look at real-world giants, who are nowhere near that large. I recall seeing one of the tallest living women on TV, and she has a voice that’s deeper than normal men, and she is mistaken for a man on the phone.

Look at a double-bass vs cello, viola, and violin. Bigger means lower frequency. A string 8.5× longer has a proportionally lower frequency, which puts it just below the normal range of hearing. OTOH bigger muscles means tighter string, which raises the frequency. You could use this to handwave the voice being deep but still understandable. At least, if he talks in falsetto so puny humans can hear it.

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If the giant is simply a scaled human, then the other answers show how they would sound. But if we allow some modifications to their vocal cords, for example dividing them so that instead of one large set, they will have many human-sized vocal cords, then we may be able to make them sound just like (very loud) humans.

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    $\begingroup$ Kind of like whale song. $\endgroup$ – Paul Apr 27 '17 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ For that matter, giants might use falsetto to a much greater degree than humans, or have other forms that humans don't. Men can often extend their vocal range with falsetto more than women can, and it would seem plausible that giants might be even more capable. $\endgroup$ – supercat Apr 27 '17 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ @supercat Do you mean that those with the larynges sunken deeper — i.e. the masculine secondary sexual characteristic — can offset more with falsetto, or that the end is at a higher frequency than those whose larynx has not sunken as much or at all from where it was pre-puberty? $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Apr 27 '17 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ If they had many vocal cords, could they make multiple sounds at once? Which would make their speech even less comprehensible. $\endgroup$ – freedomn-m Apr 28 '17 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ @can-ned_food: I don't know the physics and physiology of falsetto, but I think it probably has something to do with suppressing lower resonant frequencies so that only upper harmonics come through. I think it typically suppresses odd harmonics so as to emphasize octaves, but a larger creature may be able to suppress those that aren't multiples of 3 or 4. $\endgroup$ – supercat Apr 28 '17 at 14:55
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Keep in mind that while others say it would be deeper, its likely other giants would hear sound different from humans so they might just interpret the sound emitted by a giant as we do hear a human speaking, and therefore we have pretty high pitched voices compared to those big guys.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh really? Could you elaborate more on this? $\endgroup$ – Recelica Apr 27 '17 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ For some reason this reminded me of Peter Pan, where humans can only hear sounds like little bells when fairies speak. Perhaps to a giant, we sound something like that :) $\endgroup$ – Jane S Apr 29 '17 at 2:16
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Other answers have described how longer vocal cords will vibrate at lower frequencies. This shows that a longer cord would mean your giant speaks with a deep, booming, lower frequency voice.

But that fails to take into account that your vocal cord isn't just lengthening. It is simultaneously thickening. If your giant doesn't adapt, but just "expands" in three dimensions while maintaining the same proportions as a normal human, I'd wonder if the cords would vibrate at all. Or would they be too thick to get vibrations and just be unmoving flesh?

The other issue your giant would face is that making human vocal sounds isn't just vibration of the cords. As others have stated, there is a vast, complex set of motions involved to modulate the tones. This involves rapid changes to the jaw, tongue, etc. Your giant would have to move the tongue far faster than a human to make the same speech patterns, given that each moving part would have to travel much farther to make the shape changes.

So your giant, if it could make sounds at all, would probably talk much slower, since it's mouth simply can't re-shape itself fast enough to match human vocal patterns.

If it evolved this way from some pre-historic proto-human, then it's language would be so radically different from human language, we might not even realize it was a language and not just some weird, random, slowly changing sounds. If it was a human that magically, suddenly, grew to massive proportions, it would struggle to even begin to talk and would probably take a long time between the growth phase and re-mastering how to use it's new mouth and voice correctly.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes! Based on both neurology and physics, it's a safe bet that an 8x as tall giant would take about 8x as long to articulate each syllable. Speech mechanics seem to top out at about 4 English words per second for humans, so a fast-talking English-speaking sales-giant would bore us at one word every 2 seconds. $\endgroup$ – lauir Apr 28 '17 at 19:46
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IMHO, other interesting things to consider is this one:

  1. As everybody said, a giant's voice will be generally deeper.
  2. This means the frequency is lower.
  3. Now... when a sound penetrates a material, the higher the frequency, the more it is attenuated.
  4. So, this means that a giant's voice will be more likely to be heard across a large wall than a human's voice.

This, I don't know, could add something interesting to your world. For instance giants could be talking to each other when they are in different caves inside of a mountain, while smaller beings could not.

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Due to the huge amount of air expired, there would be a lot of parasitic noise. For example, the breathing would be at least heard 50 meters around. Each time he would speak, air would whistle on his teeth like wind in rocks.

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    $\begingroup$ Why do you think there will be a lot of parasitic noise? $\endgroup$ – kingledion Apr 28 '17 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ As I said, breathing and whistle. Can you only imagine the noise made by a 18 meters high giant scratching his beard ? $\endgroup$ – chd May 1 '17 at 17:05

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