ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Be A Ventriloquist

Updated on August 23, 2010

Ventriloquism is an ancient art of vocal and visual illusion, the production of speech and other sounds which appear to emanate from a source outside the speaker's person. Ventriloquial words are formed by retracting the tongue and moving only its tip, the voice being expelled from the slightly opened mouth. As the breath is released slowly through the glottis, narrowed by the retraction of the tongue, pressure is created, diffusing the sound. With the narrowed glottis muffling the tone, the illusion of distance increases in ratio to the degree of pressure built up when the mouth is nearly closed and the tongue retracted. These facts are contrary to the erroneous assumption that ventriloquial sounds originate in the abdominal region and are produced while the performer is inhaling, an assumption which- may be partly due to the Latin roots of the word "ventriloquism" (venter, "belly" or "paunch," and loqui, "spoken"). The use of a ventriloquist's dummy, with moving lips operated by the ventriloquist and timed to coincide with the ventriloquist's speech, completes the speech and sight illusion. Pantomime is also used to create the auricular and optical illusion that sound is emanating from an area or object some distance from the ventriloquist, whose lips remain immobile.

The art of ventriloquism is presumed to have been handed down from person to person, although its precise origin is lost in antiquity. Archaeological studies trace ventriloquism to early Hebrew and Egyptian civilizations. It is also presumed that certain members of ancient priesthoods were practitioners of the art of voice diffusion. Tradition has it, for instance, that miraculous sounds of warning issuing from the stone of the River Pactolus in Lydia repelled thieves who were bent on stealing the golden sands of that stream. The speech of the Greek oracles and the speaking statues of the Egyptians give further credence to this theory of ventriloquial priestcraft. Among the ancient Greeks, Aurycles of Athens has been identified as a master of ventriloquism and leader of a group of practitioners referred to both as Eurycleides and Engastrimanteis ("belly-prophets"). India and China are areas in which ventriloquism is a familiar art. The Eskimos, Zulus, and Maoris are among contemporary peoples of relatively primitive cultures among whom skilled practitioners of ventriloquism may be found.

Generally defined in the entertainment field as a form of conjury, ventriloquism continues to provoke mystery and call forth controversy. The point at issue is whether the ventriloquist throws his voice or whether this is an optical illusion which the artist creates by immobilizing his lips while speaking and effectively directing attention to the supposed source of the sound. At variance with the optical illusion theory is voice diffusion as practiced by birds and animals. The chickadee creates distinct ventriloquial effects by its note. A species of rabbit in Canada uses a high-pitched sound reputedly impossible to locate and capable of deceiving the rabbit's enemies as to its whereabouts. In further refutation of the optical illusion theory is the fact that dogs, in spite of their sensitivity to sound, seek the source of a ventriloquist's voice at the distant point from which it appears to emanate, and not in the person of the ventriloquist himself.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)