Snips And Snails

The Loud Talking Gene

When I was a little girl, my mother’s siblings, who were farmers, would sometimes come into “town” from the country and visit. They’d sit around the table and smoke cigarettes and talk. We didn’t see them all that often and so it was always a treat. But the thing that always struck me about their visits is how LOUD they all talked.

I realized at some point that when you live out in the country and you are always trying to communicate over distance, wind and roaring farm machinery that you must talk loudly in order to be heard. And then eventually, that’s just how you talk, you don’t even realize it.


When Sean turned four, he not only began channeling Walter Middy, he also began speaking very LOUDLY ALL THE TIME, just like the country cousins.

Yesterday I heard myself say, “Sean. Dude. We are not out in the country. I’m standing right here. I can hear you. You don’t have to shout.”

And then a terrifying thought occurred to me. What if loud talking is not a result of living out in the country, but… it’s genetic.

What if… Sean inherited a recessive Loud Talking gene from my mother’s people?

Because I definitely have the Don’t Enjoy Loud Anything gene which I got from my father. And that does not bode well for my sanity.


75 thoughts on “The Loud Talking Gene

  1. My son has the same gene as Sean. I have the same gene you have. It may just be a “boy thing”. Unfortunately, that is no help whatsoever. At age 12, I am still constantly reminding him that I am only a few inches from him and can hear him just fine. *sigh*

  2. I’m almost sure that the LOUD TALKING tendency is an aspect of being four. At least that’s what I remember back when we were in a store and my oldest pointed at a man using crutches because he had one leg and said (loudly and in a Seinfeldian manner) “Heeeyyy! Where’s that man’s yeg?” Any word beginning with “l” was pronounced with a “y”. And no, that day a hole in the floor never did open up and allow me to drop through it out of horror, despite repeated petitions for divine assistance. I think the LOUD TALKING thing will pass, but in the meantime the greatest gift you can give him is to teach him to whisper. I know grown people who cannot modulate their voices in a public forum. And it is quite irksome to want to participate in a whispery conversation during a PTA meeting with someone who has no idea how to remove the “voice” part of their speaking mechanism while leaving the breathy part behind. Good luck and Godspeed, John Glenn. (Younger readers may not understand that last sentiment)

  3. Sean definitely hasn’t mastered the whisper thing. We have been trying to teach him to whisper in church, but recently there was this in a breathy yet loud tone during communion: “MOM I GOTTA GO PEE PEE!”

  4. I hear ya! I grew up in a loud family – we were always around extended family, especially at the holidays. It went something like you start talking normal, then you get louder and louder because you want to be heard, then someone laughs and comments on how loud it is, and everyone is quieter. Lather, rinse, repeat 🙂 I LOVED it and I miss it 🙁 However, I am still constantly saying to my kids “Dude, I’m right here! I can hear you!”

  5. When my son was four, I thought the LOUD was just exhuberance. Well, he grew out of the exhuberance but not out of the loud. Funny thing, now that he is 18 he can’t HEAR anything I say in a normal tone or when I yell up to his room. However, if I am two rooms away and whispering to someone about something that is none of his business, he hears just fine.

    My preschool teachers teach the 3 and 4 yr olds to “be quiet like a mouse” when they are in the hallways. “Whisper” can be a difficult concept. Sort of like “sharing”

  6. I’m convinced that the LOUD TALKING gene is attached to the Y chromosome, along with the Must Jump Off Of Everything gene, the Use Mommy’s Knee-Hi’s For Making Dirt Grenades gene and the Eat Pizza For Every Meal gene.

    I’m trying to invent an OFF switch for the Y chromosome.

  7. Jackson has it too. I tell him all the time to turn his volume down. Maybe it really is a boy thing, but Jonathan is not as loud usually.

  8. I too had the country comes to town family. They would also talk loudly, smoke and drink gallons of coffee. They adored conspiracy theories. Because of their loud voices, my mother would make those wild mother faces all the while using her “inside” voice to remind them that “little pitchers have big ears”.

    I still get tickled about the conversations we would have afterwards.

    ” So let’s recap, the moonwalk was fake and pro-wrestling is real??” “Elvis is alive?” ” There are surveillance planes covertly observing the family farm?”

    My poor mother.

  9. I grew up in a loud family. Lot’s of yelling. Maybe that’s the reason, but it drives me crazy to be around loud people, or TV, or anything else.

    Sadly I work with someone who I constantly have to remind that the desk is only 3 ft wide, not 300.

  10. Oh my, I think that I may have a recessive gene for loud talking when on the phone! My husband constantly tells me that I’m talking too loud whenever I use my cell… I’m so relieved to learn that it’s not really my fault, after all- it’s genetic!

    Oh, and all those conspiracy theories are totally bogus. Except the ones about Area 51- that’s true for sure. I saw a special about it on tv- it was on one of those educational channels… I think it was SciFi.

    😉 LeeAnn

  11. Yep, I have one genetically challenged like that too. We like to say that he has two settings, “loud” and “off”. Currently the off-switch appears to be broken.

  12. I take unhealthy delight in telling you it is even worse when their voices change. Boykiddo’s voice thunders deeply whenever he talks to me and I am always squinting slightly and saying “shhhh”.

  13. I have the loud-talking gene, as does my daughter. And her two daughters. Mine has served me well in these past years, though. My husband is terribly hard of hearing now, and I’m his translator! He can’t hear most other folks.

  14. I married into country talkers – loud, loud, loud!! I finally realized that it wasn’t farm noise they were trying to overcome, but each others opinions. They operated on the premise that whoever talked the loudest was right! Being the loudest meant you had the final say! LOL This was very effective when everyone was talking at once – usually about church or politics! Whew!

  15. It happened to one of my sons when he turned four, too. What helped was when someone else told me about ‘outdoor voices’ and ‘indoor voices’. He was always quite a logical child, but it apparently made sense to him that shouting was for outdoors, and quieter talking was for indoors. He didn’t want to stop shouting altogether, and I’m not one for rules and regulations. But a gentle reminder that he should really go outside if he wanted to talk in his outdoor voice was sufficient prompting that he learned to speak quietly when he was inside. Most of the time, anyway.


    You know you’re in for a long day when you’re contemplating asking your doctor for some sort of nerve pill before it’s even 9 in the morning.

  17. My little boy has the same gene. It also kicked in around age 4 and hasn’t stopped three years later. Sometimes I tell him if he doesn’t pipe down, my ears will actually start bleeding. That buys me a few minutes of beautiful silence while he visualizes my horrible ailment.

  18. My in-laws are a loud family and I am an only child. Not a good combination.

    If anyone comes up with a cure let us know.

    I’m just hoping my 19 month old son got his vocal volume control from my side of the family!

  19. Well, at least he is not a close talker, like that one Seinfeld espisode. Actually, now that I think about it – a close talker and a loud talker in one talker would be QUITE overwhelming.

  20. My oldest son is such a quiet talker, we are forever asking him to speak up. But my youngest son, Lord help our poor eardrums!!!! He doesn’t talk loud, he squeals at such a high pitched tone, I swear only dogs are able to hear him!! He may even get so high pitched that it may actually act as one of those tormenting dog whistles (you know the ones that drive dogs insane…)
    So there you go. Who knows if it is a phase….but I pray every day that it is! My poor eardrums can’t take this noise for too much longer.

  21. I just spent last night with my “loud” family. When that branch leaves, those left all pause and say “listen…” and there is silence. We all sigh (audibly) and enjoy the moment. Silence is golden sometimes.

  22. At least he doesn’t have the stick foot in mouth gene or the verbal diarrhea cuz when I stick my foot in it I don’t stop until I’ve made a huge mess.

  23. My daughter has the same gene and she will be 11 in March……I think they think we cannot hear them or are trying not to hear them…so the louder they get……well I think they are just wanting hear themselves talk to be honest.

  24. Let’s get serious here — take him to the doctor for a hearing test. Speaking loudly could be a problem with his hearing. He is a miracle baby, but even they have problems. If he just wants to hear himself talk — get him a Karaoke set.

  25. I always remember my mom telling my youngest brother to “turn down the volume.”

    We have 5 adopted kids. Four adopted as infants and one was 8 when she joined our family. She is loud and her voice carries. I can always hear her when I’m in bed and she’s in the family room at opposite ends of the house—far, far away from each other.
    And she talks constantly. She often asks us why we’re not talking!

  26. Let’s get REAL SERIOUS here, and maybe count our blessings. Able to TALK, and able to HEAR. I’m sure there are children and adults out there that would love to have these two senses, that are so often taken for granted. Do the math…..count your blessings, and enjoy.

  27. OH that is so funny. I’m a little worried that my kids might be the loud cousins…

    And from now on I am definitely referring to the extended family as “my mother’s people”, I love that!
    I’m real serious about that.

  28. I find that I don’t mind so much when the words are something along the lines of “I love you so much, Mom.” It’s a lot easier to take when they’re words you want to hear. That and I’m the reason that they learned to talk so loudly…

    Note to self: When we next meet, put muffle on self so as not to scare AM or Jeana.

  29. Mine have the opposite problem. Mumble mumble mumble mumble. Me: “What?” Mumble mumble mumble mumble. Me: “What?” Mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble. Me: “When I say what you are supposed to talk LOUDER.”

    Or maybe I’m just going deaf. Hmmm….

  30. I also have genetically inherited the loud talker gene. Or maybe I’m just a product of my environment in that I have 3 fairly loud brothers, and my dad has always been deaf in one ear, so he also tends to talk loudly. And I gotta say trying to encourage “indoor” and “outdoor” voices may not work, since I do not seem to possess an indoor voice. Just ask my husband.

  31. When my son was 7 and started talking loudly….I realized not only was he talking loud…….he was reading lips…seems that 3 years of constant ear infections made for lots of built up gook behind the eardrums…….surgery suctioned it out and all of a sudden he could hear again and toned down the volume.

    I have a sister that talks loud always……gets on my nerves…cant stand to be in the same room with that!

    DH has such sensitive hearing…..every door shut sounds like a slam….every cough in the night keeps him up……..yikes…….hard to find an equal balance when everyones together!

  32. Well, throw my 4 year old daughter into this group! Countless times a day, I am reminding her to use her “inside voice”. It works for about 30 seconds!

  33. Here’s my ditto to all those with loud 4 year olds, only my kiddo is getting ready to be 6, and unfortunately I think he’s louder now than when he was four! We have LOUD TALKING and LOUD SCREECHING and and IT’S ONLY FUN IF I BOUNCE OFF THE COUCH AND YELL AT THE SAME TIME about 50 times a day….. and sadly, his almost 3 year old brother has decided that it’s totally cool to do whatever big brother does. So I have it all, times two, these days….

    I just have to say another ditto, this time to boomama about the nerve pills!

    Off to say a little prayer that our baby girl will will choose quiet over loud when she starts talking!

  34. It sure is a gene… My Grandma has it, My mom really has it and sad enough I have it… I try real hard to TALK not YELL, so when my three get going and they reach the yelling point I must say its in their little gene’s… We practice the quit game around here. And we do live in the country so maybe that has something to do with it.

  35. We just came home from being with the fam for Christmas and the four year old cousin’s voice resonated in my ears for days after leaving. Not only is he four, he’s the third child, so he must talk at all times to be sure someone might pay attention to him and when he quits talking, he makes noises.

    You and I are SUCH kindred spirits — I have personal space/ do NOT enjoy anything loud issues, as well. Which a) has been a challenge for parenting pre-schoolers b) makes me question the wisdom of me teaching young elementary grades. However, it has caused me to train my children not to be the loud children.

  36. I come from a family of loud talkers. We are a horrible people. So The Boy is a Loud Talker, too. As is The Baby? But The Girl has this soft, soft little voice and NO ONE CAN HEAR HER. My poor little child. I’m buying her a megaphone.

  37. My fifteen-year-old has this gene. She is forever coming in at midnight when everyone else is asleep and I am reading, and she has to tell me something RIGHT AWAY and it is always important and she will get louder and louder and louder. I will gently shush her, and she will lower her voice for about a milisecond…and then go right back to bellowing at me. She has no idea she is doing it. And…my brother was the same way. So I fear it really IS genetic. LOL

  38. We talk to Sean about inside/outside voice “several” times a day. He just can’t seem to help himself with the extreme exuberance! I remember being told my voice “carries” when I was little. I could tell it wasn’t a compliment. I’m going to try not to say that to Sean.

  39. That explains why my mom talks so loud. She was raised on a farm. I am constantly telling her to bring the volume down a few notches, but it doesn’t help.

  40. AM, I am right there with you with the “personal space issues” and the “don’t enjoy anything loud” gene.

  41. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But that gene is inherited. All 3 of my girls have it. I too was raised in the sticks and hated loud talking. So I tryed not to as I grew older. Only to be haunted by 3 VERY loud girls. One of my girls does not have the ability to whisper. REALLY!

  42. I have the talk loud gene and my poor husband has the doesn’t like anything loud gene. Also 3 of my 4 kids have the talk loud gene. Too bad for him. And no we do not live in the country either.

  43. Great topic. I think everyone can relate to this in one way or another. I had an uncle that can only talk in one volume: LOUD. I swear, if you were in the house next door you could hear him as clear as a bell. Not only was it at a loud volume, it was deep and booming. His laugh was 10 times louder. Made me jump everytime.
    And sadly, I married a loud talker. Poor thing. I’m always telling him to turn his volume down, or the TV down, or the car radio, or to not cough so loud. My oldest daughter inherited it as well.
    I have the “bothered by anything loud gene”. Can’t stand it. I thought I was just odd like that. It’s good to know I am not alone.
    We should form a club or support group. Just need a good name for it.

  44. My oldest son, now age 31 is LOUD. Very LOUD. If we are together an hour I’m sure to tell him at least twice to dial it down. In addition to the verbal request I have this non verbal thing I’ve done since he was a toddler and that is to put my index finger up to my lips and mouth the word shhh.

    I definitely have the cannot stand anything loud gene. I’m forever asking the hubby to turn the TV down, asking my granddaughter to talk a little softer, etc. I also have people constantly asking me to turn up the TV, the radio, the stereo. Hubby has always said I could hear a mouse pee on cotton that’s how sensitive my hearing is 🙂

  45. Oh my gosh, the title alone made me laugh out loud.
    I spend hour after hour after hour saying, “Lower your voice please.” My 4-year-old has a couple of friends who come over and they yell EVERYTHING so, I feel good that at least my kid doesn’t do that. He’ll probably grow up to be a low-talker and get made fun of. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

  46. p.s. do you really say “dude” to your son? Because I thought I was the only one who did that. It’s particularly amusing when he says it back. “Dude, I already told you I want CEREAL, not eggs!”

  47. I thank God for discovering your website, because we know the bible says ‘laughter does good like a medicine’, and you always make me laugh! 😉

    My late dh was Italian, hence my 23yo dd is half Italian. Her mouth is ALL Italian. I have no doubt that loud talking is an inherited gene, and my dd got it! She’s always been tiny, but she can drown out any person in the room. You better get used to it, because it doesn’t go away. 😉

  48. My youngest, poor guy, HAS to be loud, or he won’t get a word in edgewize. And we call each other “Dude” too. I had never even thought about it!

  49. There is definitely a loud talking gene…and my family has it in spades. When my family gets together it is LOUD. We all try to talk at the same time; we laugh a lot and it get progressively LOUDER. My brother’s friends have decided to reclassify the decibel scale. Three (of my family) are equivalent to a 747 taking off.

    Bring your earplugs.

  50. I completely agree, this is not genetic, but inherent to turning 4. Also, I’m uncomfortable with how loud Dora talks. Does she talk so loud because she’s talking to 4 yr olds? Do the 4 yr olds talk loudly because of Dora? Chicken? Egg? Scrambled?

  51. Oh honey – be happy you aren’t married to an Armenian. I love him dearly – and his family, too – but my goodness! They can hollertalk with the best of them!!

  52. The funny part to me is when I want them to talk they do this #$%^%&$%^%$ under their breath kind of thing and you cant hear 3 words, but when I want them to be semi quiet like in a restaraunt or a mall or heaven forbid a library….they talk at the tops of their voices and keep a running commentary about everything they see and hear around them.
    example… we are in a hamburger joint and an ambulance crew comes in closely followed by a state trooper.
    MAMA theres a amalance and a bad boy mama MAMA theres BAD BOYS(too many cops episodes they think cops are called bad boys) Are they gonna ‘rest someone MAMA
    can I ask if they HAVE HANDCUFFS
    I wanna see their lights…Are they gonna take someone away?
    ME- shhhh yes theres and ambulance and a policeman. no they arent here to arrest anyone they are people they have to eat too.
    I really wish for the day when we can go back to living our lives at a lower volume. LOL

  53. Oh I know! Sean and I were in a department store just yesterday and the girl behind the counter had crimson red punk rock going in all directions hair and Sean blurts out in a combination of awe/horror: “Mommy! What happened to her head?”

  54. When I was teaching 4th grade we worked a lot on whispering (e.g. when walking in the hallways). I used to have them feel their throats as they talked. If they could feel vibration, they weren’t whispering. It’s astounding how loud a 10 year old can actually make a whisper, though.

  55. While I can not say this with 100% certainity… I think it’s probably a phase.
    My 4.5 year old goes through this every couple months. He will yell everything for a week or so and then go back to normal.
    Good luck, Mama. 🙂

  56. Oh, my darlin’….you have no idea what the worst can be. My dear mother couldn’t speak beyond a whisper (because of numerous surgeries) and my dear hubby can’t hear a fart..(he was a helicopter pilot for waaaay too long in Viet Nam)..

    So, when Mom came to visit, I spent the entire time “translating”. It was humorous to our kids, but they realized the struggle. In the end, I was exhausted from the effort.

    Today…how do you tell hubby that EVERYONE can hear his whispers?

  57. We forget sometimes how quiet and tame our little guy is. We were reminded of this fact when we had 6 of my family members here from out of state for Christmas. My two nephews (age 6 and 3 1/2) are great boys but they are quite loud in comparison!

    At one point during the visit my son wispered to my husband, “cousins noisy!” and my husband agreed. 🙂

  58. I feel your pain. My 3 year old may have inherited the louder-is-better gene from my Dad. I just pretend I can’t hear her until she is speaking at a less-painful pitch.

  59. I have the opposite problem. My girls talk all the time, but so quietly that I cannot hear them if there are any other children around at all. Before we visited the cousins in July, I actually thought my children were loud.

  60. Yes, it is inherited….my sixteen year old daughter got my mother-in-law’s voice…..very gravely, Rod Stewart, Fran Drescher-like….it was very cute when she was little, but now she knows how to keep it it check….her voice doesn’t bother her…it’s still cute but she loses her voice alot. My youngest brother-in-law and my little niece also have that voice. My daughter loves her grandma and thinks it’s cool to have something like her. It’s sweet.

  61. I’m laughing after reading Twisted Cinderella’s comment….when my daughter was small, she used to get in trouble at school for singing loudly in the restroom! Just picture this…she’s in first grade, in a echo-y restroom…the school is quiet…and there she is belting out the latest Disney song at the top of her lungs and in her Rod Stewart/Fran Drescher voice! She got all “O”s (outstanding) on her report card, but also “Disturbs Others”. Her teacher was really cool and said, ” Don’t worry about it. I got “Disturbs Others” when I was her age also!”

  62. My daughter (4 in March) has the endless chatter gene. In combination with that she has the loud blessings at public restuarants gene. We are in the habit of allowing her to say the blessing (mostly because it brings us pure joy). At home, she usually pretty low-key, but take the girl out to eat, and she belts out the blessing like she’s singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. I get so tickled and have to fight back the laughter that is brewing inside me. On a number of occasions, people have stopped by our table to thank her for her blessing and to us for letting her do it. She got a thumb’s up last night from the man behind us. SHe takes so much pride in her blessings, and so do I!

  63. I realize this is a year later… but I come from a family of loud talkers… they were farmers, but their loud talking wasn’t a result of machinery or yelling all the time.. they all were diagnosed much later in life with a reverse hearing loss. Most hearing losses occur in the high frequencies, but theirs all were low frequency losses. They met all normal developmental goals, did well in school, and seemingly had little problems, minus the loud talking. At 5 years of age, I joined the “loud talkers” and was diagnosed with a hearing loss. I developed normally, showed no signs of hearing loss until my mother noticed I talked loud, and when I had the chance, I’d cut the television louder. I just thought you should know, you may have already rectified this problem, but coming from someone who’s grown up with a loss… the loud talking is more of a symptom than an actual problem.

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