The Disney character Donald Duck is well known for his nigh unintelligible voice, which was originated by actor Clarence Nash in the 1930s. I have always heard this manner of speaking described as buccal speech, where air is squeezed through the inner cheek rather than the larynx. However, Tony Anselmo, who took over the role after Nash's death in 1985, denies that he uses buccal speech for Donald. According to an interview quoted in a LatestLY article,

Most people believe Donald's voice is created by squeezing air through the cheek. I can't reveal how it's actually done, but it is definitely not by squeezing air through your cheek. The Hanna Barbara character Yakky Doodle is done that way. Donald Duck is not.

And according to another (video) interview at the 2020 MoMoCon,

It comes from the back of your throat and you're not using your vocal cords at all. It's really more of a trick; it's not really a voice. And for some reason a lot of things affect it, like your sinuses. I can have laryngitis and I can still do Donald Duck because I don't use my vocal cords. But if I have a cold in the sinuses, then it's like a violin that you've got newspapers stuffed in there. It doesn't sound as clear.

Is Anselmo's description of how he produces the voice (or at least how he doesn't produce the voice) correct, or at least plausible? That is, is there some way of producing a voice resembling that of Donald Duck that does not use buccal speech? If so, is there a name for this type of speech, what is its airstream mechanism, and how and where are the sounds articulated?

Some further clues may be found in this video interview with Leonard Maltin, where Anselmo explains the necessity of substituting sounds (or words containing those sounds) that are difficult to produce with Donald Duck's voice, much like a ventriloquist does:

Anselmo: There are certain words you use, certain words you try not to use, or you use something that means the same thing to try and, you know, because…

Maltin: What would be a tough word for Donald, for instance?

Anselmo: Well, it's funny. Sometimes big words like—'antidisestablishmentarianism' is a long, big word, or 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'—is pretty clear. But short words with R's or soft consonants, like 'rules'—it won't come out.

In the two video interviews quoted above, as well as various other video interviews available online, Anselmo does demonstrate the voice several times, and it does look like he may be doing something with his cheek. But of course it's not entirely clear what's going on inside his mouth. He also demonstrates the ability to speak at length, without pauses, in Donald Duck's voice, which I'm not sure would be possible with buccal speech.


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