Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! This spooky season got us wondering, how exactly does the headless horseman speak? For those who aren’t familiar with the headless horseman, the common (American) version of the myth comes from Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and features a soldier who lost his head and rises as a ghost to search for his missing head. In all depictions (that I have seen), however, the headless horseman can still speak despite having no head! Some depictions involve him using a pumpkin as a replacement head, so if he somehow put a vocal tract in the pumpkin, I must say that is an absolute marvel of pumpkin carving and he should win every pumpkin carving contest ever.

This got me thinking about the other monstrous creatures of Halloween as well, and whether/how they can produce speech. Probably the easiest are vampires and werewolves, since they pretty much retain all their human anatomy despite technically being undead or wolves some of the time. A little trickier are zombies, mummies, and draugr. They still have vocal tracts but a much harder time using them.

Things get really strange when you think about ghosts. Depictions vary whether they can produce sound at all, but they are able to produce speech often enough that I wonder how? They’re incorporeal beings, so even if they have vocal tracts, how do they act on the air and actually produce any sound? I’ve got a couple theories. Some ghosts are able to physically effect the world around them, meaning they could make sound as well. I think this is a boring, easy explanation, personally. I much prefer the theory that when ghosts rise, the sounds they made while living come with them, and whatever they’re saying is just a manifestation of the sounds they made in their past life. Perhaps this is what the headless horseman is really doing, and his lack of a vocal tract isn’t a hindrance to him at all!

What do you think? Are there any other scary creatures with some odd methods of producing speech? How do you think ghosts produce their dire warnings? Thanks for joining us on this little distraction on (for some of us) our favorite holiday. Before we say goodbye, we have just one request to make.

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