Vocal Fry – Why? Please stop…

On June 2, 2014, Washington Post writer, Gail Sullivan, published a story on the topic of “Vocal Fry” in the Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/02/study-women-with-creaky-voices-also-known-as-vocal-fry-deemed-less-hireable/

Have you noticed this sound as you go about your daily life? Or have you heard it but did not notice it or pay attention to it? Or did you not know what to think to of it when you heard it?

There are several other articles on this topic noted below and I am sure there are many, many more.

In writing this piece, I do not focus on the untrustworthiness aspect as all the articles here discuss at some point in their stories.

It seems that more and more people (men/women and boys/girls) are seemingly taking to this ‘vocal fry’ affectation and it appears, to me at least, that they are starting to startlingly sound alike. Am I wrong in that perception….???

It is a sad consequence that the true richness of individual voices is being lost to this ‘craze,’ ‘fad,’ ‘fitting in’ and/or ‘rebellion?’

Now, there are some who do have an actual physical condition that causes this sound, whether it is a physiological situation or they are smokers. The first situation, well, many of can understand and sympathize. For smokers, they bring it on themselves and not for me to say anything more about individuals’ personal habits.

But, I am one of those that intentionally turn away, change channels and lose all interest in listening to people (not just women) who appear to be using a vocal fry affectation in hopes of sounding “cool” or “sexy.” I am not sure what it is that so many people believe they are doing but it is, as Ms. Sullivan’s writing noted, distracting and annoying and I am one of those negatively affected by it.

Me, I have always enjoyed the richness and varied ranges of voices in society.

I like hearing:

  • Women sound like women, whether it is soft, serious, throaty, stern or questioning.
  • Men sounding like men, whether it is soft alto, richly rumbling, high pitched at times, deep (not that some women don’t naturally sound that way), sometimes cackling or commanding (if that is how they sound at times).
  • Boys and girls sound like boys and girls, not vocal fry imitators.

I want to hear all that varied richness from the many different voices around the world.

So, overall, I just flat out dislike affected vocal fry in anyone. I really, really am not looking forward to a world of more people (especially news anchors, commentators, sports announcers, etc.) sounding alike, where with vocal fry/creaky voice:

  • men sound like women or
  • women sound like men or
  • men sounding like other men or
  • women sounding like other women – for any affected reason

It is, as Mark Liberman alluded to in his article (3), about being ones’ self…

If you intentionally do vocal fry – stop it, please, for yourself and for the rest of us, let us hear your real voice. Because when it comes to settings of professionalism, act like a professional and ditch the fry – unless you actually have a physiological medical condition…


Additional References

1 – Vocal Fry May Women’s Job Prospects, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/employers-look-down-on-women-with-vocal-fry/371811/, 29 May 2014

2 – The Way You Talk Could Be Hurting Your Job Prospects, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tag/vocal-fry/, 30 May 2014

3 – Vocal fry probably doesn’t harm your career prospects, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=12774, 7 June 2014



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