Vocal Fry (or Creaky Voices) – How Do We Make it Go Away…?

UPDATE Aug 27 2015: Ah well, it appears we are just flat out stuck with this ever increasing rise of vocal fry emanating from men and women and boys and girls – everywhere, in all countries. Vocal fry is in everything we hear; in person, on the radio, in the movies and on television. As a result, speaking only for me (without vocal fry…), I have simply resorted to not listening to many, many programs any longer.

What I have stopped listening to or watching much of are:

— radio programs, T.V. shows and even movies

that have hosts, contributors or guests that speak with vocal fry / creaky voice, such as NPR, CNN (I rarely watch any Fox), Bloomberg (many of their programs) and others. If I really want to watch some content on TV, I’ll mute to read the graphics / crawlers…

Yes, some of these men and women, boys and girls may have a legitimate medical reason for speaking so. But, there are many who use vocal fry to try to simply sound mature or sexy, look or sound cool or even to be manipulative.

For me, I’ve returned to the old stand-by, reading content I am truly interested in, in print or online without having to put up with creaky voice/vocal fry.

Oh and at conferences, if someone starts speaking that way, I’ll just leave. I’ve already left a couple… So, if vocal fry does not annoy you maddeningly or turn you off, bon voyage…


Okay then, Vocal Fry and Creaky Voice are on an ever growing uptick. And the use of either is not: sexy, cool, attractive, hip or appealing – not when so many people are you are using it at the same time, there is no differentiator.

Are you noticing this sound (like the painful raking of nails or fingernails across a chalkboard) more and more 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 of it when you heard it?

Look (or rather, listen) around you, there are more men and women, boys and girls, using this affectation. And quite a few of us do find it distracting but what do you say to someone using vocal fry? It appears that the only thing you can do is to stop listening or paying attention to them, or at the extreme end, walk away.

Can you, you specifically, realistically sit/stand through a discussion/dialogue when the other is using such a distracting manner of speech? If so, I definitely doff my hat to you.

For the rest of us, what we do as a reaction is to just stop listening and stop actively engaging with that person who talks in that fashion just to end the conversation. I know, I know, that could be a lot to some people, but it is a tactic some of us are willing to undertake.

Numerous other bad sources of vocal fry are on radio, television and cable where TV announcers, news anchors, talk shows, etc. employ and it is just bad. It seems as if the news station chief’s, program directors no longer seem to care about it and how it affects the listeners.

The thing is, some of us just change radio or tv stations and engage in something else. That is the only alternative we have, outside of writing a letter or email or website posting to complain about the use of vocal fry in that program. For some of us, that is not a problem in switching channels/stations to hear something else that is NOT vocal fry. For me personally, if it is a topic that I really wanted to hear, I’ll just find a print version online somewhere or buy the magazine where it may appear.

And the biggest factor is that of viewer/listenership loss of the various radio and tv programs as we come upon vocal fry/creaky voice speakers on those programs. That is, the loss of fans/followers and potential ad revenue.

For many of us, listening to someone with vocal is flat out painfully distracting, detracting, annoying, irritating, ummm, how many more terms can I use here…

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.

Check out the June 2, 2014 “Vocal Fry” in the Washington Post story, posted by, Gail Sullivan, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/02/study-women-with-creaky-voices-also-known-as-vocal-fry-deemed-less-hireable/

Some of us actually enjoy the richness and varied ranges of voices in society.

We like hearing:

  • Women sound like women, whether it is soft, serious, throaty, stern or questioning or even feminine
  • 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 or creaky voice imitators

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

So, overall, speaking for myself, I just flat out dislike affected vocal fry in anyone. I really, really am not looking forward to a world of more people (specifically 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…

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are those out there 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, alas, sad to say, 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 that creaky voice or vocal fry affectation in hopes of sounding “cool” or “sexy.” None of us are 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.

Is there any way that this can be brought to a larger public venue with a spotlight on the increasing use of vocal fry / creaky voice and figure out a way to stop it? And get people back to using their natural, true, rich voice…

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



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s