Women Speak

December 14, 2011 by staff 

Women Speak, Britney Spears and Ke$ha might influence dance moves and belly-shirts but now they might be influencing the way young women speak. Thanks to pop songs, young women are speaking more with a speech pattern called “vocal fry,” a creaky, guttural tone that pop singers typically use to slip into lower notes. In other words, it is the sort of gritty, sxy voice that 85-year-old habitual smokers develop.

Listen to Spears’ “(Hit Me) Baby One More Time.” You will hear the vocal fry when she croaks the lines “Oh baby, baby.” The first few seconds of Ke$ha’s song “Blah Blah Blah” features it too. The creaky register can usually be heard at the end of a sentence.

Kim Kardashian is another vocal frier. You can hear this tone in almost everything she says.

“Vocal fry” was a term coined in a new, small study by researchers for the Journal of Voice. These researchersanlyzed the tone of 34 female college student’s voices, ages 18 to 25, and found that the use of the vocal fry register may be common in female young adults.

“It is possible that these college students have either practiced or observed this vocal register and modeled it to match popular figures,” the authors wrote.

Vocal fry has typically been considered a speech disorder, reports MSNBC. It is often seen in patients with vocal cord damage. However, based on the recorded speech from the 34 Long Island University female students, it is clear that vocal fry is becoming normalized.

“My colleagues and I have noticed this speech pattern in our young female college students,” said Nassima Abdelli-Beruh, one of the researchers on the study. She describes vocal fry as sounding like “rattled, popping air.”

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