Vocal Fry

Vocal Fry

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Updated Jul 31, 2015 at 08:53PM EDT by Tomberry.

Added Jul 31, 2015 at 02:47PM EDT by Ari Spool.

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Vocal Fry is a manner of speaking where the voice is sunk into its lowest possible register, producing a creaky or vibrato tone. This voice pattern has come under fire, especially when used by women, with many claiming that it sounds annoying or makes the speaker sound dumb, similar to Valleyspeak, otherwise known as uptalk.


Vocal fry was first identified in the 1970s. Some authorities consider it a dysphonia, or vocal defect, if the speaker uses it consistently or can't speak without it, but it is also used in singing as a legitimate technique for lowering the vocal register.[1] In the early 2010s, linguists noted that the speech pattern was becoming more common among young English-speaking women, and performed several different studies about the perception of its use. One study claimed that "Relative to a normal speaking voice, young adult female voices exhibiting vocal fry are perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, less attractive, and less hirable," but another study found that they were perceived as "educated, urban-oriented, and upwardly mobile."[2][3]

In December, 2011, the Daily Mail wrote a widely-read story about the prevalence of vocal fry in speech, attributing its popularity to the pattern's use by celebrities, including Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian.[4]


Discussion about the legitimacy of vocal fry in speech have spread online, often through similar forums as the discussions of feminism. On reddit, several posts debating the legitimacy of the speech pattern have received hundreds of comments and thousands of upvotes.[5] Several videos debating the trend have gone viral, with millions of views.[6]

In 2015, criticism has been leveled against people who take a stance against the use of vocal fry, saying that vocal fry was one of just many counterproductive arguments that silence women in media.[6] A popular tweet by podcaster Kate Mingle presented a fake auto-reply to people who write in to complain about how her voice sounds; the tweet received over 1,393 retweets and 1,455 favorites.[7]

eooo Verizon LTE 9:48 AM Subject: Auto-reply women's voices Hello! You've written in to voice your dislike of one of our female reporter's voices. You're not alone. We have a filter set up that automatically sends these types of emails into a folder labeled "zero priority." We'll review this folder and consider the complaints within, well, never Amazingly we don't even have a folder for complaints about the male voices on our show, because we've never gotten one! Isn't that strange? We think so Anyway, hope you can continue to enjoy our free podcast somehow, and if you can't there are plenty of shows that don't feature women's voices at all -99pi Jenna Weiss-Berman Follow Radio shero @katiemingle of 99% Invisible crafted a lovely auto reply for listeners complaining about women's voices 141 PM-11 Jul 2015 わ ta 1,393 ★ 1,455

Between July 1st and July 31st, 2015, vocal fry was a much discussed topic on Twitter, where analytics say the phrase was used over 6,000 times.[8]

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