I don’t have time for a full-on post today, but I would be negligent if I didn’t point out the recent buzz on the web and elsewhere about ‘vocal fry.’ This term, which is more or less synonymous with creaky voice, describes a voice quality that might be termed ‘rough,’ ‘growly,’ ‘smoky’ or a number of other wildly unscientific adjectives. This article in Science magazine has a more technical description:
Vocal fry, or glottalization, is a low, staccato vibration during speech, produced by a slow fluttering of the vocal cords.
This piece has prompted a number of interesting responses:
- This article in Discover Magazine’s blog, with an intriguing example involving Mae West.
- This amusing take over at Jezebel (I chuckled at the headline, “American Women Suffering From Rampant Growling Speech Impediment”).
- This brief blurb over at Gawker.
- This (slightly dubious) medical take over at Everyday Health.
- Most importantly, this in-depth analysis from the always-astute Mark Liberman of Language Log.
Needless to say, after reading Mr. Liberman’s piece, I have nothing to add to the hubbub. I am rather fascinated, however, that this particular vocal quirk has stirred up so much popular discussion (by linguistics standards). Perhaps vocal fry is something we’ve all taken notice of?