Vocal Fry

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:

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?


About Ben

Ben T. Smith launched his dialect fascination while working in theatre. He has worked as an actor, playwright, director, critic and dialect coach. Other passions include linguistics, urban development, philosophy and film.
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