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?

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About Ben Trawick-Smith

Ben Trawick-Smith began 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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