Vocal Fry: The Speech Killer You Must Know About

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Published December 29, 2021
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The Montclarion
Ruthy Villa | The Montclarion

We are all surrounded by trends, particularly absurd ones. I learned about vocal fry in my phonetic class this semester and wanted to help raise awareness of a trend that shouldn’t be one.

Vocal fry is a linguistic term related to phonetics, which are speech sounds. It describes a way of speaking where the voice is in the lower register, which creates a creaking sound of the human voice. This sound forms when the vocal cords are close together and there is a lot of muscle mass involved, making them vibrate when this sound is produced.

If you are wondering what the vocal fry sounds like, think of how your voice sounds when you first wake up in the morning. You will notice that your voice sounds slow and deep.

Currently, vocal fry has become a new trend that has been implemented in the speech of hundreds of young people in the U.S., as it is considered a “cool” way of speaking.

We’ve heard this type of voice more than we realize; a perfect example of this is the Kardashian-Jenner family, especially Kim Kardashian. Since her beginnings in the entertainment industry, she has been harshly criticized for the way she speaks. Some admire her and even imitate her voice, but experts do not recommend practicing this type of speaking.

The reality is that this type of speech can be detrimental to the health of those who practice it. Vocal fry can affect the vocal cords to the point of hurting them. During an interview for the Mayo Clinic, otorhinolaryngologist David Lott expressed his concern about this new trend.

“When the vocal folds vibrate [during vocal fry], they’re vibrating chaotically, and the vocal folds are not really designed to do that for a long period of time,” Lott said.

Not only can vocal fry be a detriment to your health, but it can also negatively affect your chances of employment.

Getting a job or internship has become a challenge for college students. The cycle of applications, interviews and the constant agony of waiting for an answer are just some of the things that make getting hired a stressful process. The list goes on and on, and vocal fry is on it.

Currently, many young people, especially women, are being harshly judged for the way they speak. Most employers have stated they are less likely to hire people who use vocal fry, as it makes the speaker sound too informal.

A 2014 research article analyzing the relationship between listener perception and willingness to hire found voice perception was critical to perceived integrity; people who use vocal fry when speaking are seen as less trustworthy. For this reason, respondents prefer not to take the risk and deny them the job.

It was also confirmed that vocal fry is perceived more negatively in women than in men because a thick, slow voice in women sounds more atypical than in a man.

Over time and as a result of the strong influence of social media, the cases of vocal fry in teenagers and young adults have been increasing. Using vocal fry can, in the long run, cause negative effects both in health and others’ perception of you.

It’s true, we’ve all wanted to feel fashionable or do something that the people around us like, and eventually gain popularity. We’ve all done it, and it’s normal during this process of getting to know ourselves. But, it’s not worth the risk to get involved in things that might harm your health or hurt you morally.

Please take care of yourself and others. Trying to imitate someone or doing something because it’s trendy can be a fun experience, but it is always important to set limits.

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