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"Vocal Fry" as a Social Link?

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

It was this BIG!Photo by Jeffrey Pott/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0

Wouldn’t you know it. Britney Spears impact on our social culture extends beyond the worlds of music and fashion — and into the language of speech. A recent study in the Journal of Voice shows that more than two-thirds of Standard American-English speakers aged 18-25 are now incorporating what once used to be thought of as a speech impediment into their everyday speech patterns. And young, female adults living in the U.S. are more apt to use this guttural vibration in their normal speech than men.

Don’t know what it sounds like? Listen to the audio sample above. Or, pop in one of Spears more recent hits, and listen to how she sings her lower notes and how it kind of sounds like a series of dry, creaky staccato tones. Yep, that’s it.

But why? The co-author of the Long Island University study and a speech scientist, Nassima Abdelli-Beruh, speculates in ScienceNow, “Young students tend to use it when they get together. Maybe this is a social link between members of a group.”

The I know I’ll be listening to my young nieces and nephews’ speech patterns more acutely over the holiday break!

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  1. humulus said: Also heard at the beginning of “Lounge Act” by Nirvana.
  2. beingblog posted this