Like a lot of other people, I’ve noticed the recent tendency for young women and even some young men to speak with “vocal fry.”
It’s a sort of raspy, gravelly vocal crunch, usually at the end of a sentence. To the listener it can be as annoying as fingernails on a blackboard, or squeaking Styrafoam, or pencils scratching on paper (although some people actually enjoy these things). Back in the 1990’s the trend was for young college-educated women to speak in faux eastern-seaboard uppercrust accents (I used to get a little mean about that and once made fun of one of these girls to the point where she didn’t speak to me for a few days, which was a welcome break for my ears). It’s now been replaced by vocal frying.
As mentioned in the article, this first started to be a noticeable trend at the height of the career of the regrettable Brittney Spears, who actually sang that way. But now it’s gone so far that, for instance, I had to tune out of a video interview of a young ballet instructor because she was speaking almost entirely with vocal fry. The comments under the video indicated that I wasn’t alone in my irritation; it was, in fact, discussed at length by most of those making comments — instead of the subject matter of the video. That’s how not to get a point across!
I’ve also heard it used by a lot of young women doing voiceovers and commercial acting, probably to convey youthfulness and with-it-ness, or whatever. Mostly I think it’s just “whatever;” I even heard an actress use it (albeit lightly) at the end of a sentence in an ad for Grammarly…which almost seems ironic even though no grammar rules were broken.
Stop it, people. Not only are you murdering our ears, you may be killing your vocal chords as well (that ballet instructor almost certainly won’t have a voice left by the time she’s 40). And it makes you sound stupid.
It’s the vocal equivalent of Instagram eyebrows. Don’t sacrifice your voice and your credibility to a trend. Leave that to Brittney Spears…no, wait: she’s already gone.