December 21st, 2011
09:30 AM ET
Ke$ha does it. So does Britney Spears, Zooey Deschanel and Kim Kardashian.
And now a report shows two-thirds of women in a recent study do it, too: They're all using vocal fry when they talk.
Vocal fry is a creaky, deep sound made when the human voice is at the lowest register. For Ke$ha and Britney, the creak of vocal fry can be heard at the end of the verse lines in their songs. For Zooey and Kim, it’s at the end of their sentences. Listen here for some examples:
Long Island University researchers Lesley Wolk, Nassima Abdelli-Beruh and Diane Slavin researched the speech pattern and found that young American women are likely to use vocal fry at the end of their sentences too, especially when they’re in groups.
“I was hearing it in these normal lovely young people, who were just using it seemingly as a social way of communicating,” Wolk said. And the more she heard it, the more she wondered how prevalent the speech pattern is, which prompted the research.
What is perhaps most surprising is that vocal fry was considered a speech disorder just 10 years ago.
“This vocal fry is something you would normally hear in distorted voice,” said Wolk.
So does that mean we can blame Ke$ha, Britney and Kim for the emergence of vocal fry in the mass culture?
Wolk said there’s no research to know whether the celebrities brought it into the culture, or are simply reflecting their own social speech patterns. “But it is like a vocal fad,” Wolk continued.
“Almost like a way to sound in the '[in] crowd,' and you’re cool.”
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