Vocal fry with hash browns

So, I’ve learned something. I’d never head of “vocal fry” until I read that Slate piece, so I had to look it up. Apparently it’s big among the Kardashians. (I wonder if it’s also big among Rachel Zoe [who – gasp – dresses Kardashians omg!!] too. She’s like a walking textbook of bizarre vocal affectations – I bet she does vocal fry all the time.)

I’d never heard of it, but I recognized it when I watched this. Oh that; right.


  1. Blanche Quizno says

    That doesn’t sound educated or urbane to me; it sounds like Kristen Stewart in “Twilight”. Does that make me old?

  2. says

    I hear it a lot, and it doesn’t bother me at all.

    I suspect that one of the reasons it has negative connotations is simply because young women use it. I feel the same way about the upspeak so many people complain about it — I think the reason it rouses so much antagonism is that it’s a vocal marker for being a young woman.

    Why don’t we see the same Big News concern about the dudebro vocal affectations? They’re at least as distinctive.

  3. Kevin Kehres says

    Singers often use vocal fry as a technique to massage their vocal folds during warm-ups.

    But the anyone who is a sports fan will recognize that ESPN’s Chris Berman does this all the time. I actually thought he was having serious vocal issues for a while — but it’s his way of speaking. A bit scary, actually.

  4. carlie says

    So no uptalking, and no lowering your timbre either. It sounds more like no matter what women do, people will criticize how they talk. Hmmmm…..

  5. johnmarley says

    Yeah, kids these days. No other generation ever had speech habits that annoyed earlier generations. Like, fer sher.

  6. yazikus says

    I think I am on Ophelia’s side as far as professional talking is concerned. I am myself bothered by the casual tone taken by many recent interviewees. I am bothered by casual speech in an interview. I want to hear someone articulate.

  7. Bumberpuff says

    I agree that one should speak in a manner appropriate to the situation. I personally don’t notice vocal fry, but I do find reporting on it to be very annoying.

  8. Jackie the social justice WIZZARD!!! says

    I agree with PZ and Carlie. Remember when we found out that higher voices were considered shrill and grating?
    If a woman does it it’s wrong and annoying, especially if it involves her speaking instead of sitting demurely, looking pretty.

    That said, my daughter pointed out a pack of “wild Britneys” today and they really do all sound the same and look the same.

    So do the boys with their “That’s BEAST, brah!” etc said in their best frat boy voice, inflections and all. They also dress alike.

    How often have you heard anyone pick apart the way they sound?
    The white ones, I mean. Clearly anything associated with black culture is also denigrated.

  9. says

    I couldn’t even hear it until the clip pointed it out. I’m sure I do it because I’m the talked about age group. I’m equally sure that my natural Texan drawl is painfully slow to listen to for people with more rapid speech patterns.

    Frankly, I agree with carlie, this is just another example of policing something distinctly “female/feminine” as unprofessional and annoying.

  10. John Morales says



    Clearly anything associated with black culture is also denigrated.

    Can’t resist noting that literally (but not in the vernacular) means “blackened”.

  11. Noah says

    I agree with PZ and Carlie. It seems people – but especially women – have to walk this tight-rope: you can’t speak with too high a pitch; you can’t speak with too low a pitch: your way of talking must be just so. And if it isn’t… well, you’re just annoying, immature, and unprofessional. Come back when you speak like a real-person.

  12. johnthedrunkard says

    Men dip into ‘fry’ all the time as well, but it doesn’t stand out so much. A LOT of announces and professional talkers let the vocal folds malapproximate the same way, and are heard as ‘deep’ or ‘gravelly.’

    It can be cultivated as a singing technique. When you hear a lot of Russian choral singing, there are usually several basses singing in ‘Strohbass’ an octave below the bulk of the bass section. As a professional singer, I had an extended ‘strohbass’ range and used it in Russian operas, and the Mahler 8th symphony chorus part has a 2nd bass line all the way down to A flat below the clef.

  13. lochaber says

    I don’t really get it… I guess, when they dragged out the specific examples, I could sorta notice it, but not when someone is just speaking without the editing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *