While it still goes hand-in-hand with weekly manicures, unaffordable handbags, and toy dogs, today it also signals a strong Kardashian influence. Yay for reality TV. Just watch the video above and you’ll know exactly what we’re on about.
The speech involves elongating certain syllables so they turn into a drawl. There’s also a bit of a creak in there. The Telegraph reported that:
Louisiana State University researchers found that 86 per cent of students tested for vocal fry in normal speech, when asked to repeat a list of made-up words.
Researcher Todd Gibson, assistant professor in communication science, wrote in the Journal of Voice: “Vocal fry is a voice register most frequently heard in young female speakers of American English – a low ‘creaky’ effect typically heard on episodes of ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’.
Research has several theories as to why women use vocal fry: for example, reflecting sociolinguistic cues such as the need to sound more masculine.
Our [study suggests] that even when words have no meaning, young female speakers will seek to mark the end of an utterance or add emphasis with vocal fry.
While those listening to the vocal fry see it as done by someone who is ditsy and unintelligent – and academics have even described it as a speech impediment – women said they use it to sound more authoritative and “womanly.”
Afra Boissevain, a University of Toronto student, told the Star that people paid more attention to her when she spoke in a lower voice.
“I was actually being taken seriously,” she said. “I definitely noticed a difference in how people listened to me.”