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Assault on Ears

October 7th, 2015 Comments off

28-kim-vocal-fry.w1200.h630Many things irritate me, but most of them I can get away from without too much effort, just by leaving. Even the rude drivers at rush hour cannot wield the kind of irritation that could lead one to drink—a lot. However, there is a special “something” that overflows our airwaves, classrooms, college campuses and general conversation with a pitched the nasally, high-pitched voice associated with the likes of Kourtney Kardashian and other celebrities.

If squeaking Styrofoam makes you wince, squealing chalk across a blackboard or a dentist’s drill bother you, then you’ve probably heard it and had one of several reactions. If you’re like me and can’t hear worth a damn, it is particularly annoying because I shouldn’t be able to hear it. If you’re not hearing impaired, it might grate on your nerves. If you hear it and are not bothered by it, you are a carrier. In the United States, it spans races, ethJust what is this voice I speak of, just keep reading.

Technically, it’s called “vocal fry,” the squeaky voice that is created by the vocal chords compressing, which reduces the airflow through the larynx and the rest of the frequency of vibrations causing speech to sound rattled nationalities and ethnicities. or “creaky.” A lot of it comes about as imitation of popular celebrities and stars. The irritating voice should not be confused with a creaky voice “glottalization, which is classified as a disorder. Whether it is a phenomenon, trend or vocal fashion, it can have serious repercussion for career searches.

“Vocal fry” can hinder employment, according to a Duke University study conducted by Rindy C. Anderson, Casey Klofstad, Willaim J. Mayew and Mohan Venkkatachalam. The researchers recorded seven women between the ages of 19 and 27 and seven men aged 20 to 30 saying “thank you for considering me for the opportunity” in both their normal, tone of voice and in vocal fry. Then 800 participants then listened to the recordings on-line and rated how competent, trustworthy, educated and attractive the voices sounded to them—and how willing they would they be to hire each person.[1] As expected those speaking with “vocal fry” received low hiring scores and were generally seen as less competent.

Are young American women missing out on opportunities because of vocal fry? Monster.com says, how you sound is just as important as interviewing skills. But, many job seekers let careless speech habits sink their chances of landing that plum job.[2] Probably, a more disturbing issue created by vocal habits is the strength given up, which so many women strived to attain. “What’s heartbreaking about the trend for destructive speech patterns is that yours is the most transformational generation–you’re disowning your power the consequences.”[3]

A few years ago, researchers at Long Island University and elsewhere noted that increasing numbers of people, particularly young women whose voices were perfectly normal were starting to talk that way as well.[4] One item reported by many male and female participants is that the “vocal fry” voices carried no authority. A Dutch study also found the same thing. The results of their tests suggested that lower voices are associated with power, and lowering your voice may actually induce a feeling of power.”[5]

Researcher Ikuko Patricia Yuasa suggests that this tendency is a product of young women endeavoring to infuse their speech with gravitas by means of reaching for the male register and found that “college-age Americans […] perceive female creaky voice as hesitant, nonaggressive and informal, but also educated, urban-oriented, and upwardly mobile.”[6][

Even though speech patterns should not be a negative recruiting issue, secretly—it is. A 2010 study published in American Speech suggested that it is more common in women than men and that listeners associated with affluence. No matter the reason, when that voice enters a nearby conversation or at my table. I try filter it out, like white noise. It’s hard to do considering it’s all around me. I like regular female voices—whatever that is, I don’t know, but I know it when I hear it.

[1]  Gail Sullivan, June 2, 2014, Washington Post,  Study: Women with creaky voices — also known as ‘vocal fry’ — deemed less hireable, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/06/02/study-women-with-creaky-voices-also-known-as-vocal-fry-deemed-less-hireable/

[2] Diane Diresta, Six Sloppy Speech Habits, Monster.com, http://career-advice.monster.com/job-interview/interview-preparation/six-sloppy-speech-habits/article.aspx

[3] Naomi Wolf, Young women, give up the vocal fry and reclaim your strong female voice, the guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/24/vocal-fry-strong-female-voice

[4] Habitual Use of Vocal Fry in Young Adult Female Speakers, Lesley Wolk, Nassima B. Abdelli-Beruh, Dianne Slavin, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, CW POST—Long Island University, Brookville, New York, September 15, 2011

[5] Marielle Stel, Eric van Dijk, Pamela K. Smith, Wilco W. van Dijk, and Farah M. Djalal, , Lowering the Pitch of Your Voice Makes You Feel More Powerful and Think More Abstractly, Social Psychological and Personality Science, The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/1948550611427610,  2012 3: 497 originally published online 22 November 2011

[6] Yuasa, I. P. (2010). “Creaky Voice: A New Feminine Voice Quality for Young Urban-Oriented Upwardly Mobile American Women?”. American Speech 85 (3): 315–37.doi:10.1215/00031283-2010-018

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