Trendy or annoying? What is vocal fry?

HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) -- The new Bachelorette has it. Celebrities have it. Your wife --maybe your girlfriend ---or even you may have it. It's a sort of creak when you speak, and its afflicting young people all over.

"Vocal Fry", as it's called, has become quite the talker and is often considered an annoying trend. It's that sort of up-speak - ending sentences with a question mark or that low, creaky, dragged out pitch, and it's caught a lot of buzz on social media.

"It's more annoying to hear it I think, than it is to actually have it," said University of Houston Speech Pathologist, Ashwini Joshi.

Joshi says all men and women have a little bit of vocal fry, but most don't know they're doing it.

"Some people drop into it more than others. It's typical to drop into it at the end of a sentence. It's more common to do that, but some talk in it longer than others," said Joshi.

It's not a new phenomenon. Speech Specialists have been studying it since the 1960's, but right now, it seems to be extra trendy.

"It is sort of associated with just your demeanor as a young American woman," said Joshi.

According to Joshi, one school of thought is that vocal fry may come from women lowering their voices to sound more authoritative. Others drop into it when they're trying to sound laid back, and then it spreads through popular culture.

Researchers at Long Island University found that two-thirds of college-aged women who participated in a study had pronounced vocal fry, and it might even have a serious impact on job prospects.

A study from Duke University found young, female job candidates with vocal fry were considered less competent and less likely to be hired.

"And your voice is really important in relaying your emotions and your enthusiasm so I think that plays a big role in showing: is this person really serious in the job I want them to do," said Joshi.

Aside from being annoying, the risk of actual damage to the vocal chords is low, but if you know you have vocal fry and it bothers you, specialists at clinics like University of Houston's Speech and Language Program can treat it.

"Voice production is correlated to how you use your air supply and how well you use your resonance system, so treatment is just learning to coordinate those three," said Joshi.

And in time, it may just phase its way out.

"It's a cycle. I think in a few years there will be something else that will take over and this will fade out perhaps," said Joshi.
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