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'Vocal Fry' Creeping Into US Speech

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-totally-bizarre dept.

Science 331

sciencehabit writes "A curious vocal pattern has crept into the speech of young adult women who speak American English: low, creaky vibrations, also called vocal fry. Pop singers, such as Britney Spears, slip vocal fry into their music as a way to reach low notes and add style. Now, a new study of young women in New York state shows that the same guttural vibration — once considered a speech disorder — has become a language fad."

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Nothing new (2, Insightful)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325124)

Language changes over time. It always has, it always will. Of course the old people will always be grumpy how current generation of kids can't behave or talk correctly. They always have, they always will.

Re:Nothing new (5, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325180)

The article isn't about old people being grumpy about the change, or about change in general. The article is about the change itself.

"Language changes" isn't new, but "This language is changing in this way" is.

Re:Nothing new (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325692)

My only complaint is that "vocal fry" is a stupid name for it. It is very obviously a croak, and people have been doing it for generations.

Re:Nothing new (4, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325256)

And there will always be touchy, defensive people of all ages who perceive criticism behind every simple observation.

Re:Nothing new (4, Insightful)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325284)

Yup. This is why it seems like a waste of time to obsess over "proper" English. Words are like clothes, you mix and match and there isn't any right answer.

As for the article, I have easily noticed this in well over 34 women at my college, but only in a certain subset of people. Namely, those who want to sound like pop singers. It's the same class of people who tan. So I have my doubts about it creeping into American English in general.

Also, who scanned the article and thought, "Futurama is influencing American speech!?"

Re:Nothing new (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325302)

It's much the same in the UK - a croaky "smoked 40 Marlboro Lights in the VIP area of my local club" voice is trendy at the moment for whatever reason. Seems to go hand in hand with fake tan, too much make-up and an obsession with reality TV and "celebrity".

Re:Nothing new (5, Funny)

Slashdot Assistant (2336034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325658)

Yeah, and well rehearsed "duck face" poses used whenever a camera comes out. Really, if this becomes the common theme for women, I'd be hanging on to heterosexuality by my finger nails.

Re:Nothing new (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325788)

Don't switch sides over this as it isn't just women: a similar proportion of gay men appear to be guilty of these things too.

Re:Nothing new (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326156)

You might want to talk to the women who are currently bemoaning the preponderance of emo and metro 'men' hoping to become girlfriends-with-a-penis. Gender roles are being shaken up all over the joint.

Re:Nothing new (3, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326222)

You might want to talk to the women who are currently bemoaning the preponderance of emo and metro 'men' hoping to become girlfriends-with-a-penis. Gender roles are being shaken up all over the joint.

If anything, among the privileged of the world, the lack of feminism in male attire was the exception for awhile, rather than the rule. Womens' high fashion was based around clothing that was designed for form instead of function, and definitely fails at allowing women to work while wearing it. Privileged mens' fashion followed a similar pattern with hosiery, ornamentation, even high heels, until within the last couple-hundred years, when it switched to what we attribute as business attire. Womens' clothing everyday clothing evolved into ornamentation on semi-practical clothing, and now some mens' fashion is following suit.

It's actually been this way for some time though. Look at the disco attire of the seventies- that certainly was not a masculine way to dress.

Re:Nothing new (5, Interesting)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326108)

There was an eloquent and impassioned talk given by Stephen Fry (in fact, one could argue it was Vocal, by Fry) that discussed this very thing. Here it is. [youtube.com] It's one of the few things that's transcended the "that's nice" and "oh, cool" barriers and actually changed the way I think about language. Anyone I work with can attest to the fact that I no longer correct "less problems" to "fewer", or "should of" to "should have".

Re:Nothing new (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326158)

The vocal fry is common amungst men public speakers for years. The movie trailer guys, or political comerical. Think when a GOP comerical says "Liberal Allies".
It come to reason women will take more of the men's speaking pattern as they become more common in public speaking.

Re:Nothing new (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326302)

Language changes over time. It always has, it always will. Of course the old people will always be grumpy how current generation of kids can't behave or talk correctly. They always have, they always will.

I agree, a language is whatever it's users are doing, so it can't help but change over time... don't know if I'd call it "evolving" as some do. To me if a language is evolving it would become better at conveying better specific meaning with fewer, simpler phonemes. I think we tend to do the opposite, and like, totally crap up the information with, like, things that are SOooo useless. Old people are grumpy about the fact that someone else is young and they are not.
Someone else is getting laid, and they are not.
Someone else is not nearing death's door... and they are.
But it wouldn't be proper to bitch about those things so they bitch about the things the current (and each) generation does to distinguish itself, even though their own generation went through the same process.

Just what we need (3, Funny)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325126)

It's early in the morning. I just woke up, so my sarcasm glands need emptying. Just what we need, millions of girls who sound like Britney Spears. There.

Re:Just what we need (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325588)

Out of all the "celebrities" that one could imitate, why pick one that can barely talk, much less sing? Should, through some cosmic sense of humor, I ever interview anyone like this, the interview would effectively be over within seconds.Our teams do not need to add affected speech to raise yet more barriers to communications.

Re:Just what we need (1)

Slashdot Assistant (2336034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325746)

Yup, and anyone whose speech is infested with irritatingly repeated phrases, such as "you know what I'm saying?" or "like, you know".

Anyone who can't get through a sentence without inserting this junk may just as well wonder why blowing a tin whistle or air drumming at the end of each sentence causes interviewers to quickly dismiss them as being unsuitable? It sounds retarded, and the vocal breaking thing is not sexy. A husky voice can be sexy, but not one where it's a woman attempting to impersonate Henry Kissinger yawning.

Re:Just what we need (2)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326256)

So, if your sarcasm gland needed emptying, it WAS just what you needed. Which means that your comment wasn't sarcasm. But then it wasn't just what you needed, so it must have been sarcasm. Are you by any chance from descended from Cretans?

That's nothing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325136)

You should hear my falsetto.

vocal Fry? (2, Insightful)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325138)

vocal fry

I came in expecting an article about the Fry's "shut up and take my money" meme. Boy was I disappointed.

"Study of 34 female speakers" (4, Insightful)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325154)

Surely on a college campus, you can find more than 34 females to do a study on? I would imagine they spent 10-20 times the amount of time writing about their "findings" than they did surveying for data. Is this normal? A study like this wouldn't be terribly time consuming; I would hope for a sample of at least 100 samples, preferably from more than one region (cities/metro areas like London have at least 7 distinct dialects).
It's interesting (I can think of at least two people I know who do this vocal fry) but such a small sample size seems like a poor subject to waste time writing a paper on without doing another hour's worth of research.

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (0)

Nugoo (1794744) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325346)

As a matter of fact, it is pretty normal. I took a course this semester on computational perception, and every research paper that came up in the course or in presentations by the students had fewer than 10 subjects, often as low as 2. In some cases, those 2 were the authors.

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325448)

In our my household, 50% of respondents wanted to try anal sex.

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325350)

With 34 subjects the error in the confidence interval for the proportion is roughly +/- 0.17. They had about 2/3 of their subjects use this vocal pattern. Seems like they can claim that the lower bound is 49% which may be all they needed to make their point. Plus they had to have two speech experts evaluate each sample. It may not be so easy to just sit and listen for a couple of minutes to make a consistent decision as to whether or not the subjects were regularly using this vocal pattern in their speech habits.

As for the backgrounds of the students they do not provide a geographical range in the article. It is not in the abstract of the paper either. Without reading the paper it is not clear what kind of backgrounds the students came from. If they all came from the same college then that is a bigger issue than the sample size and is clearly not a "random sample."

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325366)

Yes it is normal, 34 people are far more then enough to get statistically significant results that are almost identically significant to 100.

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (2)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326188)

As a fellow /.er has posted above, this statement works if the error is purely statistical, that is to say no significant contribution of systematic bias.

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326284)

True, if you take a 70% larger confidence interval to be "almost identically significant" (not counting the "far more than").

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325440)

Believe it or not, there is an entire field of study called "statistics" that can be used to assess whether a difference of a certain magnitude is real given a sample of a certain size. And, as a phonetician myself, I can tell you that performing these kinds of measurements on speech recordings in a rigorous, controlled, and reproducible way can take a fair amount of time. Finally, they probably did run more than 34 subjects, but had to throw out various subjects who were not native speakers or were male or so on (often, experimenters are not allowed to discriminate on these grounds when advertising for subjects)

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (4, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325504)

Surely on a college campus, you can find more than 34 females to do a study on?

Come on guys, no one took the bait on this one?

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325906)

Small studies typically aim to have about 20 samples. Below 20 it gets much less likely that you'll have a significant finding. Going higher requires more work, which means more funding. Who is going to sink big money into research on vocal patterns? If this is something you are interested in, you have to squeeze it into a pretty tight budget.

Re:"Study of 34 female speakers" (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326316)

Plus, it is a fine size for a first study, to refine the hypothesis a larger study is going to test, and to demonstrate that the larger study will likely not be a waste of time, thus making funding the larger study easier.

coming up next (5, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325158)

Next we'll be hearing autotune in everyday speech.

Re:coming up next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325496)

I wonder how you write autotuned speech.

Doolurrlurrooooes it sound like thiiiIiiiiIiiiiIiiis?

Re:coming up next (4, Interesting)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325506)

Next we'll be hearing autotune in everyday speech.

Er, I'm not sure that I'd dismiss that possibility *entirely* out of hand. (*) While I'm not sure how Autotune (**) would translate to speech- since it's used for *singing*- the same could be said for this supposed "vocal fry", which started out as a singing technique, and I'm not sure how *that* got transferred to speech. Autotune is pretty damn common, so really, if vocal fry can make the jump, we shouldn't dismiss that Autotune might have *some* effect on speech, even if it's hindered by the fact that most people don't have a box of digital electronics in their voicebox. :-)

Anyway, as for this "vocal fry's" *singing* origins- having checked out what they mean via YouTube- IMHO it sounds less like "a way to reach low notes" and more like what has *always* happened when people *can't* reach those low notes properly, i.e. "it's not shitty singing, it's a vocal technique".... Yeah, right!

Not sure if I have any opinion about vocal fry as a speech pattern, as I haven't heard enough of it to figure out if it's an annoying affectation, just part of the natural mutation of language... or both. ;-)

(*) Then again, what do I know. While I don't- or didn't- hate Autotune misuse (**) per se, as an interesting technique in itself (I've heard some quite good examples), my problem is its overuse *everywhere*. I got bored of it ages ago, and predicted the fad would have died at least a year ago now. Since this clearly hasn't happened, I've also considered the possibility that it may indicate a permanent change in music tastes- and, as if sods' law wanted to prove how out of touch I am- it will probably turn out to be a fad that goes massively out of fashion at some point after all. Or not- as I said, what do I know, I'm way too old for chart music anyway. :-)

(**) As opposed to the original intended purpose of Autotune, which was to simply correct imperfections in singing. Ironically when people talk about "Autotune" now, it's usually to mean the deliberate misuse/overuse of it for effect- and not simple correction- because the latter is so prevalent (and the former should not stand out if done correctly).

Re:coming up next (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325716)

Given how autotune technology is advancing both in capabilities and ease of use, this would be quite possible. Not for everyday use - it's hardly practical to carry around an audio rig everywhere - but for public speeches, television appearances, things like that. Perhaps the US President of 2024 will make his inaugral speech though a voice processor that corrects any momentary stalls, stammers or mispronounciations to ensure he sounds absolutly perfect - and even alters his accent to that which his campaign manager determines will make him most popular.

If GWB had that technology, he would have avoided the national snickering about his inability to pronounce 'nuclear' correctly.

Re:coming up next (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325970)

Or some middle-eastern men would be still alive had they understood they were meant when he talked about killing terrists [panoramio.com].

So that's what it's called (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325166)

That creeky sound American girls make has been anoying me for years. That and the constant use of the word "like".

Re:So that's what it's called (1)

dabooda (412228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325278)

Same here! Guys make the same sound too. I love Marco Arment but sometimes listening to his pod cast is tiring because he's constantly speaking with a creaky voice.

Re:So that's what it's called (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325316)

I'm not american but since there are loads of american shows on the tv, and with the internet and whatnot, I noticed a few years ago that young american women tend to let the sentences kind of trail off, lowering the pitch and having a bit of vibratto. I remember thinking a few years back "wow, it must be really annoying speaking to someone that talks like that".

Why do they speak this way? Is it to appear sexy, or something? Kinda like that hoarse bedroom voice, all the time? I find it extremely annoying and not sexy at all.

Oh Baby Baby! (1)

singingjim1 (1070652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325176)

I am NOT RTFA. But I noticed this in a female voice-over announcer in a radio commercial the other day. It annoyed the crap out of me and I immediately yelled at the radio to get off my lawn. But seriously ladies, it's friggin annoying. It's not fun. It's not funny.

Maybe it is from (5, Funny)

Ice Station Zebra (18124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325184)

Brushing their teeth with a bottle of Jack?

Re:Maybe it is from (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325702)

Didn't the movie the Ring also make this noise popular?

Re:Maybe it is from (4, Insightful)

odirex (1958302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326198)

Absolutely. 'Vocal fry' is a lazy/relaxed way of using the vocal cords. When you have a hang-over or smoked a ton of weed the night before, you'll almost always talk that way in the morning. I'm a singer and in all my training I've heard vocal fry is actually good for you to relax the vocal cords. TFA's statement that"Chances of vocal damage are very minimal" implies that there is a chance when there is none at all.

nothing original here.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325190)

typically a traditional Russian vocal technique for male basses to express very low notes, they are commonly known among musicians as "fry tones." This has been around for a very long time. The only new development is its popularity among female singers.

Re:nothing original here.. (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325224)

I couldn't read anywhere in the article that the researchers claimed it was original work by young adult females.

This too shall pass. (5, Interesting)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325196)

Remember the 'valley girl' speech pattern of the 80's? You don't really hear that much anymore. Humans of a common demographic need things like this to identify with each other and distinguish themselves from other groups. It's part of our social nature.

Annoying Valley Girl echoes (0)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325464)

Over the past few years, folks in Phoenix have picked up the Californianesque annoyance of calling Interstate Highway 10, "the" 10... "The 10 what?" I ask, since they are using it as an adjective. I finally got someone to say, "Oh, the 10 'freeway'." Where "freeway" apparently just means "limited access highway" so they are calling it the Highway 10 highway. Ugh. That needs to be quashed by the Department of Redundancy Department, along with the British "the M1 Motorway" (the Motorway 1 Motorway) and "Personal Identification Number number."

Re:Annoying Valley Girl echoes (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325810)

That's not new at all -- the Phoenix area has been doing that for at least 20 years, and probably more.

its spread farther, too, its pretty common in Nevada and Colorado, too. But its pretty much ubiquitous in AZ, and has been since the 80s.

Re:Annoying Valley Girl echoes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325946)

The use of the article "the" is peculiarily a *southern* california speech pattern. In northern california, they don't use the article.

SoCal: Take the 405 over Sepulveda Pass
NorCal: Take 580 to Livermore

The pattern changes roughly mid-state (say around San Luis Obisipo, if you're taking the coast route)

The other thing that varies somewhat regionally is whether one uses the name of the freeway or the number. 405 or San Diego Freeway (which, naturally ends more than 50 miles north of San Diego). This seems to be a Los Angeles phenomenon (when I grew up in San Diego, we used numbers almost exclusively.. the 8, the 5, the 15).. And some are almost always referred to by number (the 605) some usually by name (Ventura Freeway vs the 101) but depending on where you are. In the San Fernando Valley, it's Ventura Freeway. South of Cahuenga Pass, though, it's usually "the 101"

if you want real excitement, go look up the stuff about caught/cot

Re:Annoying Valley Girl echoes (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325994)

So, take "the" Interstate Highway 15 or take "the" Route 101? How can anyone even think, much less say that?

Re:Annoying Valley Girl echoes (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326150)

Because nobody understands what noting plural and singular is suppose to mean anyhow.
It took me 2 years of studying spansish before I understood that you used the "Lo, la, los, las" and whatever ever similar ones to denote singular and plural just like in my own language.

Re:Annoying Valley Girl echoes (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326132)

Interstate Highway 10 has 5 syllables. The 10 has two. Guess which is going to win?

Dropping 'the' to get down to just '10' is hard because there are typically both mileage and time uses of numbers in such conversations.

Re:Annoying Valley Girl echoes (1)

penguinchris (1020961) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326146)

So what do you think "the 10" should be called (I live in CA)? Do you say "Interstate Highway 10" in normal speech (or just "Highway 10", which also sounds unnaturally formal to me, but is not unreasonable)? Or, do you say "the 10 limited access highway"?

I'm originally from Western New York (Buffalo, went to university in Rochester). We have highways there equivalent to CA's freeways (though much smaller), but no one calls them freeways, they call them highways. But then, there are regular surface roads that are also called highways. I never knew how to refer to the freeways there (still don't, though people know what I mean if I'm back in Buffalo and use the CA term freeway). But, people in Buffalo and Rochester refer to the freeways by their numbers - "the 290", "the 90" (which is the interstate thruway but used as a local freeway in the cities it passes through), etc. just as they do here in CA. I've heard freeways referred to in this way many other places as well.

So I'm genuinely interested in what you think people should be saying (and I don't see the redundancy in this method unless you exaggerate what people are saying and add to it, which is what you've done).

What in the world? (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325220)

Britney Spears got mentioned on /. because of her voice?

Re:What in the world? (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325250)

Britney Spears got mentioned on /. because of her voice?

Only because of her voice coaching. They make it sound almost like she came up with the technique, next they will have us believe this performing monkey actually programmes the synths and writes her own music.

Re:What in the world? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325270)

Natalie Portman gets mentioned on Slashdot all the time due to her hot grits.

Re:What in the world? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326148)

Her voice has a lot to do with her throat. How do you imagine she developed this skill? How do you want to imagine she developed this skill?

Marge Simpson did it first (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325222)

Marge Simpson did it first

I don't care about or know about this Vocal Fry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325234)

But I was just on the phone calling about an appliance delivery, I was just guessing that the person I was talking to was saying what I thought he was.

I can only hope that he was somebody in a foreign country, because if the rest of the country starts to sound like him, I'm going to be in trouble. Because while I can not do business with Sears again (Yes, I really didn't want to go to them anyway, but could I argue with the prices? No. Pity, since I think we'll be paying for the price later. I digress though, you don't need to worry about it.), if it becomes, more pervasive, well, that can be an issue.

Not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325236)

Chris Barnes of Cannibal Corpse was doing this years before Britney Spears decided it was "cool".

Re:Not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325680)

Chris Barnes of Cannibal Corpse was doing this years before Britney Spears decided it was "cool".

Yeah, Britney stole her whole damn act from Cannibal Corpse- including the dressing-up-as-a-schoolgirl bit. ;-)

Breaking news... (1)

Mostly Harmless (48610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325298)

...people on Long Island talk funny. I know this, because my wife has been telling me that for years. Now that I haven't lived on LI for quite some time, whenever I speak with my family back home I can hear it. Everyone on that island needs speech therapy, not just the college girls.

Britney or Antares? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325306)

Are we absolutely certain that this effect is not an artifact of Auto-tune?

I have heard kids on the street doing a remarkable mimic of T-Pain.

Isn't this a normal US-vocal thing? "registeRRRs" (4, Insightful)

Barryke (772876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325308)

When i hear the example voice ( http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/vocalfryshort.mp3 [sciencemag.org] ) speak -prior to their example- i hear the same sound in her normal speech. Note the R / H usage:


I know some would call this just pronouncing part of a word, but i clearly hear the same exact thing, and also, if i (as an euopean) try to pronounce these words with those sounds, i only succeed when i "vocal fry" as heared in the example.

I find these URRRRRR sounds in the middle of words make people sound not so smart (ppl that rather be lazy / hippies) just like how the french sound as if they can't find their words with their constant EUGHHHHHH groan in spoken language.

Re:Isn't this a normal US-vocal thing? "registeRRR (0)

methano (519830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325684)

When I hit the link, it didn't work. WTF!! My browser, Firefox, sent me to the Apple page to get some plug-in. You know, a lot of crap in FireFox has quit working. I used to always auto-login to /. But not anymore. There's all kinds of things that break every time they do one of those weekly version updates. PDF in the browser quit working a long time ago. I keep using Firefox because I'm used to it and I don't want Google or Apple to completely own my ass. I avoid MS at all costs. But don't tell me I need to use Linux. I tried that. Those same people who told me to use Linux are probably the same people who don't want me to listen to this vocal fry stuff because it's not in Ogg Vorbis or maybe they'll tell me that I should just type some 40 word command line statement and just pipe that link into some program that I should be able to write in an afternoon using FORTH if I was worth anything. I played the sound with Safari.

There's a HS gal from NCSSM that works in our university lab on occasion and I think maybe she does that vocal fry thing. I'll have to listen for it.

Re:Isn't this a normal US-vocal thing? "registeRRR (1, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326186)

Yeah, firefox needs to have a wider window between versions for plugins to catch up. To explain, the problem you are having is that some of your plugins (e.g. adobe pdf plugin) are not keeping up compatibility with the latest version of firefox, and are often lagging the release by 3-4 months, by which time people on auto-upgrade may have moved to yet the next version! This has put large numbers of people on semi-functional software, and is driving lots of people to chrome. You might almost believe that Google plants in the firefox development planning team were responsible, but that's impossible because it would be evil, and Google doesn't do any evil.

Re:Isn't this a normal US-vocal thing? "registeRRR (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325720)

Having been a student of linguistics some 30 years ago, I was intrigued. So I gave the mp3 sample a listen.

Very familiar. Back in the day, we used to call that 'creak'. The woman in the above mp3 even mentions creak.

Details are murky (the ol' forgettory ain't what it used to be), but I seem to recall my linguistics prof indicating that while creaked speech is explicitly part of certain languages, that it does occur in English in certain situations. Like a doting grandparent getting all cutesy wutesy with their toddler grandchild.

Re:Isn't this a normal US-vocal thing? "registeRRR (1)

nleaf (953206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325756)

She was most likely accentuating vocal fry throughout the clip for the purpose of demonstration.

It bothers me that you complain about the speech patterns of other peoples - particularly those you deem to be "lazy / hippies" - yet cannot find the effort to capitalize your I's and fully spell out "people."

Re:Isn't this a normal US-vocal thing? "registeRRR (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326088)

I don't know, but I think the woman in the clip is referring to the sort of clicking, two-stroke engine like sound that she makes at the end. I don't hear any of that when she speaks normally. Her R:s sound nice and clean.

I occasionally use that sound and I've always assumed that it signals "I'm too lazy/tired/drunk/confused to think properly about what you just said", so you associating it with laziness makes sense, although it could also mean that the person you're speaking with thinks that you're confusing.

A hippie is something else. Cartman in South Park is meant to be a comical character, you know.

Mongolian Britney Spears (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325362)

Now if only they learn to sing like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwANedEkqaY

Fashion influences young people! news! (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325414)

News at 11! Young people alter their behaviour to follow the fashions led by pop stars! Shocking news....

Britney my eye... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325422)

These young girls are imitating the voice of NPR's ultra-hip Diane Rehm [npr.org].

Does that make me a vocal hipster? (1)

muridae (966931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325608)

I've been speaking in the lowest register I can for years. It started after a bad day in the school choir followed by laryngitis, and I found that speaking with a 'fry' allowed me to speak when every other range was still sore and painful. It also got rid of my horrid Appalachia accent.

Oh well, can't be seen to imitate pop stars, guess I have to speak in my normal range for a while til this fad passes. That should surprise/scare a few people.

Please tell me... (0)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325620)

... my tax dollars are not being used to fund this "research".

Re:Please tell me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325722)

Probably. And with a response like yours, I see my tax dollars were wasted on your education.

Re:Please tell me... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325742)

"In the new study, scientists at Long Island University"

I doubt they got a government grant for that one. Looks like your tax dollars are headed elsewhere.

Re:Please tell me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325796)

Your tax dollars are not being used to fund this research.

Re:Please tell me... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326200)

Almost certainly not. This kind of thing is almost universally funded privately by rich people who have eccentric interests.

Oh, god... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325646)

I'm not at all surprised... but I still want to throw up.

Idiocracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325700)

I came in thinking of Fry from Futurama and discovered that, in a strange sort of way, I wasn't that far off the mark...

This is new? (5, Interesting)

haltline (125737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325760)

I'm 53, I remember girls that sounded like this all my life. And I can jokingly say "For an example of vocal fry head on down to the casino and find an old lady by a slot machine". So, my personal life experience tells me there's nothing new here.

Concerning the comments about people not using proper English: What is important is that words are used properly, that their meanings preserved so that communication can be meaningful. Confucius covered this long ago, [thinkexist.com]

And, yeah, I was hoping for Futurama Fry too :)

Britney's moaning, not vocal frying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325782)

I always thought Britney Spears did it because it sounds sexy like moaning and added it later or something.

what? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325830)

I, and everyone I know have been doing this forever. Just say "Umm" and there you go. It probably goes back 100 years or more.

They're gearing up for a new career (1)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325902)

They can always become Airline Pilots with that kind of voice...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, uh-uh-uh-h-h-h-h-h-h.
we're waiting for final clearance, uh-uh-uh-h-h-h-h-h,
before we taxi to the runway, uh-uh-uh-h-h-h-h-h....."

"Throat creak" (4, Interesting)

Kalvos (137750) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325954)

This was identified, defined and named as "throat creak" on alt.usage.english at least 10 years ago, including its first appearance in television commercials of the day.

Smoking.... (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326000)

I wonder if this has anything to do with smoking rather than simple speak patterns. According to Wikipedia, approximately 30% of college students smoke. Most smokers I know have "fry" speech patterns. At the back of my mind I seem to remember that smoking was increasing among women, but I could be wrong as I can't find any recent studies with a quick Google search.

Erica Cerra (1)

suss (158993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326062)

Erica Cerra (Deputy Jo Lupo) has been doing this more and more on Eureka and calls it "acting". I find it extremely aggravating. She sounds like she had throat surgery that went terribly wrong. I wonder how many google searches there have been for "erica cerra throat cancer"...

Placing the blame (1)

Nebulo (29412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326290)

I blame Kate Mulgrew and Alanis Morissette! And maybe Natalie Merchant, too.


Oh girlz... ;) (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326322)

Well girls do speak a different language XD High-school girls in Beijing are known to develop their own variant of Mandarin, featuring variations of consonants. It isn't usually preserved through adulthood though.

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