How Can the Cause for Vocal Fry be Determined

Vocal Fry is a new trend in speech behavior, primarily among woman. The term ‘Vocal Fry’ stems from the fact that the oral sound is something like the sound of oil frying. Actually, Vocal fry is a low staccato vibration produced by a slow fluttering of the vocal chords.

This is a Vocal Fry Audio example

college girsl speaking in vocal fryIt has typically been a symptom of a voice disorder and not common. For instance, classically-trained singers know a lot about vocal fry because it is something they diligently try to fix if they are experiencing this speech disorder. However, Dr. Reena Gupta has found “relatively normal looking vocal cords” in young woman with this speech behavior.  The majority of women in college may now be using vocal fry in their regular everyday language, according to a recent study.

There are many theories as to why this trend is occurring in such a large demographic. One theory is young woman in college want to sound more forceful as they prepare to enter their careers. Vocal Fry may be an unconscious emulation of the way a man is perceived to sound in a leadership role. Another theory is that the young lady is merely copying the way pop stars speak, such as Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian.

However, this speech behavior may not be helping these young women enter the professional world, as they might believe. As stated in Why Old Men Find Young Women’s Voices So Annoying;  “One study recorded a college-aged woman’s voice while speaking in an even tone, and then again when employing the creak. When both samples were played for students in Berkeley and Iowa, those peers viewed the affectation as “a prestigious characteristic of contemporary female speech,” characterizing the creaky woman as “professional,” “urban,” “looking for her career,” and most tellingly: “not yet a professional, but on her way there.””

So, young men may not find this speech pattern to be obnoxious, but, they still recognize it to be an indication that the young lady is not yet a professional.

The source of this speech pattern should be determined and treated before long-term damage occurs. A Speech Therapist should be consulted to identify if there is a medical explanation for this speech behavior. If there is no indication of abnormalities of the larynx or any other medical condition to explain the speech pattern, then this is a learned behavior of speech.  To prevent further damage, this behavior must be unlearned. A Speech-Language Pathologist has the knowledge and procedures to diagnose and provide a treatment program.

According to Beth Fine, she reports an influx of referrals from ENTs of young women with vocal cord nodules due to excessive use of vocal fry. To learn more about vocal fry and voice disorders, contact Beth Fine, Speech-Language Pathologist, in Manhattan New York.


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