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vocal fry

What is the deal with the croaky throat noise the Kardashians make?

You’ll know it as soon as you hear it.

France Cannes Lions AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

IF YOU WERE on Twitter or listening to RTÉ Radio 1 today, you might have seen or heard references made to something called “vocal fry”.

Earlier today, both Liveline and host Philip Boucher-Hayes asked listeners to ring in if their teen was guilty of it.



No, seriously — what is vocal fry?

It refers to a very particular type of speech pattern often heard in young women.

Back in 2011, the phenomenon was described in Science Magazine as thus:

A curious vocal pattern has crept into the speech of young adult women who speak American English: low, creaky vibrations, also called vocal fry.

The New York Times later defined it as “as a raspy or croaking sound injected (usually) at the end of a sentence”. Famous practitioners of vocal fry include Kim Kardashian, Lena Dunham, Britney Spears and Ke$ha.

While the written word doesn’t really do vocal fry justice, we think Gawker‘s phonetic spelling of the word “interesting” adequately captures it.

Very interesteeeaaaaaaaaang.

News TV / YouTube

In fact, the phenomenon is so widespread and inspires so much ire that This American Life aired a segment on it earlier this year. (It should be noted that Ira Glass has serious vocal fry.)

And why are people talking about it again?

naomi The Guardian The Guardian

Last week, feminist writer Naomi Wolf penned an op-ed for The Guardian in which she implored women to abstain from vocal fry and “reclaim your strong female voice”.

In the article, she claims that many professionals, who are eager to give opportunities to young women, “flinch over the speech patterns of today’s young women” and states that such vocal patterns could serve to undermine what women have to say.

The article elicited a mixed reaction on social media, but nonetheless got people talking.

And what do people make of it all?

Well, there are some people who are really, really irritated by vocal fry.

While others think it’s just a symptom of people not liking the sound of women’s voices, full stop.

And Stephen Fry distanced himself from it altogether.

After all, it has been proven that men are just as guilty of vocal fry as young women. Just last week, Slate’s Culture Gabfest podcast isolated several examples of male guests with “vocal fry”.

Despite this, however, it is still mostly young women who find themselves on the receiving end of criticism for having vocal fry.

In a rebuttal to Naomi Wolf’s original article. Erin Riley writes in today’s Guardian that “vocal fry” is simply another excuse not to listen to women.

But even when we adopt and adapt, there are always excuses not to listen, representing the no win situation women are faced with. When they speak with assertiveness, they’re bossy or aggressive, even “bitchy”. Vocal fry is merely the most recent excuse not to listen to women.

With all that in mind…

What do you think? Is vocal fry as annoying as everyone makes it out to be?

Poll Results:

Yes, make it stop! (1833)
No, it's completely harmless and people should stop complaining about it. (516)

- Written by Amy O’Connor and originally published on


Read: Here’s why people aren’t impressed with this video of men watching their girlfriends get catcalled >

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