Wednesday, July 29, 2015

On Vocal Fry and Uptalk

Now I have a term for what I first noticed in the speech of Bill Clinton back in the early 90's :
vocal fry.  It was the way his sentences ended in hoarse soft growls, as though he had oncoming laryngitis. 

And now I have a term for what I heard coming from students who imitated the "Valley Girl" intonations:  uptalk:  ending all sentences with a question mark?

Both of these verbal  -what ?   things?  tics?  affectations?   irritated me twenty-five years ago and still aggravate me now.  I like a nice, clear, bell-round down turn at the end of a declarative sentence.
I like clear, non-gravelly vocal tones.  

Recently on Facebook, someone posted an essay by Naomi Wolf from the UK's  The Guardian
complaining about these verbal mannerisms.  Naomi Wolf implied that they are used by women and by using them, young women are turning against their own strong female voices.

Then, my poet friend Kim Bridgford wrote a rebuttal to Naomi Wolf's piece - which I presently can't find but will come back to when I find it.

Then, I heard an interesting segment on NPR's Fresh Air about these same verbal mannerisms, saying that they point to another cultural turning point in speech patterns, and that these patterns which are used , not exclusive to women or men, but to the young...say, those under thirty? and these will stay in the lilt of the language for several generations.

I won't be around to hear it happen in thirty years; suffice it to say that it offends my ear in the present.   Old fogey that I am.

1 comment:

Marion Lawless said...

You are not alone. LOL! I go crazy when I hear people using upspeak. A statement is a statement and a question is a question. And don't even get me started on young girls sucking in their cheeks and puckering their lips for 'selfies'. God help us!!! Great post! xo