You know how Kim Kardashian talks like she’s squeezing out words to her last ounce of breath? Well, that’s called vocal fry. The end of each sentence is a long, cricket-y, dragged-out slur and it sounds like when a toy is on its last bit of battery.
And this way of speaking is hugely popular, along with its sister-friend “uptalking.” What’s that? Well, it’s when you speak with an inflection? As if everything is a question? The octave is higher? You know what we’re saying?
Okay, so Naomi Wolf recently denounced this way of talking and stirred up a debate in the process. She was siding with a PLOS One study from 2014 that suggested users of vocal fry and uptalking are said to “sound less competent, less trustworthy and less hireable.”
So, Wolf took to the professional world to find cases where this might ring true. “Because of their run-on sentences, I can’t tell in a meeting when these young women have said what they have to say,” one legal professional confided to Wolf. “Their constant uptalk means I am constantly having to reassure them: ‘uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh’. It’s exhausting.”
Wolf also cites a Catalyst study, which showed that people who could self-advocate were more likely to get paid more and advance. So, it would seem, as far as the studies suggest, that speaking with confidence does somewhat relate to success.
And while, yes, there’s this desire to be the best you when interviewing or just leaving the house, but is vocal fry and uptalking really hurting everyone?
Ikuko Patricia Yuasa looked at the fry for a study found in Duke University’s American Speech, wherein she discovered that Americans in two constrasting regions – northern California and eastern Iowa – perceived this creaky voice as hesitant, nonaggressive and informal, but also educated, urban-oriented and upwardly mobile.
So, yeah, the jury’s out on whether vocal fry is gonna prevent you from getting the job you want. But it’s definitely worth thinking abouttttttttttttt?