Friday, July 31, 2009

The Creaky Voice Craze

Why do so many women affect a Marge Simpson rattle?

The Creaky Voice is everywhere. At least half (my estimate) of all American women speak with a rasp, rattle or gargle, a groggy or gravelly voice. It might have already spread to your family. If not, you probably know someone who speaks with the Creaky Voice.

Expounded forthwith:

  • How the Creaky Voice started


  • Implications for our culture



What is the Creaky Voice?
This video shows you

"Creaky Voice" is an actual term created by linguists. (You can't make this stuff up.) You will find a Wikipedia link below. Here is a professional woman using the typical Creaky Voice.



The Cringe Factor
Am I the only one who doesn't get this voice?

It's hard to imagine anyone thinking Lindsay's voice is an asset. It sounds like she's sitting in a motorized lounger. Her creak is far from the worst example. Women afflicted with the Creaky Voice sound tentative and immature, while others sound unbearably harsh and grating. Lots of people must find it pleasing. Otherwise, the creak wouldn't be so popular.
     The Creaky Voice could be the new standard. Maybe I'm just out of step. I find the voice so odd that it makes me wonder what's going on. Does it signal a retreat from feminism? A transition to a New Feminism? Why are women abandoning a clear, authoritative voice for a quavering rattle?

Can People Help How They Talk?
Am I taking unfair shots at people who can't help how they talk? I believe the Creaky Voice is an affectation. It's a fad similar to irresistible expressions that are all the rage: "At the end of the day," "Having said that," "LOL," and so on. It's mass mimicry, copycat contagion. People want to spend the common currency of everyday communication. If you move to Texas, you could find yourself talking with a twang just to fit in.
     Linguists call the Creaky Voice "vocal fry" for a reason. You'll fry your vocal cords and the nerves of those who have to listen to you.
     I know a voice-over artist with a beautiful voice. She can switch to the Creaky Voice any time she wants. She warns that women who persist in using the Creaky Voice can develop unhealthy nodules on their vocal cords. To achieve the creak, she has to force an unnatural "glottal" or throaty voice that causes an unwelcome strain. "Just to sound cute?" She says. "It's not worth it."



How Did This Start?
Or, Where have you gone, Sally Kellerman?

Your intrepid investigator traces the creak back to its source

I've been cringing a lot lately. The media are saturated with the Creaky Voice. Dreadful creaky marauders have apparently driven silken-voiced Sally Kellerman from the voice-over racket. So many women in the media use the Creaky Voice, I wondered where it started. There has to be an uber-cool alpha chick out there with such an infectious voice that everyone wants to copy it. Which cultural icon can we blame? Katie Couric? Hillary Clinton?
     As a service to readers, I assigned myself a mission: Identify the transcendent trendsetter who started the craze. I listened to clips of Friends, Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City, and MTV. In the interest of observing social trends, I even suffered through an episode of America's Next Top Model. I audited countless clips of prominent women. My quest led to such icons as Madonna, Princess Di, J-Lo, the Olsen Twins, Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Margaret Thatcher.

The Early Years
Elmer Fudd started it all back in the 1940s. Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow's mom) and reporter Cokie Roberts are creaky pioneers. They were creaky before it was cool.

The Clinton Era
Comedians made careers giving impressions of Bill Clinton's famous creak. Bill brought the creak out of the vocal backwoods and gave it new respectability. Notable creakers like Eddie Murphy and John Travolta didn't sound so pretentious anymore.

Valley Girl
My first thought was the movie Valley Girl. I rented a copy. Nope. The girls all sound pretty normal. In fact, they really don't sound much like the Valley Girl stereotype.
     A better movie for sampling trendy voices and speech mannerisms is American Pie (1999). A box-office smash, the movie undoubtedly influenced millions of young women affect a Perky Chirp (see below).

Non-Starters
Henry Kissinger's baritone rattle sounds like a disorder, as does Joan Rivers's daffy rasp. Disordered voices are difficult to copy, so I can't give credit to Henry or Joan for starting the craze. I think every kid tried to copy Froggy on The Little Rascals. Some of us learned a lesson: Just be yourself.

Trendy Voice Pioneers
Herve Villechaize (Fantasy Island) was a trendy-voice pioneer. The mimicry may not be intentional, but millions of women now vocalize like Villechaize. What's more, the name of his character (Tattoo) anticipated the body art craze.
     Fran Drescher brilliantly affected a grating, cringe-inducing voice for her hit TV show The Nanny. Who knew so many women would take her example and run with it? Compared to today's typical female voice, the Nanny sounds angelic.
     A woman's deep, raspy voice is thought to be "sultry." Kathleen Turner has one of Hollywood's most alluring sultry voices. The gravelly tones supposedly give men visions of sexual nirvana. Followed by a quick stab of terror that you've gone to bed with a MAN!
     Billy Mays is reviled in some quarters for trying to be the ultimate obnoxious TV pitchman. I have news for you. Billy Mays (RIP) was merely reflecting the media culture, not influencing it. Tabloid TV has forgotten more about being annoying and irritating than Billy Mays ever knew.



And the Winner Is--Marge Simpson!

It has to be Marge Simpson. She's the only cultural icon with enough pull to make women start using a rattle that sounds something like saws cutting through logs, tires going over raised lane markers, an outboard motor, or a spinning wheel of fortune.

This marks the first time in history that a cartoon character has influenced an entire generation of women to change their voice.













A New Feminism?

Since the early days of the Feminist Movement, women have experimented with components of the female image. Some of you may be too young to recall a period when large numbers of women refrained from shaving their legs or armpits. They shunned the use of bras, girdles, and pantyhose. For a while, makeup was verboten.
     With a tip of the bonnet to feminism, today's woman assumes an imposing tripartite name when she marries. By tacking her husband's surname onto hers, she can be traditional and modern! I have to admit, a long tonguetwister name like "Eva Longoria Parker" has that perfect touch of gravitas today's woman needs.
     Tattoos and body piercings are compulsory for the modern woman. Technology has empowered enhancement on every front: contact lenses in designer hues, liposuction, implants, botox, cosmetics, and plastic surgery. With every aspect of the female image optimized, there was little left to improve. Except the voice. Today's trendy voice is the Perky Chirp. It's a whiny warble with Valley Girl overtones on a creaky base.
     Is the Creaky Voice the latest step in an evolving feminism? The voice is soft, non-threatening, acquiescent. It suggests easy familiarity and closeness. Women have decided a twerpy sound is better than a resonant womanly voice.
     On the other hand, if the voice is raised for emphasis, the Creaky Voice's evil twin emerges: A brassy, strident utterance like the blood curdling caterwaul of financial adviser Suze Orman. You want to cover your ears. It's as if women have decided shouting equals persuasion. When a woman shouts it can be an ear-splitting shock wave, like the piercing prattle of Sarah Palin. In my professional life, I've encountered numerous women who raise their voice to assert themselves. As the volume increases, the pitch become shrill and dissonant. I would advise any professional woman to get voice training. It's possible to pump up the volume without assaulting listeners with "a voice that could strip the paint off the door."


Generation Why
A New Feminism?

Members of Northwestern University's national championship women's lacrosse team sparked a furor when they wore flip-flops to meet President Bush at the White House. One of the team members said she hadn't given it a second thought. The incident awakened the nation to the notion that Generation Y is now shaping society, for good or ill. They've developed a fresh take on the stodgy decorum of their elders. They have little regard for formality, including formal communication.
     Everyday face-to-face communication is diminishing in value. The really meaningful exchanges are conducted on Facebook, Twitter or by texting. You can have a broad network of friends you have never seen much less met. There is less need for interpersonal skills. An unflattering voice is not a hindrance of any kind. Young women are now free to use the voice as a casual fashion accessory, like the flip-flop. If a pleasant voice is not important to them, who am I to complain?


Have I Unfairly Singled Out Women?

My research led me to watch a few minutes of the reality show The Bachelor. It's a creaky showcase. I was shocked to see that not only does the bachelor himself use an Elmer Fudd voice but so does his entire family! More and more men in the media are going creaky. It won't be long before those of us with an ordinary voice will be outnumbered.
     If it isn't just a chick thing then my theories about feminism are a crock. It means that communication styles are merging. Men and women have stumbled upon a unisex creak that strikes just the right tone for the 21st Century: a bland monotone, a feeble, non-threatening rattle with every sentence trailing off like a Harley receding in the distance.
     Combining a stylish creak with a voice that is already harsh, rasping, brassy, piercing, or grating sends the cringe quotient into the stratosphere. You can't watch TV or listen to the radio for more than a minute or two without hearing voices that make cicadas sound like meadowlarks. Pleasing voices like Kellerman's are out. The View is a great show for sampling trendy voices. You get Perky Chirp (Elisabeth) as well as gravelly and croaky (Whoopi and Joy), not to mention Barbara's droning yammer. Perky Chirp is a variant of the Adorable Warble many women have adopted. The Adorable Warble isn't for everyone, however. Some women who attempt it end up with the Grating Gargle, a harsh, throaty voice with a scrapey, metallic sound like the nightmarish industrial noise from Eraserhead.

The Worst Creak
You're probably wondering: In all my hours of research, did I find a voice I really couldn't stand? Even if you didn't wonder, I'll announce my choice anyway: Drew Barrymore! She talks like the Valley Girl stereotype. With the ahs, ums, butuhs, y'knows, likes, and the uptalk*, she's really tough to listen to.

* Uptalk: The practice of ending sentences with a rising inflection? As if asking a question? It's become very popular? Combined with the Creaky Voice, the cringe factor doubles? Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about?

A Cavalcade of Cringe
Those with day jobs are lucky enough to steer clear of the financial news channels (Fox Business, CNBC, and Bloomberg). These outlets are setting the standard for infotainment, so expect more programs that make Billy Mays sound like Fred Rogers. Here's the concept: financial news is so boring, we'll package it like a WWE smackdown. A winning formula, apparently. Booya!
6969D-shouter It's no accident that Brian Williams, a veteran of CNBC's stable of shouters, took over the NBC Nightly News. The classy, low-key delivery of Huntley & Brinkley was so 20th Century. There are so many offenders, both male and female, it's hard to name the most wretched. For starters, if you're a glutton for punishment, see how long you can listen to CNBC's Melissa Lee before you start gnawing the buttons off your TV remote. Her grating voice makes Suzanne Pleshette sound like Emma Watson. A Billy Mays commercial only lasts a few excruciating seconds. Who can stand a full hour of Larry Kudlow bellowing like a wildebeest?

My Favorite Celebrity Voice
Vanessa Williams's speaking voice really appeals to me. I have never watched the show Ugly Betty, so I'm not sure if she's joined the creaky crowd. I sure hope not. She has a beautiful voice. I was a fan of newscaster Lara Logan's dispatches from Afghanistan. Then she went creaky. Diane Sawyer is going creaky. It can't be stopped!


Vanessa Williams has a beautiful speaking voice. This video is highly worthwhile even if you don't care about voice trends. Gloria Steinem's voice is pretty creaky. Maybe she started it.

Tina Fey Mocks The Creak
In Date Night she lampoons the annoying speech affectation now used by at least 80% of all American women under 30.



Disappointment of the Year

When I heard Hailee Stienfeld, the 13-year-old actress in the movie True Grit I had high hopes that she might represent a turning point for trendy voices. In the movie, she speaks with a sublime feminine voice. Perhaps she would be the new trendsetter who would reverse the dismal trend toward vocal mediocrity. My hopes were dashed when I looked up her Jimmy Fallon interview on YouTube. She uses the same adorable warble affected by so many teenage girls. It isn't the dreadful creak so many of us have grown to loathe, but my admiration for the girl took a nosedive. That beautiful voice was just for the movie.




Find Out More...
Contained herein are links to Creaky Voice articles and information. Thank you.

Awful Creak on NPR - I picked on poor Drew Barrymore. If you want to hear a truly hideous creak, listen to this report from NPR's Alix Spiegel. How does someone with a voice like this get a job in broadcasting?

Executive Speech Training Coach Sims Wyeth - I'm just a goofy blogger. Sims Wyeth is a respected speech coach. See what Sims has to say about the Creaky Voice.

The Pacific Northwest's Distinctive Dialect - Many locals, especially women, speak in what experts call "creaky voice."

More wretched voices at momversation.com - A cringefest extraordinaire! Some of these women have synthesized the worst vocal styles out there. I like Asha Dornfest, however.

Listening for the Voices of Women - In the book's preface, Ms. Gilligan described women who censored their thoughts and feelings, who spoke in "false feminine voices" that came from "high in the head," or else in "guarded or impersonal" registers.

"a voice that could strip the paint off the door of No.10"—Wish I'd said that.

Voice coaching--a cure for irritable vowel syndrome - Margaret Thatcher's aides send for a voice coach. The Conservative leader ditches a voice that could strip the paint off the door of No.10 for something deeper and more resonant.

I read it on Wikipedia - Just to show you I didn't make up "Creaky Voice," here's the official lowdown from Wikipedia.

Chicken Scratches and Creaky Voice - Like your intrepid investigator, NPR hosts Martha Barnette and Grant Barrett are on the cutting edge of voice trends with their creak report.

Conversational Grunts in English - There are serious people out there studying voice characteristics including Creaky Voice. Here's an example complete with voice analysis prints.

Fix Your Voice
What if you can't get rid of the creak?

When a fad becomes a mania, there are always a few contrarians who rebel. Enough, they say, it's time to erase the tramp stamp, go back to an ordinary voice. Some may find, to their horror, that the creak has become a habit, like biting the fingernails. Not to worry. Amazon has a good selection of books that teach you how to fix your voice. Here's one by Roger Love, voice coach to the stars. Think how horrible Suze Orman and Dr. Laura must have sounded before they worked with Roger!

Roger's singing students range from The Beach Boys to Eminem, and his acting clients include celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix. He also instructs professional speakers such as Anthony Robbins and Suze Orman, as well as radio personalities such as Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Glenn Beck.


Are You A Fan of the Creaky Voice?
Please share your thoughts

Perky Chirp, Adorable Warble, or Grating Gargle--which voice do you notice the most? Will you be glad when the Craze is over? Do you have a new style to add?

If your voice creaks, I hope you don't feel ridiculed. It's just my take on a fascinating new trend. I'm sure your husband, boyfriend, boss, or co-workers would not want you to change.

Please let readers know why you like the Creaky Voice.


168 comments:

Fred said...

Dead on. You've just articulated beautifully what has been irritating me for the last few years. Why in the world would all these women and especially younger women, think that this is attractive or cool? Sounding like you're a thirty-plus year smoking veteran is not attractive and so many girls affect this for some unknown reason. Great post. Thank you for making a point I've tried to bring to light for some time now.

Anonymous said...

Listen you any You Tube of Amy Goodman.

truthteller said...

Especially young girls in their 20s. They sound so damn irritating. When I was young, I went to an all-girl academy (a plus) where the teachers were always after us to modulate our voices to a pleasant tone. These modern girls are too lazy and don't care how dreadful they sound, whether it's the chirp or the creak, it's all ugly.

Peter said...

I second Anonymous's choice of Amy Goodman - definitely the worst creaky voice I've ever heard.

Rufus Quail said...

I just saw a clip of Miley Cyrus. I thought it was a hilarious impression of a trendy voice. Not! That's how she really talks. Millions of girls are copying her. A pleasant voice is harder than ever to find.

Heather said...

I went on an internet search not knowing that "creaky" was the term and found that I am not nuts in thinking that something odd is happening to peoples voices!
The creak however effects male and female voices and people of all ages, for all the 20 something female seems to be the most effected.
Middle aged politicians here in Australia are also effected.
I just don't get it.
Could there be something in the air?
Some chemical that is causing our vocal cords to shrivel!

Rufus said...

Thanks for reading, Heather. It's surprising someone prominent hasn't commented on the craze. I sent this to Malcolm Gladwell hoping he would take up the subject. No reply of course. I agree, just about every woman under 30 uses a wimpy creak. It's to the point that it's refreshing to hear someone using a natural voice.

Anonymous said...

This is great. I have been noticing this voice for years and it drives me crazy. I hear announcers using it and I wonder how they got their jobs: the answer must be that most people don't notice it. How can that be? Sometimes a group of young American women sounds like quacking ducks! All you have to do is hear a young British woman (especially an actress) speak to know it doesn't have to be this way.

Rufus Quail said...

Politics aside, I think Condoleezza Rice has a sweet voice. Nice delivery. I've been enjoying listening to her promote her book. More women should follow her example.

Daniel said...

You nailed it. Creaky voice is an awful sound, making it very difficult to listen to the woman employing it. I'm hoping for a change in fashion.

Rufus Quail said...

Another dreadful creaker is Chris Hansen of To Catch a Predator fame. No one using a natural voice talks like Hansen, so I have to wonder why he deliberately affects an annoying, grating voice. It's made him millions though, so I guess he's the smart one.

historygirl said...

You have no idea how thankful I am to have come across your blog! I have been going out of my mind over this thing for years, because it's so awful and irritating, and so ubiquitous that my poor ears feel constantly assaulted; I'm to the point where I actually dread it when someone starts to speak - I immediately tense up, and can relax only when the speaker turns out to NOT have this absurd affect (which, of course, rarely happens.) Listening to NPR is an absolute carnival of horrors in that almost every female reporter on there indulges in this annoying practice; I can't believe that there's no quality control or some sort of broadcasting standard over there. I'm thinking of sending them a letter of outrage, but I need to muster up the energy to do it - listening to that horrible creak, everywhere and all day long, really wears a person down.

Rufus Quail said...

Thanks for reading, historygirl. The craze marches on. Just last night, I watched Jeopardy! Oh no, a creaker! You can't get away from 'em. On the local news, they fired a female anchor and replaced her with a woman who has a horrible brassy voice.

JPG said...

My mother, a retired school teacher, mentioned creaky voice to me to ask me what I thought about it. She claimed it was very irritating and that she hears it everywhere. I had never heard of it & didn't know what she was talking about. I found this site and it has helped explain what it was she was referring to. In response, I honestly have no idea what is so irritating. I have listened to all the examples and aside from Marge Simpson, I don't hear anything abnormal. I asked my wife to view them and she doesn't hear it either. We both teach college, so perhaps we're too inundated with it to notice it as abnormal.

Rufus Quail said...

JPG is right. The creaky voice is not abnormal anymore. JPG has confirmed that the creaky voice is now standard with young women. An ordinary, natural voice is abnormal now.

Anonymous said...

Melissa Block on NPR's All Things Considered is my most egregious offender.

historygirl said...

You are quite right, JPG, in commenting that this unfortunate phenomenon is not “abnormal” (as is Rufus, in his rueful observation that it IS the new norm (sigh...)

The reason I find it so irritating (and perhaps this is also the case with your mom, JPG) is because although it's no longer abnormal in our culture, it is most definitely not natural; I say this not because it's merely my regretful opinion, but because it's simply a fact: creaky voice is an affectation, not a natural way of speaking.

Speech that is natural comes from the diaphragm; it employs a healthy dose of air which pushes the voice past the vocal cords and gets it out smoothly and effortlessly. If you do a Google search of “creaky voice” or “laryngealisation,” you will find, among other things, actual clinical observations which refer to an unnatural (and unhealthy) tightening of the vocal cords; this is consistent with the fact that a creaky voice utilizes a much more shallow style of speaking, which comes from the throat instead of the diaphragm, resulting in a very constricted and rigid vocal pattern.

Because the voice is so constricted and, literally, creaky, it registers on a section of the auditory scale that is extremely unpleasant - and almost painful - for some of us to bear. After all, there IS a reason that we put oil on creaky door hinges. JPG, you and your wife have no idea how lucky you are to not be bothered by it - I would pay good money to have some sort of “filter” like that!

The fact that creaky voice is so prevalent simply means that a lot of people are imitating it. My guess is that it’s probably unconscious, because for the life of me I can not imagine ANYone deliberately choosing to adopt such an obnoxious quality. I’m certain that had I started talking that way as a child, my parents would’ve given me SUCH a look and said “What in the world is wrong with you? Go clear your throat, and talk like a normal person!”

For me, there is an additional component: the fact that this way of speaking is so unnatural registers on some very primal level as such (in the same way that a fake laugh is so disconcerting - because laughter is supposed to be naturally spontaneous and disarming, and if someone fakes it, it's an immediate red flag in the primal brain that something is amiss.)

To anyone who is still not convinced of the horrors of this infectious malady (forgive the drama, but it’s the only therapy I have against this rampant curse...), here are two good examples: an interview with actress Natalie Portman, and an instructional video for Google Chrome. Have a listen, but be prepared to jam your fingers into your ears to keep them from bursting a blood vessel.

Natalie Portman

Google Chrome

Donna said...

Thank you! I have wondered if I was the only one who noticed this annoying affectation. Whenever I hear someone with this fake rasp I want to shout: Clear your throat, dammit!!!!

Rufus Quail said...

Thanks historygirl and Donna. Last night I caught a few minutes of the idiotic show The Bachelor. The show makes me cringe even without all the women using trendy twerpy voices. I wish I could be like JPG and not hear the "obnoxious quality" of their voices.

Anonymous said...

I am a speech and language pathologist. What you descirfbe is technically known as "glottal fry" at least in the case of Amy Goodman. I heard her last week, though, and she sounded great. Somebody has been giving that woman some voice therapy.

Scott said...

I thought I was going crazy, listening to Melissa Block on NPR--"Am I the only one?" She has a fine voice that goes to hell in a creak and a growl; along with most of the other female, NPR reporters.
I do wish I understood more why it gets to me. I think it might have something to do with an aversion to hubris, narcissism, etc., along those lines.

Anonymous said...

It's not a fad. Creaky voice is most common in the Pacific Northwest dialect in North America (yes we have a distinctive way of speaking that DOES differ from California). It is also not merely reserved for women alone. I am a male-bodied PNW native & I speak with a creaky voice. We also emphasize are S's quite a bit & tend to drop the -ed at the ends of words a lot.

IMO Western forms of American English dialects are the least researched & most over looked forms of speaking in the country.

Rufus Quail said...

I lived in the Pacific Northwest from 1975-1985 and didn't notice all that creakin' goin' on. I also emphasized (not strongly enough?) that the creak isn't limited to women. It's just that women seem to have made it a fad. If it started in the Northwest, it has spread like a virus across the country. I'm not alone in this observation. Thanks for reading, Mr. Northwest native.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 27 year old woman who works at university and I noticed this a few years ago and found it strange. I do not speak this way. Many of the female students do and it makes me want to bang my head on the wall! I'm in Florida and most of the students at the school are from the northeast. I don't know many fellow Florida peers with the "creaky voice. "

Catherine said...

I never really understood what was so annoying about this trend either, although I was (and still am) confused about why this has become so trendy. However, I just listened to the examples at the links provided by historygirl, and I can now honestly say that I can appreciate others' distaste for the creaky voice. It still doesn't necessarily irritate me (other than sometimes sounding overly sexual... more on that later); but when I listened with intent, I can see why someone else might be bothered. There is a constant grogginess to it. I guess it's like nails on a chalkboard (which DOES bother me). Some people aren't bothered by it; but, for those who are, it's pure torture. It must be the same with this creaky voice. I tried to put myself in the shoes of those who are irritated by it by imagining as if the creaky voice were nails on a chalkboard, which is my personal irritation. This must be pure torture for you all. I feel for you!

On another note, as I previously mentioned, the creaky voice can sometimes sound sexual to me. I remember going through the voicemails on my family's answering machine a while back. They were messages for my husband from women at places of business. They were just normal messages, of course, but I remember wondering why EVERY single woman sounded like she just got done having sex (or maybe was in the middle of it!) and rolled out of bed to call my husband! It was disturbing, to the say the least. Now, after stumbling upon what I've just now learned is referred to as "the creaky voice," at least I know WHY it was like that!

Elsie said...

Just so embarrasing! That Lindsay Jones chick! And, P.S., she's not that young. Or at least not that young looking. (Too much partying?) Other examples, Meghan McCain, that NYC girl from TMZ. I hope this trend passes pronto!

Anonymous said...

This article made me cry. Whenever I've heard any self-voice recordings and played them back, I've always been appalled by the sound of my voice. My voice does this creaky thing naturally and I can't seem to make it stop. I hate it. I've never been good at verbally communicating with people, so it may stem from that. I don't know, I don't know what it is but I'm certainly not doing it on purpose. Thanks for making me feel even more insecure about my verbal communication skills. Nice.

Anonymous said...

When I'm stressed or feeling "on the defensive" is when I most notice my voice doing this, and no matter how much I clear my throat, I can still feel this happening. I seriously doubt it's a fad or anyone doing this on purpose - if most young women are speaking this way, then perhaps there is something social going on that is causing widespread uncertainty amongst young women.

Elsie said...

I'm sure this article is about the phenomenon of young women making their voices like that on purpose. It is not about ppl. with communication skills challenges.

Rufus said...

I wish a prominent expert would study the phenomenon. I believe the voice is very easy to copy and young women are using it to fit in. It's not necessarily on purpose. When I mentioned it to the voice-over actress, she said "You mean like this?" and switched to a perfect creaky voice. So I know it's easy to copy. Watch Tina Fey's hilarious impression.

Thanks Catherine for the funny comment. Yes, Elsie, I'm aware of the annoying NYC girl on TMZ. I think her voice is a fine example of the Perky Chirp.

The sad Anonymous poster should take heart that voices can be improved. Click on the Amazon listing above to browse books on the subject. I suggest counting your blessings, however. Having a trendy voice without even trying has to be in your favor. If a person can feel insecure from reading a blog post by some crackpot (me), a person can also feel encouraged by the suggestion that having a naturally creaky voice enhances your verbal communication skills. Nice!

Anonymous said...

Miley Cyrus has a pretty bad creak...and she's a 'singer' too! ugh, can't stand listening to her talk!
As a PNW native I never really noticed the creak until I read an article about it, and came here. I have a 'phone voice' that people love, and I realized that I drop the creak then. I'll do better to drop it from my everyday speaking!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! My God, this voice has irritated me since listening to the girls at my sister's middle-school graduation in the 1980s. Only now these girls are grown up and on my radio and television.

Creaky quackers are the worst, since their voices combine the back-of-the-throat creaky door with a cringeworthy staccato quack.

I hestitate to call this a trend because that implies a conscious awareness. I doubt these women even hear the creak -- in themselves or their peers. Obviously casting directors don't hear it either, or the women would never be cast in commercial like, oh, Swiffer or Crayola.

The women on The Bachelor, as noted, are the worst. And if they're annoying while you're watching them, try having the show on in the background while you're working on the computer. On second thought, I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

The only way this vocal habit will stop is if it becomes a cultural stigma -- like a mullet. So comedians, the ball is in your court.

Sharon said...

Thank you so much for your article on what I also find to be a very irritating habit,and learning that I'm not the only one! Instead of sounding like a unique individual, these women are sounding like mindless ding-bats, devoid of their own identity. I'm so thankful that my daughters know who they are:)

Dsoderblog.com said...

Another popular tendency is delivering sentences and statements in a question-like tone. Upspeak? Both men and women do it, but it can come across as uncertain and whining. I have to say it is right up there with the creaky voice craze.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=upspeak

Anonymous said...

Maybe some people think it sounds pleasant?

Anonymous said...

Oh...I'm SO glad I found this site! I too, thought I was the only one who finds this type of voice crazy-making!
The worst one to date is on the latest Tempur-Pedic mattress commercial where a young woman leans into her man and grates something about "knowing the all right moves." Every single word is creaky and causes me to hit the mute button before she's done! Aaarrrggghhh!!

Anonymous said...

And another thing...what about these young women who employ a phony lisp, or hiss any word with an "s" in it? Do they think it makes them sound more cutsey-girly?
The lisp seems to becoming more and more prevalant with women who do voice-overs for television ads. Another reason to hit the mute button!!

Anonymous said...

Sadly, creaky voice is alive and well here in Canada too. It drives me nuts. Some young reporters use it too and I can't understand why they as professionals haven't had vocal training. Don't they know how awful they sound?

P said...

(Peter here - from earlier May 2010 Amy Goodman comment)
Regarding historygirl's excellent post: I checked out her Google Chrome link and immediately recognized the voice from another video about Google Latitude
here.

In fact I posted the following comment on YouTube a year ago about this "croaksperson's" -- sorry :) -- incredibly annoying voice:
"She has one of the worst cases of "creaky voice" (it's a known speech pattern, look it up) that I've ever heard.
Notice at the end of sentences how her throat constricts and she sounds like a frog.
"What-ever-r-r-r-r-r-rrrr" I can hear her croak if she ever reads this :) "

It's obviously a (probably unconsciously) learned speech pattern, like "uptalk", but I don't know why more people aren't aware of it.
There's an interesting article about the phenomenon from the Financial Times (2005) Why do women now sound like frogs?

Elsie said...

I was watching ABC's special Mommywood, on Dateline, and...adding to the list of creakers, designer Rachel Zoe! Yikes! (oops, bad speech!) She may be a talented stylist and host, but the creaky upspeak does not suit the 38-year-old.

Uncle Sam said...

Cuba Gooding, Jr. and David Schwimmer are quite offensive male creakers. Check out the interviewer in this video of TIME 10 Questions for Sylvester Stallone. One of the worst I've ever heard. Stallone, on the other hand, has a smooth, soothing voice. I'm falling asleep just writing about it right now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNeAJuJkA5M&feature=related

tealeafer said...

I must say this is internet heaven for me. Like historygirl, it was a thrill to come across this article (and a few other shorter write-ups) on something niggling I haven't been able to put a name to before; wondering how ubiquitous it actually was. It's a pleasure to find a topic like this discussed with intelligence and wit; hope the comments keep coming!

I find it fascinating and horrifying all at once, which is probably normal with a lot of human quirks. I can't recall being aware of creaky voice until it started showing up a number of years ago in tv commercials using female voiceovers, mainly for products targeted directly at women. My guess is that it was supposed to come across as knowing, sexy, girly and wiseacre - it was, and still is, extremely annoying, almost insulting.

One recent commercial featuring the singer Carrie Underwood is a prime example of creaky voice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O0nmmAIo24

The more I heard that type of voice on tv, the more I started to hear it being used by women in everyday life. It just seems to be getting worse and worse. I have heard some women's voices creak so badly that it borders on the ridiculous; I wonder how they manage to not have it mentioned to them at work. I remember overhearing a conversation between two obviously professional women (who looked to be in their late 20s, early 30s) speaking not only creakily, but with upspeak and and plenty of "likes".

Like being exposed to an accent, I can see how easily it can slip into your way of speaking. As mentioned, it's become a norm.

Anonymous said...

It's gotten so I have to mute the sound on most commercials. Swiffer, Crayola, General Mills, Excedrin, Toshiba, and quite a few others have hired the same creaky-voiced woman I used to mute on one allergy medication commercial. Now she's everywhere, even introducing Anderson Cooper 360. Must I give up television altogether? Who casts these ads??? Perhaps if we boycott the products they'll realize their ads aren't working.

bltb said...

I must say this is internet heaven for me! Like historygirl, it was a thrill to come across this article (and a few other shorter write-ups) on something niggling I haven't been able to put a name to before; wondering how ubiquitous it actually was. It's a pleasure to find a topic like this discussed with intelligence and wit; hope the comments keep coming!

I find it fascinating and horrifying all at once, which is probably normal with a lot of human quirks. I can't recall being aware of creaky voice until it started showing up a number of years ago in tv commercials using female voiceovers, mainly for products targeted directly at women. My guess is that it was supposed to come across as knowing, sexy, girly and wiseacre - it was, and still is, extremely annoying, almost insulting.

One recent commercial featuring the singer Carrie Underwood is a prime example of creaky voice:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O0nmmAIo24

The more I heard that type of voice on tv, the more I started to hear it being used by women in everyday life. It just seems to be getting worse and worse. I have heard some women's voices creak so badly that it borders on the ridiculous; I wonder how they manage to not have it mentioned to them at work. I remember overhearing a conversation between two obviously professional women (who looked to be in their late 20s, early 30s) speaking not only creakily, but with upspeak and and plenty of "likes".

Like being exposed to an accent, I can see how easily it can slip into your way of speaking. As mentioned, it's become a norm.

Kelly said...

It's been said many times already - but thank you for posting this. It makes me batty. I've been noticing it for years and thought maybe young women used the affectation to sound sexy/nonthreatening. Kind of like how some grown women talk or sing like little children - the older you are, the less "cute" it is (not that it was cute to me to begin with.)

I'm totally confused about the references to the Pacific Northwest. I was born there and lived there (within close proximity to Seattle, no less) until 7 years ago. I'm 42 and have not noticed the affectation in my voice or in the voices of my friends and family. It was when I moved to California that I noticed Creaky Voice and it began to drive me mad.

I wonder how it begins - I try to imitate for comedy's sake and I can't seem to fake it. Do they practice until they get it just right? That would be something to witness...

Here is the very worst offender on the planet (just in case some of you were still fuzzy on the issue.)

http://www.mystyle.com/mystyle/b6912_mystyle_quick_switch_feminine_lace_skirt.html

Anonymous said...

I was so happy to run across this article. I have been cringing at the speech of my niece for years but nobody else seemed to get it. After spending an annoying weekend with her I decided to try and find out if it was just me or if there really was such a thing as creaky voice. I feel validated.

Anonymous said...

"Swiffer, Crayola, General Mills, Excedrin, Toshiba, and quite a few others have hired the same creaky-voiced woman I used to mute on one allergy medication commercial."

I know what you mean about the Swiffer/Crayola voice. I think I first heard her on MTV. I used to have to mute an allergy medication commercial, too. The woman had a creaky voice and a dog named Rufus.

Pallavi said...

Thanks so much for posting. Although I am a female..i really hate the way some of the females in my office..in the bus talk..more so because it's quiet otherwise and their creaky weirdly modulated voices just stand out too much and I just don't want to hurt them by asking them to shut up!! Why do they talk like this...some of them in my office are so bitch but have this nasty sugar coated way of speaking by acting too upscale.. I am going to resort to listening to music to control my anger.

Uncle Sam said...

Warren Buffett is one of the worst male creakers. Or is it chronic? Can he not help making the ungodly trembling croak he makes when he speaks?
And, of course, there's good old Bill Clinton.
I actually love Miley Cyrus's speaking voice, but I hate it at the same time. I think it's the fact that it's so deep that I like it, but...she has this weird affectation. Not so much a creak as just...a sort of Valley girl sound that I can't really describe.

Anonymous said...

RE: Kelly

Good God, how did that woman in the clip get that job? Not only does her voice register a 10 on the Creakster scale, she's got a lazy accent: "clebrities," "handbug" "twear" instead of "to wear." She sounds like a complete idiot.

brindlegirl said...

i googled this and was gratified to find a qualification for this voice which has been driving me crazy, although i think the examples you offer are not very explicative. Rachel Zoe is one of the worst offenders. it strikes me as an affectation which may have come from trying to fit in with gay men's voices in the fashion industry. Yes, we heard it first from Drew Barrymore. and also now the Kardashians. it's a huge affectation and makes the speaker sound rather unintelligent and definitely annoying. and the copycats proliferate. i think the speakers think it sounds sophisticated and wealthy, but that's not what i get from it. i wish it would go away, but you know that's unlikely.

Anonymous said...

I think that the creaky voice, the questioning upturn, some of the Valley-Girlisms, and the whiny put downs such as "As if.." and "Sha'-A-a" have been developing since the '80s. When I first noticed the combination in the '90s my take was that it was a kind of hybrid of SoCal teen talk and East Coast preppy. The creaky voice has an echo of the dismissive class snobbishness of East Coast prep - like leaning over to the next girl to deliver a nasty comment about another girl conspiratorially. I think sociologically that people use their manner of speaking as they use their manner of dress - to signal to others that they are from the same class. As with any affectation of this sort that arises Up-class, it travels Down-class. Interestingly though, even male preppies affect an Urban Thug style - mimicking those of a lower socioeconomic class. My final thought: Girls mimic Upscale to signify the social class they aspire to. Men downclass thier presentation to enhance their perceived masculinity.

Anonymous said...

I came here while searching for information on a new affectation that's pretty annoying. It's the practice of deliberately stuttering or stammering. I suppose it's intended to sound genuine, spontaneous, and non-intellectual.

I've only noticed it in the last year or so.

Anonymous said...

That fake stuttering, along with the creaky voice is rampant on NPR/VPR.
"S-S-So, are you telling me that you've never heard of the Magna Carta?" (All the creak is on the "Magna Cartaaaaaaa")

Green Conservative said...

I am thrilled to find that others are also being tortured by this trend and noy just me. There are two products I didn't see mentioned yet creaky ads run constantly on network TV here in NYC: Suburu and Yoplait. Could be the same infernally creaky woman but I swear on all that is holy I will NEVER buy either product! I cannot get that hideous voice out of my head when I think of either of them!

Elsie said...

Anonymous, Aug. 2, 2011, Right on! That voice over on the commercials! I've noticed that gal's voice sounds creakier on some commercials. Commercials have always employed the worst phony voices, ie, the 'soothing', whispery voice. One big example Kaiser Permanente!!!Ugh. --Now to be fair, it is not only young women who use the creaky upspeak. It's men too, young and not so young. The trendier the clothes, the creakier the voice. Now, the Valley Girl voice, and more recently the creaky/upspeak has been spoofed. It hasn't really bothered me until it started affecting people in important positions. I don't really mind it on the Kardashians, but when I'm watching CNN, PBS, or any other news program, and they cut to a correspondent or Wall Street expert, and I hear that babyish, creaky, groggy, draggy, upspeaky voice, I just about lose it.

Maggie said...

When I first noticed this trend a few years back the best definition I could find for it was "self-deprecating affectation"; maybe not a bad definition as I now see the link between the voice and other trends such as fake boobs and spelling one's name with an "i" on the end. Drew Barrymore was one of my favorite offenders but I believe she's now been trumped by Rachel Zoe, who seems totally incapable of saying even a single word in a clear voice. I wonder how her husband stands it, but maybe he's blessed like JPG and doesn't hear it.

As a middle-aged woman who has spent many years doing male dominated work, I'm discouraged by the growing trends I see that have women once again putting themselves on the back burner; I hoped for awhile that it was just a small segment of the female population but the enormous success of Housewives, Kardashians (big-time creakers)and endless wedding shows, plus the innundation by half-naked women with their fake-everything has dashed that hope.

I actually found this article when I Googled "Croaky Voice", which may be somewhat more accurate; after all, a creak can be oiled but the only way to stop a croak is to shoot the frog.

Anonymous said...

Now the Cooking Channel has a creaky-voiced announcer. "Cooking Channel: Stay hungryyyyyy.

Anonymous said...

Forget what I said earlier about my new fav croaker and let's move Rosie Pope to the top of the list. In addition to the croak, she has that indistinguishable accent AND what appears to be a lisp/speech impediment. I'm not trying to sound like I'm poking fun at the speech-impaired, but I truly wonder about the wisdom of casting a TV show host whose speech is so hard to understand that one can only watch it with subtitles on.

Jo-Ann Langseth said...

Jo-Ann Langseth said...
Another interesting component in "The Voice" (as we call it in my family) is that the short i sound has been eliminated and replaced by short-a sound. For instance, if your name is CHRIS, you would introduce yourself: "Hi! My name is CRASS." And if you miss Chris, the pronunciation du jour would be: "I MASS CRASS!"
Then too, there has to be a lot of sloshy spittiness when the "s" sound comes up -- I believe it's supposed to denote vitality and sexuality.
I also agree that all this unnatural scrunching of sounds and squeaking into higher registers could harm the vocal cords.

Rufus Quail said...

Jo-Ann Langseth: You are corrACT.

Anonymous said...

It is curious that creaky voice has not been profiled or identified to the public-at-large. In the 1980's, the existence of "Val speak" was made well known through television and other media.
There is still this denial thing going on ...

Anonymous said...

Just been watching the show Monster In Laws,which is what prompted me to do a search. If you get chance, look for the episode broacast on 11/14/11, the girl Jessica is one of the worst I've heard in a while.Pretty girl, but super annoying.
I'm glad i found this blog,and its nice to know that I was not just hearing things that nobody else could !
Being from England i noticed long ago, as an outsider, this annoying trend among American women. My wife is from Los Angeles, but thankfully she doesnt talk like a lot of people from there (Although she tends to pick some of it up when talking to some of her friends)
The worst ones for me are the extremely irritating Kardashian sisters, and the infuriating Rachel Zoe.
The first time I remember hearing this type of voice was while watching A Nightmare on Elm St Part 2, when Jessie is dreaming that he is on a schoolbus that goes crazy. The two girls on the bus have that voice, which i have referred to since as 'scratchy voice'
I think they do it to try to make themselves sound sexy, but for me it is a total turnoff.
Someone above mentioned that British women do not do it. Not true. It is becoming more popular over there too, although still not as prevalent as in the US.
You just cant get away from it on TV here, unless you mute the thing every 5 seconds.
Crest Whitestrips, Excedrin Migraine, and countless other female voiceovers have going that route of scratchy voice, or trying to sound all cutesy-pie, all sweet an innocent, its pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I heard either Terry Gross or Robin Young comment on this horrific trend. It was mentioned that it is most definitely bad for the vocal cords. I think the Kardasians have influenced this manner of speech, which is not only incredibly irritating, but lazy and rude as well. Ever notice how those girls say, "thank you" almost as if it were a dismissive swear that they barely have the energy to share to with a peon. Why everyone choses to sound the same is beyond me. If a young women within my hearing speaks like that I remove myself as quickly as possible.

Anonymous said...

I haven't done a whole lot of research yet, but i listened to the Natalie portman clip and i wonder whether people are overreacting. I live in England and I can't say this voice is common at all, it's more of an effect that can come or go. Natalie doesn't normally speak like that, that kind of voice just happens when the voice is strained. If I have drunk a lot, screamed or done a lot of singing, my voice will also take on this creaky effect. I quite like it in small doses, especially as a sung voice, but I've never met anyone who always talks like that. Then again maybe it's more of an American thing.

Anonymous said...

It's me again. I listened to some more examples and I think some people may just talk like that. It's just a different type of voice. Some people have it because of smoking and drinking and others just have it naturally, I think. Either way I think it sounds fine, even pleasant sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Heureka, so "creaky" is what it's called. I'm European, and for years now I've observed this nerve-wrecking tendency in American women's voices. Glad to find I'm not just a weird loner in finding it incredibly unattractive. Whenever I hear it, it makes me want to clear MY throat.
Actually some Eastern Europeans do it, too. Hungarians, Slovaks ... usually in an attempt to sound somehow superior. I'm just grateful it's very rare in Germany where I live.

David said...

My theory is that it has something to do with the use of cell phones. The 's voice' and the cell phone have been around for about the same length of time. Do people feel like they need a voice with more resonance to be better heard on a call? Higher pitched voices can get a bit lost on a cell, so perhaps there has been a subconscious lowering of pitch which has brought on the creak/croak.

Anonymous said...

Creaky voice is not "pleasant" sounding. The type commonly heard on NPR is acting, posing, phoney, arrogant,... etc.

Anonymous said...

And now you've got science to back up your informal study: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/12/vocal-fry-creeping-into-us-speec.html?ref=hp

John said...

Unfortunately, for me, the creaking is just a small part of the affected and extraordinarily annoying voice these young women are using. The short "e" has become a short "a", long "a" has become long "e", short "a" has become short "i", ad nauseum. I heard a young woman giving some sort of computer instruction to type something and then hit "sand". And of course "yes" has now become "yass". A local TV station has a garden expert on occasionally named Dave, and I swear, at the end of the segment, the girl doing the interview said "Think you, Deeve". She also has to drag the last word of every sentence out to an extended pronunciation, and also soften her voice, as if she's talking to a third grade class. For example, "There authorities said there will be further in-ves-ti-gee-shun". And how about the complete separation of the syllables in a word such as "student" I always heard this pronounced as "stood-n't", but now it seems to two separate words, as "stoo" and "dent".
I think one of the funniest ones was when I was listening to Car Talk and some girl called in and said she had a Mini-Cooper Ass. Maybe she should have been calling Weight-Watchers rather than Car Talk.

Patience Worth said...

I have read many posts, and listened to several ladies who have been hyped as the worst offenders. None can compare to one of the ladies whose irritating voice compelled me to find this blog.
While rambling through www.archive.org last year, I decided to listen to the audiobook of Alice in Wonderland, read by my nominee for the title of "Queen of the Creaky Voice", Kara Shallenberg. At first, I thought she may have been dehydrated, so I sampled every chapter of the book in hopes that at some time, she had taken time to drink a tall glass of water. Each chapter was as grating as the other.
It would be interesting to place all the names of the nominees offered by the posters here so we may more easily compare these gravelly voices and proclaim the most annoying of all.
I am sure that Ms Shallenberg would win the dubious honor of having the most grating voice of all.

Anonymous said...

Amen, John. Creaky voice is awful, and so is the baby talk that's a frequent companion. "Stoo-dent" and "did-dent" are bad enough coming from a teenager, but cringeworthy from a TV news reporter. Then there's "garage sell," and "you are crect." Maybe this is just the natural evolution of language and accent, but I wish the accent didn't sound so darned idiotic.

John said...

Don't be too kind, Anonymous :-) I don't see this as any sort of evolution of language or accent; it's purely an affectation. If there's a trend or fad, then there's a certain percentage that is going to do it regardless...be it having an annoying voice or wearing low riding jeans and a short top with three rolls of fat hanging out in the gap.
I can live with accents and sloppy pronunciation. That's just the way some folks have heard these words all their lives. Being from Appalachia, I have often heard "garage sell", but that truly doesn't bother me. BTW, the best one I ever heard was "mills on whills". I find it humorous and just smile to myself and go on. Our dedicated little squeaker would not trifle with "garage sell", but rather seize the opportunity to squeak more by pronouncing it " garage seeeel".

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this article! I thought it was just me who is, honestly, annoyed by a lot of what our culture now embraces. Don't get me started on lingerie being worn as outerwear, or women being called "guys." Did the 20-something generation not learn to say "you're welcome" instead of "no problem." I'm done. Whatever. <--- said in valley girl, creaky voice, of course.

Anonymous said...

Tori Spelling has a super-creaky voice.

Kati said...

Maggie, just what is wrong with spelling your name with an I? That's how my name is spelled, and if it happens to be cute, so be it. I don't worry about being taken less seriously because of it.

Anyway... I'm worried that I do some of these things, and I think I know why. I've worked in retail for over 7 years. At my old job, I heard all these fake-perky voices and all these apathetic, droning voices, and I wanted to avoid both. But it's hard to sound natural, authoritative, and pleasant all at once, all day long. As a feminist, too, I was torn between being "myself", being assertive, and appealing to prevailing standards to femininity.

At my newer job, which is more upscale, I hear my coworkers switch voices all the time, and I do it too. I feel self-conscious about it, but I also feel like people will find me too casual if I speak in my natural voice. Of the two men and two women I work with, both women do this and at least one of the men does. Both of the men are gay, and I think they're self-conscious about how "gay" their voices sound too, depending on the customer.

I also think I picked up the fake voice from years of trying to fit in at school. I stood out in so many ways that I tried to be like other people in at least a few ways that I could control. Voice was one of them. I'll be paying more attention to my own voice now. Conversely, I hope the readers can show some compassion and not make assumptions about someone because of their voice. It's a complicated part of a person's life.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I have noticed this voice many years ago which I call the cracking voice syndrome. Everyone thought I was nuts!! Besides being extremely annoying and making me want
to clear my OWN throat when I hear it I have come up with many theories but the one I keep going back to is the voice means "it's all about me, myself,I, gimmie, I am superior".

Also, I notice whenever any emotion is present during the talking the cracking gets worse and lower in volume in direct proportion to the emotion where back in the day the voice got louder and harsher.
Also, does anyone notice in many movies today everyone seems to be whispering to each other instead of normal conversational voices???
Another new trend rejecting the previous generation??

In short, I see the cracking voice syndrome as a symbol for all who speak it stating that they subscribe to dross selfishness and materialism and a rejection of what was once the norm in society....male or female.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this truly is a generational affection that eventually will pass. Watching "Teen Mom" and "Teen Mom 2" I didn't hear many, if any creaky voicee. These women are younger than the 20-35 age range where creaky voice is most rampant. This gives me hope. Unfortunately we have a long wait until the creaky voicers age out of television commercials. Geriatric ads of the future will sound something like, "Centrum Silverrrrr."

Anonymous said...

My sister and I have been grousing about young ladies voices for years now, not knowing it bothered anyone else. We've been unable to describe, other than to liken it to a mouthful of cotton and a tongue full of piercings. We would lament after viewing an old black and white movie how sexier women's voices were back in the day than they are now. Thanks for the article and for putting a name on it. "Mouth full of cotton and tongue full of piercings" was just too convuluted.

Anonymous said...

Add to the list of irritable voices the mundane and oh so annoying habit of elevating the end of a statement, which makes you think they are asking a question. So the speaker comes off as unsure, unsteady, and incredulous.

Anonymous said...

Casey Anthony. THE WORST of the creaky voice. She's also a twat. Not sure if there's a correlation.

Rufus Quail said...

Recently I listened to a fascinating show on NPR about the development of the Euro. The show was ruined by the horrible voice of host Chana Joffe-Walt. As many have noted, NPR is ground zero for the awful voice movement. Planet Money on NPR

Anonymous said...

do they use a creaky voice when begging not to be beaten further

Anonymous said...

Check out this girl's creaky voice... It drove me crazy when I heard it yesterday.

http://www.npr.org/2012/01/24/145669260/landing-a-job-after-a-year-of-rejection

Anonymous said...

I love NPR but it is the worst creak-show around. And, Eleanor Beardsley takes the cake....she creaks while she pronounces French names with a ridiculous grooowwwwl...I imagine it takes a lot of effort on her part.

Anonymous said...

This beats even the NPR creakers, I think. They seem like nice girls with good hearts. But oh my.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppOpOv_kv2s&feature=player_embedded#!

Rufus Quail said...

Christian Girls Reply to Rick Perry

Here's the video anonymous posted. Oh my indeed!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for pointing this one out...I thought I was the only one to notice and get irritated by all those stupid artificial voices...

Anonymous said...

And I thought I was alone in detecting this grotesque speech affectation! "Fingernails on the blackboard" captures my reaction perfectly.

Equally annoying are several rampant, nasally vowel mispronunciations. Most prevalent is mispronouncing words with a long "a" (as in state, or space), as an "ee". Also, words with a long "o" are mispronounced as an "oo". E.g., "It is tootally wrong for the Steete Legisleeture to cut educeetion funding at this leet deet in the budget pheese."

John said...

Anonymous,
I'm glad you are hearing this too. It's exactly what I posted about on December 11th. I recently got to the point that I emailed the news director of our local TV station, because the girls they have as news readers were driving me nuts mispronouncing vowels. This guy has been in some larger cities in his career, and seems very professional. Apparently he had already been bothered by it also, and said he is working with them to improve. But unfortunately, they're not quite there yet...yesterday at the end of a report about an auto accident on a main avenue here, the girl said that workers were cleaning up the "mass". Oh well, maybe with time, and there's always the remote.

cloudy said...

I've been watching lots of "Monk" (I assume everyone knows that show) and although I like Monk's assistant Natalie a lot, she and her daughter Julie - or rather the actresses - are both doing the creaky voice thing. Quite distracting at times.
(Still love the show, though ...)

Proud Fryer said...

I'm 39, and I've been doing this since I was a teenager (raised in L.A.) From what I heard, HistoryGirl's Natalie Portman is a great example of Vocal Fry, but Rachel Zoe sounds like Vocal Fry mixed with up-speak...which I do find very annoying.

I started doing this because I had a natural high-pitched speaking voice...think Melanie Griffith/Marilyn Monroe. I hated that women didn't take me seriously, and men were always hitting on me. I certainly didn't like the valley girl/up-speak that was so common in LA in my adolesence. So in the late 80s ...I listened to the most serious and respect-commanding female voices I could find--you guessed it--NPR newswomen, and other female anchors like Diane Sawyer, and deliberately tried to mimic their voices. 25 years later, and it's my natural speech.

You may not like their voices (or mine) but no one calls us immature or whiny...or sexy for that matter.

Anonymous said...

"It's gotten so I have to mute the sound on most commercials. Swiffer, Crayola, General Mills, Excedrin, Toshiba, and quite a few others have hired the same creaky-voiced woman."

I don't know if they're all the same person, but Columbia McCaleb is the creaky voice behind General Mills/Nature Valley commercials. Unfortunately, she's also the narrator of the new show, "Twisted Fate." Makes it unwatchable.

Red Thread said...

I thought I was going crazy being annoyed by this trend and am comforted that others have also found it disturbing. Great article. Now I can move on and just turn the radio off.

tealeafer said...

Rufus Quail: "The show was ruined by the horrible voice of host Chana Joffe-Walt. As many have noted, NPR is ground zero for the awful voice movement. Planet Money on NPR"

I listened to just a few minutes of this program and had to laugh. It's just unbelievable to me that this is a professionally produced piece on a serious news item being broadcast on the highly regarded NPR. Pardon the hyperbole, but my god! Haha.

Joffe-Walt is terrible, but her fellow broadcaster is pretty awful, too. As I've said before, it's simply become a pervasive norm. We all hear it to the point of not being able to ignore it, but many others must not.

Also, my apologies for the double post I made further up! My post appeared not to go through and I switched to blogger. :)

Anonymous said...

Ladies and gentlemen, my nomination for worst creak (this woman must go away now):
http://www.themill.com/work/ebay-mom-jeans.aspx

Anonymous said...

Even if I'm and old bag of 70 I think i have the answer to where this bizarre talk came from. But to prove it we have to check the DNA of these people and compare it with a goat or a crow. If that prove I’m wrong I would go for MacDonald food. God I'm glad I'm French and we didn’t get contaminated yet so tv is still safe to listen to. So adieu english TV.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about where this came from, and I think it's because women started speaking higher in their heads, if that makes sense. Instead of the vibration coming from lower in the throat (where air is pushed from the diaphragm), the vocal vibration is just below the sinuses, kind of like the way we spoke when we were children. So when they try to speak in normal registers, the vowels creak.

I was surprised to find myself doing it. It was on the phone with a high-level boss and I think I was trying not to sound too assertive, so I lapsed into a submissive, almost baby talk, which puts your vocal vibration higher in your head. I could hear the ends of my sentences starting to creak! Embarrasing, but enlightening.

Anonymous said...

yes, I feel vindicated, it's good to know there are others changing radio stations when the creak comes on. (often times it's npr)

Anonymous said...

I noticed the croaky voice thing when I was in the US and I found it really irritating. At first I thought all the people at my hotel had a bug or a cold or something. But as the weeks went by, I realised it's probably around 80% of females in their 20s that do it. Seriously annoying. I hope it doesn't catch on in Europe.

helenlydon said...

I think they're all possessed by the demon in The Grudge.

It's Twenty Twelve (& yes the brilliant brit-com even managed to observe this trend in Siobhan - Siobhawn even - Sharpe's grating voice) and the demon has still to be exorcised from these women!

Anonymous said...

I can understand finding a voice irritating, but some of these comments are extremely close-minded. I happen to be a young woman, 21 years old, and have a "creaky voice". (For reference, I live in the Ohio River Valley region, not that it makes a difference.) In fact, that's how I tumbled upon this article (although it was not what I was looking for, I read it anyway). I have always had this annoying inflection in my voice (ever since I was a child, and there were times I didn't like my voice). Some people commenting make it seem that the majority of girls try to sound this way? While the voices may irritate you, do you honestly think the majority of women in their twenties are thinking about how, and attempting, to make their voices "creak"? Perhaps it was the voice they were born with and learned language with. Perhaps it stems from when they learned their first words, their dialect, their vocal capabilities, and perhaps subconsciously, the voices that they've heard growing up. I honestly doubt that this minor thing would be noticed to become a "fad". At this point in time, many people in their twenties are worried about school and work, not their voice. I thought the voices as examples in the article weren't creaky at all, but then again, I am no voice expert. They seemed natural. Some comments were fine, but I was seriously appalled at a few of the comments. You can find a voice irritating, sure. My voice is not one for singing, for example. But I think some people on here need to let the little things go. I cannot imagine how, if you are that annoyed with a voice, you would handle things in life that actually matter. Just my two cents.

I hope everyone has a good morning, evening, or night in your own little part of the world. Farewell. :)

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have discussed this appalling trend. We wonder if one cause might be that children don't routinely have singing lessons in school anymore. When they do get around to singing on their own, it's to imitate popular "songs" which are seldom lyrical. They go around in life with permanently tensed throats. (Stress adds to that.) People are growing up with no experience of having supple, flexible vocal chords. And of course, we now live in a culture in which criticizing such "superficial" things as poor grammar and creaky voices is frowned upon.

Anonymous said...

I swear I didn't read the post just above mine before I wrote it! The writer may have thought my comments were directed at her. They were not. It's an interesting coincidence, though.

To all such young women who wish their voices weren't naturally "creaky," I recommend practicing deep breathing and concentrating on loosening the vocal chords. Sing some slow, easy songs that have real melodies while you do chores or drive around in the car. Yawn on purpose, to remind you to relax your throat.If you can afford vocal coaching, go for it.

Anonymous said...

What makes the offense worse than a biological voice limitation is that it's not natural. It's a learned behavior that has reached critical mass within the past 20 years.

To the poster who says in essence "get over it," I wish I could. But more than that, I wish young women would stop talking with creaky voices.

Red Thread said...

Melissa Block. aahhh

Anonymous said...

Just a personal experience -- I talk with the creaky voice and didn't realize it until I started taking singing lessons and my voice teacher informed me that I had "vocal fry." I don't do this on purpose. (I'm not really young, either, so it's not a generational thing.) My theory is this: I remember that as a very young child, I was constantly told by teachers to "quiet down." Perhaps because girls are expected to not be loud, they end up not supporting their voice properly, which leads to the creakiness. Basically it's a problem of not using proper breath support. When I have tried to speak in my correct register and use good breath support, I cringe because I feel like I'm talking so loud. And my friends make fun of me because they don't understand why I'm using a new fake voice.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, so true! And has anyone seen the tv ads for a skin product called "Proactiv"..? Perfect examples there of a couple girls talking about their "dark spots" etc... with that annoying, back-of-the-throat croaking!!! It not only sounds unfeminine, it sounds not cute and shy but apologetically unsure, pensive, and dejectedly reticent. I do NOT want to get to know that girl! Whatever happened to silky, smooth, musical voices? Seems that would attract more positive attention while croaking actually repels... in my humble opinion. RIBBIT!!

Anonymous said...

I live in New York, and used to think that the Creaky Voice Syndrome was simply the domain of younger women. Now, however, I hear women in their forties and fifties adopting it, which I think they are doing because they believe it makes them 'seem younger'. So vile, irritating, hateful, and ugly do I find this 'vocal fry' that I have resorted to wearing my headphones more or less constantly, find it increasingly hard to watch television. The GOOD news is that I think the craze might be coming to an end; I've been teaching college for five years, and when I first started, the Creak was ubiquitous; over the past couple of years, however, less and less girls seem to be creaking (or maybe I'm just getting used to it...) Either way, I LOVED your blog, and have re-posted it heartily. :)m

Anonymous said...

OH! And when it comes to the Worst Ever Perpetrator of Creaky Voice in the History of Hateful Voices EVER, The Winner Is.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN6ZDDaANuQ

Maddy Perennity said...

LOL, you guys, seriously... I did find a lot of this post interesting but never knew there were so many haters out there. I'm a perky chirper and never thought much of it. I didn't pick it up to fit in; I just picked it up somewhere in my late teens because it felt the most comfortable. Before my teens, adults were always remarking about how soft-spoken I was or griping at me to speak up. For me it wasn't an affectation but 100% organic. It's not the end of the world, guys.

For public speaking, however, it is really important to speak clearly and audibly. I much admired Maggy Tatcher's voice but I guess that was after the vocal training. She projected while maintaining a low and reassuring voice.

cloudy said...

Certainly it's not the end of the world. Neither is a bad hair day. But do we have to learn to like it? I say NO.

cloudy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dizzy5 said...

Chana Joffe-Walt. The absolute worst. No contest.

dizzy5 said...

Zoe Chaze at NPR- the new WORST.

Anonymous said...


Yes! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS ARTICLE!
Like many other commenters have said, I noticed this crappy creak a few years ago, and it drove me nuts.

Of course the scourge of creakiness was so rampant, I of course thought I was the only one being bothered by it, until I found your article.
Thank you, now I know I am not alone.

I used to watch family channel a lot. Boy, if you want to hear endless...ENDLESS creaky voices, that place is a hellhole of it.

I stopped watching because of it.

I'm also a voice over actor, and I KNOW for a fact that all it takes is at least paying some attention to the way you talk to begin to change it.

I found your article because I googled "why do so many women have annoying voices".

This includes whiny voices, nasally voices, adult women talking like teenagers, overly high-pitched on purpose voices, and more.

A disproportionate number of women on TV have this creaky creepy voice, as well as insanely nasally ones, and it's too much.
Especially on lifestyle shows, where they have a billion different "experts" on fashion, interior design, health and nutrition etc.
These women all seem so proud of being professionals in their field, and yet they pay ABSOLUTELY NO ATTENTION to the way others are perceiving them through their voices!

Absolutely ridiculous. Damnit people, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR VOICE!

Anonymous said...

"Gallery Girls" is a parade of creaks. I think
Chantal
breaks the record for most annoying creak.

Anonymous said...

I hate vocal fry and upspeak. Why can't members of my sex speak normal?

As for males, I'm sick of listening to teenage boys sounding like little girls. I feel like injecting them with testosterone.

en goodwin said...

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/480/animal-sacrifice?act=0#play

Professional narrators, male and female. Thanks for your valuable work, Rufus. You bring hope to a troubled world. This has been driving me crazy for years!

Anonymous said...

Some languages use what is called a "creaky voice" to indicate differences in words or meaning. It could be that the English language in America is simply leaning toward this form of speech, and will eventually be mostly that way.
As for "Valley Girl" stereotypical talk, I live in California and I will tell you that the people in California who talk like that are not doing it on purpose - it is a dialect, an "accent" as legitimate and real as a New Jersey accent, Louisiana accent, RP British accent, so on and so forth. Many other varieties of English also end every sentence by raising the tone, especially among the British Isles. Some people may be trying to copy this accent in other parts of the country, I don't know, but it is not done on purpose in California. It is an accent, a dialect. It is offensive to make fun of it in such a demeaning way, just like it is offensive to make fun of a New Jersey, Irish, RP British, Louisianan, Texan, Australian,or Tennessee accent.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely adore creaky voice. I originally discovered it studying other languages, and was very glad to see that English had something as "different" as that.
It's enjoyable the same way hot foods are. Sure, it isn't the most pleasant/mild thing, but it wouldn't be half as nice if it was. I just love the variety of it.

Kay B said...

I've heard too many annoying creaky voice voiceover actors / actresses on TV ads. From the Swiffer sweeper commercials to the guy with the satanic voice who ends each sentence with a gutteral, lower octave growl on the Chevy truck commercials. And I'm wondering why there is so many female voices lately that have a 'Kermit the frog / Ray Romano' quality. It's disturbing.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the creaky voice, I note an increased slurring of syllables (e.g. "creer" for "career") and a distressing tendency, especially among newscasters, to speak ultra-rapidly. Often, their throats become increasingly tense as they speak, forcing a high-pitched nasality that's really unpleasant.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your blog! I'm so glad that even native speakers and also American women (Bravo - I want to marry someone like you!) find these unbearably unpleasant and annoying voices a complete pain in the rear end! As a European (Switzerland) I 've often thought, there was something wrong with an estimatet95% of U.S. female vocalchords! Could it be your free drinking water, way too much chlorine? No,men drink that too...hormones in the pill...as an explanation for all these "fucked-up" vocal chords. I think it's a total unpleasant turn-off both, musically and sexually!For every male who finds these voices and the stupid missplaced uptalk charming: get professional help, 'cause you have an aesthetical problem. Speaking disorders are one thing - how about snobbish arrogant bitch-behavior like "cool" Nespresso Ms. Martin, never greeting back when greeted,never saying thank you when served...offending people with manners, and hanging up the phone without saying good bye... Screw that too^^

Anonymous said...

The Smims Wyeth link is broken; the correct link is:

http://www.simswyeth.com/20090611-voice-and-speech-training/

Anonymous said...

It's hard to imagine that people find this affectation charming. It's as delightful as ending each sentence with a belch. Yes, speech patterns change over the years. Women don't talk the same way they did in the 1930s or even the 1970s.

But this shift is especially irritating because instead of adopting speech patterns that sound mature and authoritative, young women now sound stupid and childish.

Creaky voice is a byproduct of speaking from a child's register -- it's a thin, weak voice that starts almost in the sinus cavity and turns into a creak as it lowers.

Combined with the accent (my co-worker thinks that saying "crect" sounds more professional that "right") this is the most idiotic and annoying speech pattern since I don't know when.

Anonymous said...

Here's a good example from Daria

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_25Joznkh8

Anonymous said...

Best example I've heard of this trend. My sense is that people who affect this speech pattern don't have much to say and they know it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought I was just strange for being so hopelessly irritated by this. I think I first noticed it about 15-18 years ago, and yes, only in young women, fresh from college. It's very disturbing to hear a bunch of high school girls wrecking their vocal cords doing their best to out-creak each other.

Anonymous said...

Zoe Chace and Chana Joffe-Walt, Eleanor Beardsley, all on NPR. Absolutlely horrible voices. Vocal fry out of control, quacky, throaty. I rush to the mute button every time they are on.

Rufus Quail said...

I couldn't agree more, Anonymous. I listen to NPR on my commute. It's frustrating when I'm forced to turn it off, regardless of how fascinating the content is. I'm sure a woman with a pleasant voice would not pass an NPR audition.

Anonymous said...

Bing! Bing! Bing! I have noticed this voice most on the radio. Women DJ's/Hosts that end each phrase down with a rasp that is as pleasing as a spinal tap! What were they taught from their training/education? I'm no voice coach but I'd say your voice is an instrument and you need to please the listener with smooth tones from the start to finish of each phrase. Who is teaching these people, Tom Waits?

Seymour said...

Chana Joffe-Walt: please help us, she is so terrible. I heard her again this morning. On another board we were discussing the awfulness of Zoe Chace and Eleanor Beardsley (who sound like she hates being in "Pahris"!). Joffe-Walt completes the NPR Creaky Triumvirate

Anonymous said...

The worst thing about the way American women talk is their tendency to 'round' their 'r's...In my country it is considered very gauche to speak like that...although, I have to say the standard of speech here has declined enormously since I was a child...
I noticed American actresses in early film - 1920's-50's spoke beautifully...unfortunately, that is no longer the case...on the whole American women grate when they speak...I don't know how their husbands can stand their whiny, carping drawl!

George Eager said...

I'm so glad to learn this annoying affectation has a name and has been noticed by others. The first time I really noticed it was in the reporting of NPR's Elizabeth Fiedler, who creaked throughout her radio reporting, coming to a horrible Climax Creak when saying her name at the end of the story.

Anonymous said...

I work in a marketing department and I'm surrounded by creaky voices! We've got creaky quackers, chirpy creaks and growling creaks. A new hire moved to the cubicle next to me and her voice is like fingernails on a blackboard. She's a chirpy-quacker with a drawn-out creak at the end of each sentence. This hideous affectation is getting worse by the month, and it has infected television commercials and promos something fierce. It's now the new normal announcer voice. (Try listening to HGTV's new spokescreaker.) This is hell.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if people who hire advertising companies to market their products on TV are aware of how many thousands mute their commercials because of the creaky voice. I doubt if any commercials are muted just because of a smooth, pleasant voice.

Maryl said...

My 13 year old grand daughter affects the creaky voice like a professional. I think the kids think it's cool. I'm hopeful it will change as she gets older, 'cause I find it grating. However, she is so adorable and lovable, I keep my mouth shut and grin and bear it.

Elsie said...

Another example of creaky voice is Tory Johnson, GMA contributor, The Shift author. I'm guessing she's over 40, maybe closer to 50. And the faces she makes when speaking. Like 'eew'. Another one is cute L.A. Times writer, VH1 contributor Joel Stein. Creaky! Kindda sexy. Not quite. The cutest example of ValSpeak, creaky voice, a young nun or novice interviewed on CBC.

Elsie said...

Another example of creaky voice is Tory Johnson, GMA contributor, The Shift author. I'm guessing she's over 40, maybe closer to 50. And the faces she makes when speaking. Like 'eew'. Another one is cute L.A. Times writer, VH1 contributor Joel Stein. Creaky! Kindda sexy. Not quite. The cutest example of ValSpeak, creaky voice, a young nun or novice interviewed on CBC.

Anonymous said...

We have a traffic reporter in Seattle who can only be known as, "deep creak". Literally drove me away from that networks morning newscast.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday, I sat in on an orientation workshop in my new workplace. I was surrounded by young women (I'm an old woman), who were driving me to distraction by their numerous, collective horrible habits -- eating crunchy snacks while speakers addressed us, twirling and playing with their hair, swinging their tattooed legs and showing off bare feet in sandals... and uniformly speaking in CREAKY VOICES!! I have noticed this deplorable speech pattern, but never knew linguists have noticed it, too, until today when I googled the question, "Why do women speak with creaky voices"? I first thought of it as "croaking" but found "creaky" to be the popular term describing "vocal fry." I also found this blog, which confirmed I wasn't alone in being driven mad with disgust at this increasing and deplorable vocal phenomenon.

Anonymous said...

The natural voice carries a subtle quality of feeling that comes from the stomach, diaphragm and chest/ heart area. Creaky voice comes from a tightened throat that blocks any feeling from being expressed. What is so sickening about vocal fry is the total absence of feeling--especially as women are the natural carriers of feeling. This is not just a fad. American women are trying to feel less vulnerable in ever-more-brutal America.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why it's called creaky. It's a genuine growl. It should be called growly. What I hear is every single sentence starting out normal and descending into a growl at the end. Every single sentence. They've GOT to be told that they are ruining their vocal chords - now!

Anonymous said...

Today I saw this ereader review video on Wired. They have a few females on the team creating review videos and the all have "maxed out2 creaky voice to a point where it is almost difficult to listen to.

link to Wired

Anonymous said...

I literally cannot stand that irritating noise they make from the back of their throats. It seems to go along with an arrogant and haughty attitude. Some of them have affected their growl throughout the whole sentence! So horribly irritating!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like they have strep throat, they are either trying to sound sexy or trendy, it is so annoying! I think they are trying to sound like the Kardashian sisters. I feel like punching them in their haughty necks when I am subjected to that irritating, grating sound with the superioir attitude that often goes with it. How is it that everyone doesn't notice how fake and annoying it is?

Anonymous said...

A good example of "The Growly Voice" is Britney Spears speaking voice. Notice how her speaking voice is completely different than it used to be before 2008. It is totally affected. Demi Lovato is another one with the same type of affected growly speaking voice. A good 90 % of young women in my area of Southern Ca use this affected voice, seriously makes me want to move to a foreign country!




Anonymous said...

A friend and I have discussed this issue over the past few years - how many young women today have harsh, grating, nasal, AWFUL voices. If you watch old films and TV shows from, say, the 40's through the 60's - or British, German, French etc. TV and films of today, most women actresses of whatever age have these pleasant, soothing, lovely voices. Not in America! I can't believe today's "creaky" voices are a conscious affectation...for some unknown reason, vast numbers of young American women of today just have developed gravelly, harsh, nasal voices. One often feels pity for some of he worst examples, especially teenage girls. You think, can you imagine waking up to a voice like that? Have no idea what odd cultural shift this indicates.

It's particularly discordant when you see a beautiful woman with an awful voice. Some examples that come to mind are "Bond Girl" Denise Richards, and Kim Alexis, the "supermodel" the 80's. They seem like lovely women, but their voices - ghastly! The pretty blonde sex therapist on Oprah and self-help guru Martha Beck - good therapists and good ideas, but nasal, grating, whiny voices. The list is endless.

They all badly need voice lessons - as though today's women need something else to feel self-conscious about.

Anonymous said...

Popping in again - After naming Kim Alexis and Denise Richards, I listened to them on youtube, and their voices were better than I remember! I shouldn't have named names. Sometimes voices sound worse if the speaker is nervous, and I may have heard the women I named when they were having a bad day. Sorry. As the lady said, "never mind."

Rufus said...

Dear Anonymous: Women pop in & out of the creaky voice all the time. I picked on poor Drew Barrymore based on one clip. She doesn't sound that bad, so don't worry about picking on Kim & Denise. With the creaky voice sweeping the nation like plague, very few women & girls are immune.

YOXOMO said...

Dead on, this needs to stop! Who wants to listen to a voice like that??? So glad to see I am not the only one. Has been irritating me for years as well! Thank you, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I have been accused of racism because I can't watch American TV shows and true, I probably have been heard saying something like 'I can't stand Americans' when referring to TV. I simply can not listen to that horrid noise, my blood pressure is raised and as much as I may want to watch something, it's just not worth the stress it causes. Do you know of any others that speak like this or is it just them?

Anonymous said...

How can you be accused of racism if Americans aren't a race? Anyway, this problem seems to be getting worse. It doesn't matter what part of the country the women are from -- they're creaking and croaking all the same. Although vocal fry is worse among regular young women, it's creeping into the speech of television professionals. I can't watch Krystal Ball on MSNBC because she literally quacks like a duck. Alex Wagner loses all authority by the end of her sentences. How long will we have to wait until this fad disappears? I'm afraid it won't be for another generation.

Anonymous said...

The venom in these comments is just uncalled for. I'm sure everyone here has some habit or other that some might find annoying. I suggest that you all relax and not get your knickers in a twist over something this trivial.

The English language is not static. Any linguist will tell you that it undergoes constant change. We don't speak the same way people did in the 1950s, nor did those people speak the same way their predecessors did at the turn of the century, much less in the days of Chaucer.

Right now, American English IS undergoing a vowel shift. As some people here have noticed, vowels are being tensed and raised so that long "a" sounds like long "e," short "e" sounds like short "a," and so on. The natural result of this pattern is to produce a more nasal sound. This isn't an affectation or a phase--it's a widespread shift in the Standard American accent--and there's nothing you can do to change it. How do you think it happened that British, Irish, Scottish, American, and Australian accents diverged in the first place? Pronunciation of any language is dynamic. It's bound to change.

In any case, I highly doubt that anyone has adopted vocal fry consciously. I personally find that it's what naturally happens at the end of a sentence as I run out of air. It's also what happens when I strain my voice to make it louder, something I need to do more and more often in this noise-polluted world. In addition, it's what happens when I'm anxious and unconsciously tightening my throat as a result. In short, it IS the result of vocal tension, but this kind of tension can't just be controlled at will.

The bottom line is that whether you do or don't like the sound of vocal fry, trying to use it as a predictor of someone's intelligence, class status, personal values, etc. is just ignorant, not to mention offensive. If you don't want someone to prejudge YOU based on your smoker's voice, Southern accent, 1980s vocabulary, or whatever it is that marks your personal speech patterns, then please lay off the ugly comments, which are truly uglier than anyone's "creaky voice."

Anonymous said...

The people most offended by criticism of this appalling vocal trend are usually the offenders themselves.

I agree that it's not conscious, and that speech patterns change. But that doesn't make this affectation any less loathsome.

Creaky voice, and the accompanying sexy baby vocal virus, DO make women sound stupid. Just watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGLXMXX_OOc

Alex Gold said...

I understand your problem, I'll help you for you to visit this site Youtube Support You can reach Acetecsupport at their Call Toll Free No +1-800-231-4635 For US/CA.

Anonymous said...

The women who are offended by those of us who can't stand that abrasive noise are the very same ones who are affecting that awful voice. Voices should be individualized, not something you put on in order to make a fashion statement... Check out the latest study from university of Miami published in the journal Plos One, that show that women who affect those trendy, croaky voices are seen as insecure and unprofessional and therefore less likely to be hired for a job. Unconscious or deliberately affected, that voice is very annoying and sounds fake.

Anonymous said...

Think Alix Spiegel of NPR was bad when you wrote this? She must have read your piece and chose to double down. The woman is an excellent story teller but man is her rasp hard to listen to. I usually just wait for the NPR transcript and read it.

Anonymous said...

Speaking about creaking,I answer the phone (remotely) for a local club and have to figure out exactly what these young, and they are invariably young, women are trying to say. I've kind of given up trying to understand their message, but what drives me crazy is trying to hear their phone numbers so I can return their calls. The creak, the change in pitch makes their numbers often unintelligible.

And I'm sorry if these rants about creaking or whatever one calls it are insulting. Suffice to say not everyone can own a beautiful voice, but anyone can learn to speak in well-modulated tones.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Amy Goodman can creak but having a wide vocal range doesn't mean you're a creaker. She is a powerful speaker.

Anonymous said...

Before I read comments, going to make my own. Cannot get my own wife to stop this kind of sound like she's ready to barf because there is a small ball in the back of her throat. "Croaking" as described earlier. My eyes rolling. Disgustingly STUPID!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh my credit union's automated phone system has a creaky baby talker. Not just a little vocal fry -- a full-out "use your key paaaaddd." When the voice infects automated phone recordings you know it's reached critical mass.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was me!! I'm so happy to not be the only person whose nerves get grated at the latest beer commercial or commercial for some trashy, reality show.
But I have a question. How could this author NOT hear it while watching Sex and the City? Samantha Jones is the worst!! Watch Manneqin and Kim Catrall had a very feminine, soft voice, yet in Sex and the City, she's a pretentious d-bag. I hate this new fad and I hope all the fakers (not those born with a naturally raspy voice) get permanent laryngitis and stop abusing normal folks' ears.

Rufus said...

Anonymous may be onto something. It could be that Sex and the City is ground zero for the awful voice movement. My research consisted of listening to clips. I wasn't about to watch an entire episode of Sex and the City, so I thank you Anonymous for furthering my research.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely annoying. That and the newscaster voices, so ugly, rhotic and nasal, and the roller coaster pitch. Listening to such voices makes me feel seasick. .Let's at least bring back the Mid-Atlantic accent.

Bill Sheridan said...

Just saw a TV piece with Allison Williams on the upcoming live "Peter Pan" special on NBC. OMG...so beautiful, and I'm sure uber-talented, but her VOICE! CREAKY with a HUUUUGE RATTLE. Why? Why? Why? It is NOT appealing...it is so bad. Why are our young females talking like this? Someone needs to tell her before she is affected for life. I wonder if her dad, NBC News's Brian Williams notices?