A new trend in speech patterns in young American women has been investigated, and it is clear that ‘vocal fry’ — low, staccato vibration of the vocal chords during speech — is rapidly increasing, as shown by recent research conducted at Long Island University, NY:

Marissa Fessenden via ScienceNOW

More than two-thirds of the research subjects used vocal fry during their readings, the researchers will report in a future issue of the Journal of Voice. The distinct vibrations weren’t continuous. Rather, they arose most often at the ends of sentences. The patterns were “normal” variations, says co-author and speech scientist Nassima Abdelli-Beruh of LIU, because the women rarely slipped into vocal fry during sustained vowel tests—prolonged holding of vowels such as ‘aaa’ and ‘ooo’—a classic way to assess voice quality and probe for possible disorders. Abdelli-Beruh says the creak is unlikely to damage vocal cords because speakers didn’t creak continuously or even at the end of every sentence.

It seems that these young women may be influenced by singers like Britney Spears, who fry as a singing technique.