Of the 20 million things that annoy me on a daily basis (I just discovered that the sound of a spoon rapidly scraping the remaining bits of yogurt from a plastic container makes me violent—hmm…no, not true; I’ve been repressing my first encounter with this sound that surfaced in 2004 when a coworker ate flax oatmeal daily from a reusable plastic dish. For the record, I like both of these offenders as people, but that sound is excruciating) I’ve discovered that “vocal fry” is not one of them.
It took me forever to even find an audio example where I could detect the linguistic tic and once I understood what it was, it didn’t bother me in the least. I barely even notice the creaky voice or that it's taken over the younger female population. (I'm still stuck on how pubic hair waxing so rapidly became the norm. Also, the other story I read this week on the topic–only a writer in her 20s, who I happen to like, would call pubic hair "70s bush" when the shift didn't happen until the '90s. This is not ancient history.) I’m definitely of the up-talking Valley Girl persuasion, an affliction I’m aware of and consciously trying to rid myself of now that I conduct a lot of interviews with marketers and brands at work and want to come across as authoritative. (I now have a sore throat from trying to speak with vocal fry last night and meowing to the cats using that lower register to see if they liked it.)
While trying to get to the bottom of what vocal fry sounds like, I came across this article about Northwest dialects (you can go on all day about there being no such thing as accentlessness, but I remain unconvinced that anyone in Oregon or Washington speaks differently than what’s commonly accepted as neutral, i.e. TV speaking). I’m still completely WTF over one of the comments:
“I have long understood that the voice of the Northwest was the voice of Goofy, the Walt Disney character. Pinto Colvig, the creator of Goofy's voice, was once asked where he got the accent, and he said he was just speaking the way people did in his hometown of Gresham, Ore.”
Maybe in the late 1800s? You know what Goofy sounds like, right?
The only late 20th century Gresham weirdness, which isn’t that weird, was calling hazelnuts filberts, and crayfish crawdads (weirder because no one associates those Gulf Coast crustaceans with the NW) and not wanting to catch them down at the creek (not crick, I don’t think) with other kids.