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Joint Phondi/SoConDi Meeting: Amy Hemmeter on Vocal Fry

Friday, March 29, 2013
12:00 AM
Lorch 473

Gender Effects on the Production of Vocal Fry

SoConDi and Phondi will have a joint meeting this week, featuring a presentation by undergraduate student Amy Hemmeter. Amy will present on the research that she is conducting for her senior honors thesis about vocal fry as it is realized by male and female speakers. The title and abstract of Amy's presentation are given below.

Gender Effects on the Production of Vocal Fry

The linguistic feature known as “vocal fry” (also known as “creaky voice” or “laryngealization” to linguists) has recently come into the public consciousness through the publication of a New York Times article entitled “They’re, Like, Way Ahead of the Linguistic Currrve” (Quenqua 2012). The article featured research from Wolk et al. (2011), which found that college-aged women use vocal fry very consistently phrase-finally in a reading passage. The phenomenon is overwhelmingly presented in media as being associated solely with women, and previous sociophonetic research suggests that women are more likely to use vocal fry in informal contexts in Washington DC and California (Podesva 2011, Yuasa 2010).  In this project, I sought to replicate this tendency for speakers in Michigan, in both formal and informal contexts. For a formal, careful style I had the speakers read the same passage from the Wolk et al. (2011) paper, the “Rainbow Passage.” For the informal portion, I performed a sociolinguistic interview with the speakers. Based on the existing literature, I expected that women will use vocal fry more often in both contexts; however, my research seems to show that, overall, there is no significant difference between the genders; nor does there seem to be a significant difference overall between the amount of vocal fry in the passage reading and the interview data.

Amy Hemmeter