Glottal fry is a vocal register characterized by low frequency and increased signal perturbation, and is perceptually identified by its popping, creaky quality. Recently, the use of the glottal fry vocal register has received growing awareness and attention in popular culture and media in the United States. The creaky quality that was originally associated with vocal pathologies is indeed becoming “trendy,” particularly among young women across the United States. But while existing studies have defined, quantified, and attempted to explain the use of glottal fry in conversational speech, there is currently no explanation for the increasing prevalence of the use of glottal fry amongst American women. This thesis, however, proposes that conversational entrainment—a communication phenomenon which describes the propensity to modify one’s behavior to align more closely with one’s communication partner—may provide a theoretical framework to explain the growing trend in the use of glottal fry amongst college-aged women in the United States. Female participants (n = 30) between the ages of 18 and 29 years (M = 20.6, SD = 2.95) had conversations with two conversation partners, one who used quantifiably more glottal fry than the other. The study utilized perceptual and quantifiable acoustic information to address the following key question: Does the amount of habitual glottal fry in a conversational partner influence one’s use of glottal fry in their own speech? Results yielded the following two findings: (1) according to perceptual annotations, the participants used a greater amount of glottal fry when speaking with the Fry conversation partner than with the Non Fry partner, (2) statistically significant differences were found in the acoustics of the participants’ vocal qualities based on conversation partner. While the current study demonstrates that young women are indeed speaking in glottal fry in everyday conversations, and that its use can be attributed in part to conversational entrainment, we still lack a clear explanation of the deeper motivations for women to speak in a lower vocal register. The current study opens avenues for continued analysis of the sociolinguistic functions of the glottal fry register.
- Glottal fry in college aged females: an entrainment phenomenon?
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by Christine R. Delfino