What am I doing with a blog?

Awww…heck. I dunno.

Shallow as I wanna be June 28, 2007

Filed under: dorky,linguistics,misc — himbly @ 8:18 pm


I resisted but I do have a small weakness for celeb gossip. I wish I didn’t, but there it is.

Now, I certainly did not want to support this whole ruckus about Paris Hilton’s first interview out of jail. Fascinating (well…maybe less fascinating than rubbing the frail ‘feel good spot’ inside us all) as her persona is, I do think enough is enough and that woman needs to be set free from our minds and our attention.

I didn’t watch the Larry King interview. Not even on purpose…just didn’t occur to me. However….I did take a peek at the Anderson Cooper ‘reflections’ or whatever on youtube. Actually, only partly because a/ my connection sucks and b/ it actually is getting to me that we’re now deciding that a panel of experts discussing Paris Hilton constitutes air time, if not news. There is nothing to read into. Even I have to wonder who effing cares…and I’m the queen of the trivial.

But…here I am. I’m about to comment on Paris. I’m about to comment on something that I’ve noticed in young women and is starting to drive me nuts. I’m talking, of course, about voice quality.

Ha! Just when you thought I’d zig, I zagged, mofos.

And…I didn’t notice it on my own, it was pointed out once in a phonetics class I was auditing…so I’ll start there.

There is a cool little tool you can download for free called Praat. I won’t bother linking it right now ’cause no one will care, but it’s a phonetic tool where you can see the patterns of sound waves in speech (through .wav files). I used it when I was building my stimuli. Praat (and other tools like it) are used to isolate certain characteristics in speech…like you can see each vowel, consonant…blah blah blah. You need to develop an eye, but it’s pretty cool.

As Teh Octogenarians say around here: Anyhow…..

Dr. D was playing us a sentence as spoken by a young woman in her 20s. He intended to show us a certain feature of the sentence but then stopped himself and imitated the ending of her sentence…which I can’t remember…but he turned himself into a “cute girl” as he imitated her…not by miming brushing her hair, putting on makeup, carrying a small dog or shopping but by the voice quality.

Creaky voice.

We all can do it. You constrict your vocal folds to a point where what you’re saying comes out creaky. Like when you imitate a creaky door…do ‘creaky door’ but talk at the same time. There you go. In some languages of the world it distinguishes words from each other, but in English it doesn’t. And chicks super dig it.

Young women in North America use creaky voice and I don’t know why, it seems cool or something, but they do and until Dr. D mentioned it I had no idea. I do it too, occassionally (probably to seem younger and cooler than I am and offsetting my love for computer games and Led Zeppelin), but next time you see a hip, pretty young woman and talk to her…check out her voice quality. Lots of times she won’t speak clearly…she will employ the use of creaky voice for something or other.

And now I can’t NOT notice it.

I was not surprised to hear Paris use it. I’ve actually, while writing this post, have been trying to find a good example of creaky voice to show y’all, but I think I might just do it this way…let Paris actually do it herself. No idea if she does it throughout the entire interview, this is all I saw. At around 2:26 she reads from her journals *snort*.

You thought ‘upspeak‘ was driving you nuts. Wait until you notice this all the time.


12 Responses to “Shallow as I wanna be”

  1. Reg Says:

    Should a hip, pretty, and young woman ever talk to me you will be the first person I tell. I likely won’t be checking her voice out but for you I will try.

    Hope you have a great Canada Day.

  2. himbly Says:

    try to concentrate on what she is saying….or at least how she’s saying it. hehe.

  3. platypusattack Says:

    Like, oh my gawd! I’m totally gonna listen for creaky voice!
    We should like, count how many times we hear it today!

  4. himbly Says:

    hehehe…I have probably unleashed something that’s bigger than all of us. Once ‘Dr. D’ talked about it, I have been unable to stop noticing it. I don’t think you do it, though, Plat…at least it’s not been obvious to me. You can start the society for young, hip, pretty women against creaky voice!!

  5. platypusattack Says:

    God hates Creaky Voice.

  6. MK Says:

    This particular silly affectation is driving me up a wall too. It usually combined with uptalking, and–at least in these parts–SLURRING.

    A meme like this gets into the general population, and it just will not go away. Same with saying “like” at least three times in every sentence.

  7. himbly Says:

    slurring? really??

    Yeah…this one won’t go away for a long time. I don’t know if anyone’s done a study on it, I’ve tried to google it but to no avail. Would be interesting from a socio-linguistic point of view.

    I have to admit…the “like” one has got a pretty steady hold on me. I find it expresses a casual sort of feeling when telling stories for humour’s sake. ‘he/she said” is so much more formal than, ‘so he’s all like…’.

  8. […] in creaky voice August 23, 2007 Filed under: dorky — himbly @ 3:19 pm My June post on creaky voice seemed to be somewhat of a hit. Y’all ought to be ashamed of yourselves because the only […]

  9. eileen Says:

    Good examples of creaky voice – Melissa Block (All Things Considered), other females on NPR … many, many voices on “This American Life.” Worth a study – it is easily acquired and seems to be an affectation.

  10. himbly Says:

    You know, Eileen, you’re so absolutely right! This American Life has a ton of voices..male and female…with creaky voice. It’s really hard to listen to now. I was listening to a fascinating story the other day and the woman reading it (don’t remember who it was) was ending every sentence with creaky voice! It was driving me nuts.

  11. owenkun Says:

    I’m so happy I have a way to refer to this now. I was just calling it ‘frog voice’ and trying to explain it to people, but no one seemed to understand.

    It’s funny though, since now I find myself being worried about talking in a creaky voice. Sometimes I can’t help it though, since I just have a naturally raspy voice. ^_^

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