Girls and women in their teens and 20s deserve credit for pioneering vocal trends and popular slang, they say, adding that young women use these embellishments in much more sophisticated ways than people tend to realize.
“A lot of these really flamboyant things you hear are cute, and girls are supposed to be cute,” said Penny Eckert, a professor of linguistics at Stanford University. “But they’re not just using them because they’re girls. They’re using them to achieve some kind of interactional and stylistic end.”
The latest linguistic curiosity to emerge from the petri dish of girl culture gained a burst of public recognition in December, when researchers from Long Island University published a paper about it in The Journal of Voice. Working with what they acknowledged was a very small sample ”” recorded speech from 34 women ages 18 to 25 ”” the professors said they had found evidence of a new trend among female college students: a guttural fluttering of the vocal cords they called “vocal fry.”