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Thursday’s posts look at sociolinguistics or child language acquisition: accents, stereotypes and how children learn to speak.

Have you heard? There’s a brand new spoken fashion sweeping the nation: vocal fry.

These guys do it:

Made in Chelsea simply love to break their vocal chords, but they’re rich enough, dahling…

So does this lass:

Oops, I did it again… (*cough sputter*)

And her:

Maybe I need some rehhhaab

And, of course:

I fit in with these guys?

Vocal Fry is its name, and all the cool kids are doing it. It’s when you put a slight croak in your voice.

Let’s look at the people who do it… What do they have in common?

Firstly, they’re mostly women. It’s something that’s seen as prestigious among women more so than men, and some linguists also think this proves that women are more conscious of how they are perceived by their accent, or else men would rather seem working class. Having said that, Hugh and Spencer do fry their chords, but they became famous just for being rich and elite.

Secondly, they’re all upper class. No, wait, there’s Marge.

Everyone’s talking about vocal fry as if it’s a new phenomenon, but it’s not – it’s just changed recently.

Vocal fry used to be a marker found mostly among the working classes, especially in America. Think hillbillies and hicks.

Suddenly, it’s become prestigious, especially in the UK.

This shows how much accents are superficial (but that doesn’t mean they’re not important!)

Whatever vocal fry says about your position in society, it damages your vocal chords – a lot.

The reason older people get away with it is because their vocal chords are fried – this is why they speak like this. For people with young, healthy vocal chords, it’s damaging. Regardless of your social class, it will end up hurting your throat!

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