[Lingtyp] query: vocal fry, creaky voice and phrase-final phonology

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at stanford.edu
Fri Oct 17 11:09:02 UTC 2014

this comment went only to David Gil, when it was meant for the whole list:

On Oct 16, 2014, at 5:07 AM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu> wrote:

> On Oct 16, 2014, at 4:15 AM, David Gil <gil at eva.mpg.de> wrote:
>> [to Enrique Bernardez Sanchis]
>> I agree that terminology is a serious issue, but -- putting aside whatever prejudices some of us may harbour against the US and/or its juveniles -- I don't think that TALKING ABOUT US juveniles necessary signals a desire to BECOME one.  The term "vocal fry" is already in use by non-US non-juveniles (whether it is also in use by US juveniles themselves I do not know).
> as far as I can see, "vocal fry" originated as a (metaphorical) technical term for a register in singing (and then in speech therapy).  i don't think US juveniles use the term, though i'm not sure what they call it (though i've heard 'gravelly voice").
>> Incidentally, another colleague of mine just wrote back to me personally asking why we don't simply refer to vocal fry as creaky voice (which I suspect would be more accurate than either laryngealization or extra-low intonation).  My response to him was:  "My impression is that "vocal fry' is used to denote a particular case of creaky voice, in which it spreads over longer stretches of speech, and has no phonemic function.  Sort of like the distinction between intonation and lexical tone, as two distinct manifestations of pitch."
> David is right on the mark here, I think.  "creaky voice" denotes a state of the glottis (and its accompanying acoustic consequences), so it's useful to have a term for creaky voice spread over stretches of speech ("vocal fry"), parallel to pitch settings over stretches of speech, versus other uses of creaky voice, in particular lexical creak (like lexical pitch) and the descent into creak at the ends of utterances, when thanks to pitch declination in prosodic units, speakers are no longer able to maintain voicing and descend into creak.
> arnold

on ordinary-language terms for the phonation (and much else of use), see:


The Semiotic Hitchhiker’s Guide to Creaky Voice: Circulation and Gendered Hardcore in a Chicana/o Gang Persona, by Norma Mendoza-Denton, from the Journal of Linguistic Antropology

Mendoza-Denton's young informants had no term for the vocal quality (and were puzzled by the question), though they deployed it quite frequently in their speech.

now David Gil in e-mail asks if the declination effect and its connection to creak is common knowledge -- the answer is yes (i learned about it from Ilse Lehiste some decades ago) -- and whether there's a standard reference on the matter (i'm away from my library, but surely someone on the list can supply a good source).


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