30th November 2018, Volume 131 Number 1486

Jeremy Hornibrook, Tika Ormond, Margaret Maclagan

Vocal fry or creaky voice is a type of voice production that seems to be becoming more prevalent and more popular within New Zealand, particularly among young women who apparently…

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Vocal fry or creaky voice is a lowered rough voice sound that is volitional and is becoming a common vocal style in some New Zealand young women. Voice laboratory studies conclude that as marriage partners, men prefer women with higher voices. Paradoxically, both men and women rate lower voices in women as sounding more authoritative. Online surveys reveal negative public perceptions of vocal fry in young women. Middle-class young women lead language change in new word expressions and speech sound changes. Their increasing prevalence of extreme vocal fry may be an equivalent voice phenomenon or fashion.


An extreme use of a voice feature with a lowered rough sound called vocal fry or creaky voice has become increasingly recognised in American, British and New Zealand English speaking young women. It is not regarded as an involuntary voice disorder, but rather as a volitional strategy. Intermittent vocal fry is recognised as a common voice feature, particularly at the end of a sentence. It occurs at the lowest range of a speaker’s F0 (pitch). We present evidence that vocal fry use is increasing in young New Zealand women. This article is to highlight the new phenomenon of extreme and sustained vocal fry as a vocal style, which is the first voice feature to have come to the attention of the general public through the news media.

Author Information

Jeremy Hornibrook, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Christchurch Hospital; Retired Adjunct Professor in Communication Disorders at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch; Tika Ormond, Clinical Educator/Speech Language Therapist in Communication Disorders at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch; Margaret Maclagan, Retired Adjunct Professor in Communication Disorders at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch.


We thank the members of the New Zealand English classes at the University of Canterbury who collected and transcribed the data for the Canterbury Corpus. We also thank Dr Boyd Davis and the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of this Viewpoint article.


Prof Jeremy Hornibrook, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Christchurch Hospital, 2 Riccarton Avenue, Christchurch 8011.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests



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