• TEDxNJLibraries

The New York Times reports on a recent study in the Journal of Voice on the speech habits of young women. Researchers found that some feminine vocal habits—like “uptalk,” the practice of ending a sentence on an ascendent note to evoke a question—aren’t, in fact, “markers of immaturity or even stupidity” but markers of a sort of linguistic vanguard. Douglas Quenqua writes, “Girls and women in their teens and 20s deserve credit for pioneering vocal trends and popular slang, [researchers] say, adding that young women use these embellishments in much more sophisticated ways than people tend to realize.” A new trend, Gawker noted a few months ago, is vocal fry, a “guttural fluttering of the vocal cords” that I couldn’t quite imagine until I listened to this mp3. This is interesting stuff, though troubling—one hopes that it didn’t really take a rigorous scientific study to determine that young women “take linguistic features and use them as power tools for building relationships,” as opposed to just being dumb.