24 Comments

  1. Vocal fry is the latest “uptalk” or “valleyspeak.” Unlike uptalk, which is a rising intonation pattern, or valleyspeak, which covers a general grab bag of linguistic features, including vocabulary, vocal fry describes a specific sound quality caused by the movement of the vocal folds. Low, gravelly, rattley, creaky.

    Stephen Fry is another story.

  2. It’s also known as “creaky voice”. And I’d say Trudeau may be the one out of touch. Complaining about vocal fry, especially when women speak that way, was a thing like 5 years ago. It was said that women using it were perceived similarly to women using up-talk or Valley Girl speech. That might be because the Kardashians made it popular or because, as many pointed out, it was a handy club for criticizing women.

  3. Thanks, @Catlover and @SingaporeBill. I had totally forgotten the very concept of vocal fry in the last four or five years, so the Doonesbury just made me vaguely know I used to remember that word.

  4. Catlover very smartly used the term “vocal folds”. The formerly most widely used term, which I grew up with, was “vocal cords”. But that one was done in by disputes over preference for a different… well not even really just a different spelling but a different word, the homophone “vocal chords”.

    For us “vocal cords” speakers, the “chords” was a sort of cute mistake, based on the word for multiple pitches sounded together. But then the defenders of “chords” said Nonsense!, it was never that mistake, it has always been the geometric sense of “chord” as a straight line taking a shortcut across an arc. Disturbingly sensible.

    What a relief it was to leave the controversy behind and adopt “folds”.

  5. @ Mitch4 – I had never heard of the term “folds” before I read your comment. I don’t think a silly spelling mistake with an extra H was enough of a reason to switch to a new word.
    P.S. In German, they are usually called “Stimmbänder” (vocal bands), but the technical equivalent to “folds” appears to be “Lippen” (lips).

  6. Vocal fry happens to anybody always who is talking for a long time who hasn’t studied and practiced breath control. It’s a specific thing you need to train yourself out of in oratory — as you come to the end of your breath in an utterance, you begin to lose force, and your vocal folds don’t vibrate as energetically as before, and begin to rattle.

    A professional speaker — or singer — learns to maintain the force of their lungs all the way through their entire phrase, either through formal training or trial-and-error; a person who doesn’t do this professionally or as a serious hobby won’t know to do that, let alone how.

  7. On Episodes (I show I liked at first, until, ironically, they dragged it on for yet another season…), there was one character whose entire schtick was she had an annoying voice; the culmination of her story arc came in the following scene (she’s the one in the middle):

    She’s a very good actor, I always thought it was a total waste of her talents, but I guess working on an American show beats being talented in the UK… (especially if it keeps getting renewed despite having beaten its horse to glue…)

  8. larK this is an excellently selected and titled clip, since it is this character, with the annoying voice, who remarks of the unseen actress in the audition , “Her voice annoys me”.

    I agree that “Episodes” was best in its first season and fell down after that. But if you stick with it to the end, it does a very charming take on self-referential re-creation — without the horrifying “Can you take the challenge of putting together the innumerable narrative puzzle pieces and snippets to create the well-ordered chronological narrative we are withholding from you?” games that destroyed the late seasons of “How I Met Your Mother” and “Arrested Development”.

    BTW, right after “Episodes” Stephen Mangan was in another tricky-simultaneity-plot show, “Bliss”, which was intriguing but disappointing.

    Kilby, if my comment was the first time you saw the term “vocal folds” you may have missed Catlover’s earlier comment, which I was replying to. But anyway, though “vocal chords” looked to many of us like a simple mistake, it turned out there were reasoned arguments brought in support of it. So a diplomatic sidestep to another term made sense, and it was probably a better term anyway.

  9. This was in my local paper’s Sunday Comics section. Only thing is, they didn’t have the first two panels and started with the “Go ahead caller” panel. I didn’t see the FRY line at all until now. I wonder how many comics we see are actually truncated for space, sometimes changing the intentions of the creator.

  10. Traditionally, the first few panels of Sunday strips are “throwaways” that the paper can remove for space. The strip should not rely on them in most cases, although there have been cases where some shift in the rest takes place.

  11. @ Brian – There isn’t any rule that says “should not”: artists are free to do whatever they like, but they are aware that newspaper editors have the same freedom, and given the continual shrinkage of available space, there are not many Sunday strips that get printed with those “throwaway” panels intact. However, I have occasionally seen a “throwaway” joke that was better than the rest of the strip.
    P.S. Watterson gave an excellent description of the standardized Sunday comic strip format in the “10th Anniversary” collection of “Calvin & Hobbes” (along with his reasons for disliking it). Besides dropping the introduction, the panel format gives editors a number of different stacking arrangements, so that they can fit each strip into any sort of page layout.
    P.P.S. For several decades, Schulz completely wasted the first half of the “Peanuts” Sunday “throwaway” panels on a gigantic title card, including the words “Featuring Good Ol’ Charlie Brown” in huge letters. It wasn’t until after his death that I realized those words were probably his personal protest against the syndicate, which had inflicted the title “Peanuts” on the strip despite his objections, and never-ending dislike of the name.

  12. It sounds like what you post are some good reasons why a cartoonist should not rely on them being there. It doesn’t have anything to do with freedom. If I say you should not walk in the street at night wearing dark clothes, it isn’t about your freedom.

  13. @ Brian in StL – That’s exactly what I meant. There are excellent reasons for not putting important information in those panels, but that still doesn’t keep it from happening. The same is true for the idiotic teenagers who ride around in the evening on bicycles without lights, wearing dark clothes. Numbskulls.

  14. My flawed memories of the 70s had Mark as a conservative talk show host, where Stephen Fry’s intellect might have been challenged, but that was quite wrong.

    The more I listen to visual fry, the more I think of Elmer Fudd.

  15. Mark Slackmeyer was the liberal talk show host of “All Things Reconsidered.” (A sometime guest on his show, however, was his then-live-in-lover, a closeted gay neoconservative — it all ended in tears.)

  16. She mentions that helicoids have found use in popular culture as wind chimes. Here is a sort of helicoid hanging in a doorway of mine; it is quite silent, but it is adjacent to a wind chime indeed. (And formerly was in a window next to a curved prism for projecting sunlight rainbows, which probably came from the same science museum store as the adjustable helicoid.)

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