One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning is spread out the Washington Post on the coffee table, settle in with a good cup of joe, and watch CBS Sunday Morning. During a recent broadcast they discussed a relatively new phenomenon known as “The Vocal Fry” Being that French fries are my all-time favorite junk food, my interest was immediately piqued.
Turned out to not be exactly what I had been expecting.
It’s a little difficult to explain a vocal fry. It’s a guttural tapering off at the end of a sentence that conveys condescension, a kind of world-weariness, or, to me, stupidity. Think Kim Kardashian (ugh, I hate to even mention her). This entire generation of young women seems to be just so bored with it all.
As I was later lamenting about these disaffected women of today – honestly, what’s their problem?! – I got called on it. Pot to kettle, guess what, you’re black.
Here’s the thing: I grew up in the time of Valley Speak. OH MA GAWD! was the mantra of the day. I would have surely been offended if all women of the eighties, including me, were categorized as Valley Gurlz. But in the interest of full disclosure, I did use the terms “like” and “for sure” way too often. Still do. It’s been suggested that perhaps I should not be so quick to judge the vocal fry gals.
All this talk about verbal communications has me also thinking about my own verbal cues, little personal ticks or traits that I use to communicate during discussions. One of my verbal cues that drives my Dad nuts is that during a conversation, when I agree with you, I’ll emphatically reply;
Then I lean in and proceed to explain why I believe you’re right. It’s a way to interrupt and insert my own opinion. Yes, it’s a bit obnoxious.
I also have a shortcut that I use to disagree with someone. If you say something that I don’t necessarily agree with, I will utter a fairly dismissive;
That’s it. Talk about a conversation killer; in one little three letter word I have shot you down.
In my current heightened state of verbal awareness, I’ve also been noticing the cues of others. For example, one of my best gal pals uses a cue that is non-verbal, but very effective. When she disagrees with something that is being said, she presses her lips together and raises her eyebrows, to seemingly convey I really don’t agree with you, but I’m too nice to say it out loud, so I’ll suppress my displeasure, but I want you to know that I think you’re wrong. According to the Center for Non-Verbal Studies this is known as “lip compression.”
My Mom’s verbal cues are my favorite. Especially when we are in the car, if she does not like the way you are driving, she will occasionally pronounce;
I really cannot do justice to the affect that this sound has on me. In one utterance she is able to convey that the driver needs to slow down, move over, put on your blinker, wait for the car to pass, and turn left.
I guess in the end we all have to find our voice. Valley Speak or Vocal Frys; we all learn to convey our feelings. So perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge these younger women who are just working to effectively communicate, right?
How about you; what are your own personal verbal cues?