No, this isn’t some code for the latest cookery or fitness fad… These terms describe patterns of speech that – apparently – many young women follow.

But what does it mean?

You may not know what ‘vocal fry‘ means, but chances are you’re familiar with the sound. Think Paris Hilton’s Valley girl growl; that low-pitched creaky sound that seems to indicate a certain world-weary boredom.

Uptalk is characterised by a high rising pitch at the end of sentences, making statements sound like questions?

Run on occurs when a speaker joins together two (or more) sentences without appropriate punctuation.

What’s the problem?

A study published last year stated that the vocal fry may undermine young women in the workplace because its user can be perceived as less trustworthy, reliable or hireable. Linguist Robin Lakoff wrote that that uptalk leads to its users sounding unassertive and uncertain, reflecting and compounding women’s subordinate social status (since women are more likely to use uptalk). Run on sentences can undermine the power of the user’s point by diluting their core message.

Should I do something about it?

A recent Guardian article on the subject quotes a 29-year-old data analyst as saying:

Admitting that I had a voice problem and then having the guts to practice strengthening it gave me confidence, as that process took a lot of courage.”

She took voice training, and felt the benefits in her career.

A person’s voice is an intensely personal thing and no one should feel like they have to change the way they sound. However, if you feel like you need to improve the way you communicate ideas, present yourself or speak in public, vocal coaching or elocution lessons could be worth considering.

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Check out more articles on elocution and vocal coaching at The Tutor Pages, or search for elocution tutors near you.