M.A. Work

You can see slides of a version of this I presented at NWAV46 here.

Creaky voice as passive stancetaking: Creak, class, gender and power in modern Britain

My M.A. dissertation looked at creaky voice (sometimes called vocal fry) and its use amongst a small cohort of middle/upper-middle class London millennials.  I was primarily looking at whether we could say that creaky voice has a “proto-iconic” meaning — a meaning which comes from motor sensory analogy, given its low frequency.  Using sociolinguistic interview data, I then looked at how this “proto-iconicity” can be exploited in context for affective style construction, and how these stylistic practices can then map to broader social properties such as class or gender.  I argue that creak can be used to temper emotional moments and regain control in interaction.  As such it can be quite a powerful tactic.  A finding from my data is that creak use correlates to higher social status identities in men, and the data supports previous studies, in that creak is used more overall by women than by men.  I tentatively tie both these points back to creak’s “passive” proto-iconicty.  If you’d like a copy of this paper, you can email me at erlake@stanford.edu.