March 1, 2011 8:05 PM   Subscribe

In his recent kids-these-days piece, Clark Whelton says "Even nasal passages are affected by fashion. Quack-talking, the rasping tones preferred by many young women today, used to be considered a misfortune." Do you get what he's talking about, and can you point me to an audio example?
posted by ottereroticist to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Total guess: Something between Sarah Vowell and Snooki. Or, like what this guy is parodying. Oh. My. Gawd.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:20 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Jenna Marbles came to mind for me, not that I'm aware of any increased nasalization or raspy delivery being a broad trend in American dialects or youthful registers. Incidentally, other bits of this piece have been addressed on Language Log.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:33 PM on March 1, 2011

My guess would be maybe like Emma Stone?
posted by phunniemee at 8:51 PM on March 1, 2011

Yeah I think it's the nasal-baby-talk-lke high voice that is still sort of raspy. It's a fake-sounding voice used by rich socialite types like Paris Hilton and the Kardashian sisters and now kids who want to be like them. This SNL skit does a good job of parodying it.
posted by rmless at 9:05 PM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]

He's basically talking about Valley Girl.

Thirty years later, it's spread out of the San Fernando Valley somewhat.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:42 PM on March 1, 2011

I think he's probably talking about the standard nasal high school girl voice that's been around since the 90's (or earlier). It's definitely part of the "valley girl" stereotype, and probably came in with the rest of that fad. It's so universal that for an example, I just tried to think of the standard teen girl of the moment, which I guess is Miley Cyrus. Here's an interview with her and Taylor Swift that's a total quackfest.
posted by abcde at 11:34 PM on March 1, 2011

I think Janice in Friends.
posted by londonmark at 4:36 AM on March 2, 2011

Jenna Marbles (above) does the quack talking. The final vocalization in a breath drops down to a throaty "quack". And yes, the SNL Kardashian skits get it exactly right.

The nasal is not nasal like The Nanny, it's more subtle. It's just a failure to project. It's what voice coaches try to train out of their students. It is not using enough air to talk and the "center" of the voice is up in the head. You can try it yourself. Say a couple of words and try to "feel" where the vibrations are in your body. Then try to move the source of the vibrations around. You don't have to change the tone or pitch of your voice- just move a little more or less air and maintain the same pitch. Less air and you can feel it move up toward your nose, more air and you start to feel it in your neck and chest.

So the result is that they aren't moving enough air and sort of trailing off the last word. Instead of being voiced, the tone becomes a little burpy.
posted by gjc at 5:52 AM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think folks have done a good job of providing examples, so I'll just chime in to say that as a father of a 15-year-old girl, I hear this all the time, and it drives me nuts. Damn kids. I blame Oprah.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:57 AM on March 2, 2011

Just to share with the OP's confusion, my mother would often talk about people (most often young women) who "talk through their nose" but I've never understood what she means.
posted by Rash at 8:09 AM on March 2, 2011

Great example on this American Life, listen here, right at the start. Actually many of the young women narrating on TAL. Drives me nuts, I can't fathom why women would ever purposely aim to sound that way.
posted by tula at 10:33 AM on March 2, 2011

I have a friend who talks this exact same way! It sounds like she is using a fake voice, not really shocking that she is really insecure and very self conscience, I've noticed lots of sorority types also doing it. If I hear this it makes me think less of you as a parson, especially the older you are!
posted by sadieglass at 10:36 AM on March 2, 2011

It's definitely an off-shoot of Valley Girl/general Southern California accent. Most of the audio suggestions above have that accent.
posted by deborah at 6:07 PM on March 2, 2011

As an ex-So. Cal girl I've to say that that 80s style valley girl speak and this nasal quacking thing might be related, but you can have one without the other. The nasal quack I've always associated with the the New York area. But then again, there's a lot of ex-Long Islanders who move out to Beverly Hills/Santa Monica and back again, so I guess it's hard to pin it down.
posted by tula at 7:35 PM on March 2, 2011

Perfect example.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:03 AM on March 16, 2011

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