Keep Calm and Fry On Transcript

Megan Figueroa
Hi and welcome to the Vocal Fries Podcast, the podcast about linguistic discrimination.

Carrie Gillon
I’m Carrie Gillon.

Megan Figueroa
And I’m Megan Figueroa.

Carrie Gillon
And today we have kind of a, I guess you’d call a retrospective. We decided we wanted to like look back on our first year and see what we’ve learned and… but what we’ve taken away from this experience.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Because everything keeps coming up over and over again. [laughs]

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, not to like toot our own horn, but it’s always like something happens in the news. And it’s like, well, here’s episode such and such for you to listen to. Because we talked about this.

Carrie Gillon
Sure. It’s nice having a back catalogue. Although there are so many things left to talk about.

Megan Figueroa
No, I know. I mean, there are things that come up in the world where I’m like, we don’t have that episode yet. [laughs] But it also means we have some job security.

Carrie Gillon
[laughs] Well, “job.”

Megan Figueroa
Yes, yes. Sorry. I’m a millennial, so the word job is just– we throw it around. We don’t– it doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Carrie Gillon
We want to thank two new patrons from last month.

Megan Figueroa
Yay!

Carrie Gillon
Chris Slot and one of our former guests Peter Jacobs.

Megan Figueroa
Peter!

Carrie Gillon
I know. He’s the best.

Megan Figueroa
He was episode five On the Rez. Yeah, we really appreciate the Patreon support. Of course we appreciate any support like saying hi to us on Twitter or… all of the– all of the like the low key support that maybe we don’t say thank you enough for– we always appreciate all that.

Carrie Gillon
Yes.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, it’s fun to interact with all of you on Twitter.

Carrie Gillon
It is.

Megan Figueroa
And it’s fun, because you never know which one of us you’re getting

Carrie Gillon
There are clues, but

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
You have to pay attention.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Anyway, so yeah, so just a reminder, we also have our July bonus episode up on Patreon with Daniel, Ben and Kylie from Talk the Talk. And you can get that at the $5 level. And they also interview us for their Patreon. So if you want to listen to them… talk to us?

Megan Figueroa
And they’re a weekly podcast. So…

Carrie Gillon
Oh, really? Nice.

Megan Figueroa
I think so. So you get a lot a lot of episodes there.

Carrie Gillon
They do a lot of episodes and they’ve been also doing it for like six years I think they said?

Megan Figueroa
Oh my gosh.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, yeah. Hey, who knows? Maybe we’ll be still doing this in five more years.

Megan Figueroa
Well I mean, I think I said it before but when my partner was like, how are you going to have enough material? I was like, just side-eyed him. And went on with my day, because I was like, You don’t understand.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, there’s just so much linguistic discrimination. So much.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah yeah, like, I mean, we’ve already done, for example, like chicano English kind of like an overview, but we can do a chicano English episode where we talk about how it affects kids specifically in like K through 12. You know, it’s just like you can take any one of the episodes that we’ve already done, and they’re like 10 more episodes in them because language affects a lot. Again, because it is a proxy for so many other things.

Carrie Gillon
Well it’s kind of foundational, right? You can’t really do anything that involves sort of like human ingenuity,

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Without language really, you know, pre-language, what were we doing? I mean, there was tool use

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
But you know, we already know that other animals also use tools, but like basically everything that we think of, you have to have language.

Megan Figueroa
Right. So one of the things in this retrospective that I wanted to, to make clear when we say language, we mean both modalities, we mean speech and we mean sign, and I think that that’s something a lot of times that the– like, when people maybe think about language or write about language that they forget.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, most people do forget about sign language, I think unless you actually explicitly say sign language. But what yeah, when we say language, we mean the particular kind of communication systems that humans use. Not just, you know, gesture on itself– on its own, but like, you know, structured signs, and the structured signs can be spoken or they can be signed.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, so yes, yeah. We haven’t done a sign language episode yet and I– we’ve been talking about this since day one that we want to do that. So hopefully, that will happen soon.

Megan Figueroa
Yes. It’s like it’s definitely on the to-do list to-want list [chuckles] to want. Definitely want. But yeah, and I mean, I think that’s just one of those things where I always see stuff on the internet, I can tell that our deaf and hard of hearing friends are still struggling to get people to understand that sign is language, and it’s heartbreaking. But yeah, I guess just reminding people, it’s the same as speech. It’s just a different modality.

Carrie Gillon
It’s a different modality and I– one of the things I meant to bring up is there is something kind of, as far as I know, actually unique about sign language that doesn’t exist in spoken, and it has to do with pronouns or deixis or like pointing. So… when you introduce somebody in sign– apparently– you can do this thing where you say, you have the person’s name, and then you point to a space in the like signing space. And then when you want to refer back to that person, you just point to that spot.

Megan Figueroa
Oh, that’s amazing.

Carrie Gillon
Right?

Megan Figueroa
Yeah yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Because the modality is different, you can do slightly different things.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Which is fun and cool and interesting.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah yeah.

Carrie Gillon
But that’s not like, that doesn’t make it bad or worse. It just makes it actually more interesting.

Megan Figueroa
No, yeah yeah yeah.

Carrie Gillon
So anyway, I really want to talk about it. So at some point, we hopefully will.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah yeah. And one other note that not all sign is the same.

Carrie Gillon
Right. There are different sign languages. Yes, yeah. So ASL, the American Sign Language, is spoken– or signed– in United States and parts of Canada, but Canada also has a second one at least one second– one other one, probably more, which is the Quebec Sign Language, which is used by–used in areas that are Francophone. So mostly Quebec, but other parts too.

Megan Figueroa
That’s one thing I wanted to say where I’ve noticed over this past year, not that any of our listeners have said anything, it’s just that the things that I keep coming up against on the internet now that I’m paying more attention– like I’ve always paid attention to obviously stuff related to language because I am a linguist– but now I have this like, different lens. I’m like, how would it be related to the podcast, and how can we talk about this? And I see so many people making at a certain point very, like ableist error, that…

Carrie Gillon
Yes.

Megan Figueroa
That that sign is not language.

Carrie Gillon
Right.

Megan Figueroa
So.

Carrie Gillon
Or like a lesser form of language.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. Right.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. And you know, like, you’re you do that implicitly when you say things like Coco mastered sign language.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah exactly.

Carrie Gillon
As opposed to she knew some sign– signs.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
She didn’t know some signs. They were modified, but they were signs like, I don’t want to take that away from her, but all she had her words basically.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
That’s all she had. And so to suggest that anything more than having some words, very problematic.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
So don’t do that. Not that our listeners are probably doing that. But you know, tell– spread the word.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah yeah.

Carrie Gillon
So another thing that keeps coming back up, over and over and over and over again.

Megan Figueroa
Oh, my God, are you going to talk about vocal fry?

Carrie Gillon
Fucking vocal fry! And I knew– I knew like, especially since we set up our name to be vocal fries, like okay, this is the thing that’s gonna come up a lot and you know, it’s come up a lot ever since 2011.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Before that? Nothing. There’s a reason for that.

Megan Figueroa
Except that even though existed.

Carrie Gillon
Of course, it’s probably always existed since people spoke.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
But yeah, it definitely existed, even in the sort of like stereotype of what people think about it now before that, but no one was aware of it.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Until a certain study came out in 20– It came out in 2012, but it was advertised in 2011, and so… late 2011’s on we’ve been talking about it. So it’s like, okay, seven years later, we’re still talking about it. People still think it’s okay to shit on. Even when we’re like, hey, you know, shitting on vocal fries is sexist to people at least we’re like, here’s why you’re wrong. Like, what are you doing?

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, but I was gonna say it’s not just men, as much as we…

Carrie Gillon
It’s not.

Megan Figueroa
Sometimes I joke and think it’s always men, it’s not and that’s actually very important.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, misogyny is– can be internalized.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, exactly.

Carrie Gillon
We’re swimming in it. It’s really hard not to be a misogynist in this culture.

Megan Figueroa
Right. And it really affects– really affects you. And I just remember when I first heard about what vocal fry was, there’s been two people in my life that have told me to get rid of it that were really important to me. I mean, not because I like looked up to them kind of thing, but because they were authority figures. And I grew up, and my parents taught me listen to authority figures, right? I mean they’re supposed to know. And it just made me feel really shitty about myself. And it was like– I wasn’t gonna be able to change this. I’d have to go like speech therapy to change or you know, get some sort of vocal coach. Like that was a thing. I would have to take like actual steps to fix some quote on quote fix something. And it really sticks with you. And don’t we have a letter?

Carrie Gillon
We do have a letter. Yeah, we do. So someone sent us an email, and I’m not sure if she wants us to say her name. We only have the first name but just in case I’m not going to because it seems very personal. But I do think that the message is really important. So…

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
So she says, “I just want to say thank you for your amazing podcasts and for bringing up topics that really hit home for me. I had a horrible experience my first semester of college in my public speaking class that still bothers me. I was never afraid of public speaking but my professor made me embarrassed of my own voice. I still feel insecure about it. She took points off every speech for vocal fry and uptalk, told me I was damaging my voice, and questioned my credibility in front of that class because of my voice. She said, I talk the way I do because I’ve been conditioned– I’ve been conditioned to believe I’m less powerful than men. I’ve been upset about this for so long, trying to change something that is not easy to change. Thank you for making me feel more confident about myself.” Thank you so much. And oh my god, I am so angry on your behalf because…

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
First of all, let’s unpack all that language ideology.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
You’re damaging your voice. Mhmm? No. I don’t know how– I don’t know how anyone can believe that about uptalk. Certainly not, but even vocal fry, which I guess maybe when you’re singing might because singing is hard on your voice, so or on your vocal cords. So it’s possible that adding vocal fry might– in that case– I’m willing to admit that that might be true, I don’t know for sure, but that seems plausible. But just talking? Like you have to show that to me, and no one’s ever shown it to me. People keep saying it with no evidence.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Number one, number two. Question your credibility because well, because you’re a woman really, it’s got nothing to do with the way that you talk, it’s because you’re a woman. It doesn’t matter how you talk, you talk too masculine or you talk too feminine, you’re gonna get shit on.

Megan Figueroa
Yep.

Carrie Gillon
Then, she said that you’ve been conditioned to believe you’re less powerful than men. I’m assuming that’s directed to the uptalk part. First of all uptalk, men use uptalk too, even in– even in the United States. It’s used slightly differently by men and women according to the studies that I’ve read. But still men use it. And men are more likely to use it the more authoritative they are like the more authority they have. So the higher they are on the social hierarchy, the more likely they are to use it. So using it is not a sign of insecurity. Fuck that.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. And, also, it actually is true that we’ve been conditioned to think we’re inferior to men, you know, but she’s the one that’s actually displaying it.

Carrie Gillon
Yes.

Megan Figueroa
This teacher is.

Carrie Gillon
Yes.

Megan Figueroa
She’s the one that’s that’s displaying it by saying these vocal characteristics that you have are making you sound less than or uncredible. Because somewhere along the lines, she has determined these are female vocal characteristics.

Carrie Gillon
Right. Which a. neither of them are female characteristics. Women do tend to use vocal fry slightly more than men in North America, but only slightly more and, yeah. We just don’t even notice… Well. I do but lots of people don’t even notice when men use it. So I just think… maybe with younger men, men use it less, slightly less at least that’s what the studies say. But with older men, I think it’s flipped. Neither of them are actually gendered in the way that we think. They’re slightly gendered, but not in the way that we think. And neither of them show you so any kind of insecurity thing I mean, vocal fry was until 2011, associated with authoritative men. It’s only after the study came out that we suddenly associated it with women and therefore because we think women are flighty and silly, and all these bad things, now we associated with all those things, every time this comes oup, I just like I see flames, I’m so angry. Because the more I know about it, the more of I’m like…

Yeah, the thing that makes me saddest about this letter is that she says that she actually– I don’t know if she said she likes or she’s good at public speaking? I don’t know.

She felt like really confident about it before.

Megan Figueroa
Ok, that’s the sad part for me.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, this professor destroyed her confidence. Why?

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, for what good reason? You know, and I hated public speaking.

Carrie Gillon
Was that a class?

Megan Figueroa
For me?

Carrie Gillon
Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
No it was like when I’m in grad school, and they’re like, you know, you’re gonna have to give conference talks and stuff. So you need to get your shit together and not use vocal fry. So I was already like, unconfident and it’s like, you know, whatever. But for me to hear someone say that they were confident and like, and you know, it’s to be like, come on.

Carrie Gillon
And to have that be taken away. Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. And okay, so, all right. It’s a public speaking class. But like we said, in like our first episode, we need to, like flip the script and it needs to be like if your feedback has to be about vocal fry you need to be like, “You were great. Everything you said was great. I believed everything you said because you said it confidently, but they’re going to people that shit on you because you use vocal fry.”

Carrie Gillon
But you also should say, “But you know what doesn’t matter because no matter how you talk, someone is going to find fault with it. You’re going to sound shrill, you’re going to sound too breathy. You’re going to sound too babyish. You’re going to sound too masculine, you’re going to sound too feminine. It doesn’t matter. Women can’t win.”

Megan Figueroa
You’re gonna say um too much, you’re gonna say like in there.

Carrie Gillon
Right, and men are not going to get in trouble for those things. Only women usually there are some cases where men do get in trouble for saying like too much like the time– the Piers Morgan thing from a few episodes ago? But generally speaking men can get away with a lot more stuff than we can. And so I just think instead of being okay with that, we can just say, “No!” I’m going to sound confident in the way that I feel confident in. You know, like, let’s, let’s focus on internal confidence as opposed to sounding confident, which is not a thing. Like…

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
There’s no like, template for what that actually sounds like.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. And, I mean, this podcast is actually well, doing a PhD program too where you’re forced to speak all the time. But this podcast has made me feel a lot more confident in speaking, I think because we’ve decided at the very beginning to call ourselves a vocal fries, but also to like, I mean, just the message of linguistic discrimination is here and it sucks. It’s like oh, I kind of have this like, protective force around me where it’s like, people that listen if they actually listen, they know that the way we speak is not as important or important at all, compared to our message– compared to what we’re saying.

Carrie Gillon
Right. We explicitly– that’s explicitly our message.

Megan Figueroa
Exactly, exactly.

Carrie Gillon
Focus on content, not on aesthetics. I mean, it’s not that it’s that aesthetics are always bad or wrong or anything. It’s just… That’s an internal decision for yourself. Like there are certain people, I don’t like the way they talk. I never say it out loud

Megan Figueroa
Right, right, right.

Carrie Gillon
Because that’s a shitty thing to do. And it’s really more about me than it is about them.

Megan Figueroa
It makes yah an asshole. If you say it outloud.

Carrie Gillon
It would make me an asshole.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Having an opinion is fine.

Megan Figueroa
Right right.

Carrie Gillon
It’s when you state it for no real reason.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Other than to what make yourself feel better? So anyway… Yeah, I love that it’s making you feel more confident about speaking. So I had to like get much better at speaking. You know, the first time I ever gave a talk I was in my last year of undergrad, and I spoke a mile a minute. I was really terrified. But you know, I’m much older now so I don’t– I still get a little nervous but it’s not the same. And certainly for this. It’s very different because the audience comes later.

Megan Figueroa
I know. It’s the best. If only all talks were like that.

Carrie Gillon
Well, actually, I do actually like being in the room with people. Because it’s more I don’t know like it’s more personal and you can get feedback right away and… so I like both. They’re just different.

Megan Figueroa
I would love to be in a room with Vocal Fries listeners,

Carrie Gillon
Yes

Megan Figueroa
Because that would be fantastic.

Carrie Gillon
That would be fun. Maybe one day.

Megan Figueroa
Everyone’s so positive and good.

Carrie Gillon
Oh, and so one last thing about vocal fry. We also– some of you probably saw this– we also got into a kerfuffle on Twitter about this with a guy, called himself a communications expert, who complained about vocal fry, up talk, and like. The trifecta of sexist bullshit.

Yeah.

Yeah. So…

Megan Figueroa
It was a kerfuffle.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, I don’t know if he’s still made his tweets, if he still has protected his tweets, but that was kind of that was kind of satisfying that…

Megan Figueroa
He blocked us and then he unblocked us to say some more shit.

Carrie Gillon
Yes.

Megan Figueroa
Fantastic.

Carrie Gillon
And then later, he protected his tweets because he realized that he wasn’t coming off well, so…

Megan Figueroa
No. It got pretty, pretty ugly,

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, it did.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
It could have been worse because it could have been more than one person and all that like it could have been a mob

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
But anyway.

Megan Figueroa
Let’s just say he threatened to sue us. [both laugh]

Carrie Gillon
Which made me laugh so hard.

Megan Figueroa
I know…

Carrie Gillon
If he’d been American I might have taken him more seriously but he- he was in the UK, and I’m like really?

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. Try me, bro.

Carrie Gillon
I don’t think you can do that– I mean, maybe you can but it’d be hard I think to sue someone from a different country.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, yeah.

Carrie Gillon
So another thing that keeps coming up is accents.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
And luckily, there’s been a few things more recently that have been more on the positive side.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, there was a New York Times– should we call it an op-ed? They must.

Carrie Gillon
It was an op-ed, yes.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, called Everyone has an Accent. Remarkable.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. My favorite thing about that is someone- someone– I don’t remember who it was apologies– basically pointed out this is like The Truth and yet it’s an op-ed.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, that’s why I was like, “Is it an op-ed?” But yeah, that’s that’s why I was confused because someone had said that. Like this is this is a truth. A capital T truth.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, this is as scientific as it gets. But…

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
We can’t do that with linguistics still.

Megan Figueroa
No, because people still don’t believe us that it’s a science for one thing.

Carrie Gillon
No, I mean, it’s still categorized as humanities in many places, and it’s like– there are humanities elements, and there are parts of linguistics that are straight up humanities, but the vast majority of it is not.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. At U of A it’s a social and behavioral science. No, never is it in like the mind green behavior or that’s what the other one where like psych is in and Speech and Hearing. I’m like, No, it belongs over there. But anyway. So Everyone has an Accent by Roberto Rey Agudo. Just thank you, Roberto.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
Like, you know, it’s one of those things where it’s like, of course, I would have like, tried to do this a long time ago: write an op-ed that says everyone has an accent. But I guess for linguists sometimes it’s like, since it’s one of those capital T truths, we forget that we need to… kind of get the message out?

Carrie Gillon
Well, I mean, that’s what we’re doing with this.

Megan Figueroa
Right, exactly, exactly.

Carrie Gillon
It’s just a different way of doing it. But yeah, I was- I was happy to see that because there have been many things recently in the New York Times that have made me so livid.

Megan Figueroa
Oh, yeah.

Carrie Gillon
This is nice.

Megan Figueroa
This is definately not an endorsement for the New York Times. Not at all. More an endorsement of Roberto. But… so his first line is “I have an accent so do you.” I mean, full stop, like you just need to stop there and that’s like all you need to know. But…

Carrie Gillon
Well, no, people need to be convinced, so.

Megan Figueroa
It’s true. So Anne Friedman, who is the co-host of Call your Girlfriend. I’m on her like, weekly newsletter, and she shares all the things that she’s been reading this week, and the one that came out yesterday, so Friday the 19th or 20th, or whatever, was this– this article was in there. And so I thought it was kind of poignant to see that there. And it made me think either she shared it because it was something enlightening for her or because she wanted other people to know, you know…

Carrie Gillon
Right, right.

Megan Figueroa
And it reminds me that even like people that I think of as like really smart and who are well-read and who are up on like current events and all that stuff may not know this as a truth.

Carrie Gillon
No, they don’t. Many people don’t.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
So…

Carrie Gillon
It also reminded me of what Carmen Fod said on our episode. Where she said, you know, it’s like saying, you just have a model of a car. No, you have to make and model of a car.

Megan Figueroa
But yeah, I just wanted to mention this one, just because I think it’s– as listeners of the show, and for us as linguists to fight, we’re gonna have to keep fighting for a bit I think.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, yeah. And it also reminds me of something that someone Lisa Green, I believe? At the LSA said earlier this year, so the LSA is Linguistic Society of America. Our annual meeting is in January every year, so she was talking about, but African American English and how we keep having to say things over and over again about this lang- this language variety and how it’s- it’s not a bad variety and blah, blah, blah, like every every generation, you have to keep saying the same things over and over again. And she pointed out, that advertisers would laugh at us if- because we think we have to say things once, and then it’s good. And that’s not the way it works. You have to say things over and over and over again before people finally start to believe. I mean, this is how propaganda works as well, right? But…

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Not just propaganda, like true things. You have to say it over and over again. So I think that’s one thing that I like about doing this podcast is yeah, we get to reiterate things over and over again. Hopefully people will start to absorb it.

Megan Figueroa
Right. Maybe people are just listening for the first time today and they’re like what- what’s the problem with suggesting that not everyone has an accent? The problem is that when we think that we’re othering people, we’re- we’re putting one accent as a default, which we do already- which is a problem.

Carrie Gillon
But we’re– but not even that. We’re saying there’s a thing that has no accent. And then there’s accents. Which is bizarre.

Megan Figueroa
Right, yeah yeah yeah, okay. It’s not a default accent. It’s like accentless.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, yeah, it’s impossible.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. And that would be like, white middle class like news anchor talk.

Carrie Gillon
Right. Like a basically an accent that only exists on TV.

Megan Figueroa
Right. Or what we’re saying is basically accentless. And then everything else is “other”.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
Right. So we don’t want to do that because…

Carrie Gillon
We don’t want to do it. We don’t want to do it because it…

Megan Figueroa
It’s not true.

Carrie Gillon
Makes people feel bad. But yeah, even more importantly, it’s just not even true!

Megan Figueroa
Right right. Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
And then there was also another- another article on accent in Slate, and it was actually an article about Sorry to Bother You the new movie, but Boots Riley.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, okay, I can see that.

Carrie Gillon
Ok, I wanna talk about it. But if you haven’t even seen it?

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, no. I almost was like, maybe we should do it Sunday so I can see Sorry to Bother You today.

Carrie Gillon
Well, maybe we wouldn’t want to talk about it cuz maybe we would spoil it for people.

Megan Figueroa
We could do it as a bonus.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, let’s do this as bonus for August. Anyway. So one of the main features of it, which is in the preview, so… or the trailers, so you would know this, is that he puts on a white voice. And it’s a really extreme white voice.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
So the article in Slate, how sounding white helps you get ahead on film and in real life. So it goes through like how people at least the United States, 70% of the time in a study in 1999. So who knows if it’s still true, but…

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Could correctly identify someone’s race based on just them saying hello. It’s interesting, and there’s- so there’s some really interesting stuff in this in this article, but also watch the movie because it says some very interesting things about race and capitalism, and it’s one of the weirder movies I’ve ever seen. And that is not a bad thing.

Megan Figueroa
That’s exciting. That makes so exciting.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
It reminds me of recent MTV decoded mini episode with Franchesca Ramsey where it was just you can’t sound white, and I shared it from Twitter. But they basically, non white folks go through talking about how messed up it is when you when you claim that they sound white.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
So that’s also good.

Carrie Gillon
Yes

Megan Figueroa
It’s like, three minutes, it’s a good watch. But it all goes back to the same thing of having this- this like, quote unquote, ideal accentless way of speaking and then everything else is…

Carrie Gillon
Also that your accent means something about who you are as a person.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
So if you’re a person of color, and you sound too white, then maybe that says bad things about you.

Megan Figueroa
Right. And in this little video, they’re talking about how for some people that means that the- their community shuns them,

Carrie Gillon
Yep.

Megan Figueroa
Because you’re kind of a sellout.

Carrie Gillon
So it’s perceived as a sellout.

Megan Figueroa
Yes, yes, yes, it’s perceived as a sellout for sure. And it just reminds me that we have so many different people we still need to talk to on this show.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, we need to do a lot more. A lot more.

Megan Figueroa
Yep.

Carrie Gillon
And another thing that keeps coming up, and this is a more recent episode, so maybe that’s why but the 30 million words.

Megan Figueroa
Yes, yes. Aside from it being like, one of my favorite episodes because I love Nelson, he just really hit all the points. It was a great episode. And now… the episode is like popping up everywhere.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, it even made it to a health blog. What?

Megan Figueroa
I know! I know. World domination. But- but people are still talking about the 30 million word gap. It was on NPR’s code switch podcasts too where they talked about it. They talked to someone like an education journalist. So…

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, that was a little unfortunate that they didn’t talk to a linguist.

Megan Figueroa
Or an anthropologist- educational anthropologist writeror… anyone. Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, why talk only to a journalist about this? That seems so strange to me. Like, a journalist is a good person to intermediate maybe like to gather all the information but like, they can’t be the only source.

Megan Figueroa
No. Yeah, they are an intermediary. That’s what you are as journalists,

Carrie Gillon
fYeah.

Megan Figueroa
You know, so it’s like, you can’t really get the nitty gritty, the important stuff that someone like Nelson can give you.

Carrie Gillon
Right.

Megan Figueroa
But yeah, no, I mean, that episode made me feel really empowered. And I was like, we need to– there are things that we need to fix, and we can do it. But yeah, no, I feel like there have been so many tweets at us where people are like– basically had their minds change it feels like.

Carrie Gillon
It does. Yeah. Which is really great. And it really speaks to Nelson’s ability to change people’s lives.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you were at all like, ignorant or whatever, beforehand. It was more like, Oh, okay. I had some sort of knowledge before but I really feel like I have a better- better idea of what’s happening. And I have some steps I can take to like maybe let people know about what’s happening, or maybe even makes things better. Honestly, the first step of making things better a lot of times is just changing the way that you think about it.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, it’s basically admitting what’s going on, right?

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
That’s step one. So, that’s why even when someone only admits something, and doesn’t actually apologize for it, I’m still happy because that’s step one. It’s not enough.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, yeah.

Carrie Gillon
But it is step one, and so baby steps. So baby step number one is just admitting that hey, this deficit nonsense is nonsense.

Megan Figueroa
Right, yeah. Yeah, I mean just think about the word deficit. Gah, it feels icky. Why do you want to keep calling it that?

Carrie Gillon
I don’t know. I- I mean, I think Nelson kind of explained it, like it makes us feel better. Because it’s like, well, we’re not the problem. It’s the those people over there that’s the problem. And so instead of being like you know what, we have like two different cultures here.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Can we do something can we meet in the middle? But we don’t– white people– we think that way. We don’t think that way. We’re like well everything revolves around around us. We conquered the world. Look at us today.

Megan Figueroa
We don’t have accents. Y’all have an accident, not us. Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. Yep, we’re unbiased. [both laugh] We see the world as- in totality.

Megan Figueroa
Tell us how it ends.

Carrie Gillon
Well, not well.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
I mean, no matter what we all- we all die.

Megan Figueroa
Oh it’s so comforting.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, yeah. Eventually the earth will be destroyed. No matter what.

Megan Figueroa
Speaking of hill– speaking of dying and hills– let’s get into hills to die on. Yeah, we’ve gone over a few where I feel like people are gonna die on the hill of saying that vocal fry is annoying.

Carrie Gillon
Yep. There going to be like, oh, it’s just an aesthetic thing. That’s fine. Keep it to yourself.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, exactly. Like if you hate my blouse, you know, keep that to yourself.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, people don’t go up to you and be like, “Why do you have that haircut?” Yes, it’s basically what you’re doing.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I also thought they’re gonna people who die on the hill of not everyone has an accent.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, that one seems even weirder to me because– like really? Like…

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Nobody- nobody has the- this like super standard, like white Anchorman on TV, and I say Anchorman on purpose. Like nobody- nobody has that accent except for people on TV.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
So I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but I’m like, well, obviously, I have an accent.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, yeah.

Carrie Gillon
So who are you who thinks that- that you don’t have an accent or that someone else doesn’t have an accent? I don’t- I don’t get it.

Megan Figueroa
I remember the last time I didn’t think I had an accent and I was like five and I– talking to my aunt who’s like in Arkansas, and she was like, “Oh my god, your- your accent is so thick.” And I was like, “Oh.”

Carrie Gillon
Interesting.

Megan Figueroa
I guess we both talk differently.

Carrie Gillon
That’s interesting.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. Is there any other big things that keep coming up to us over the past year?

Carrie Gillon
Well, you know, like “literally” and “like” still come up not as much interestingly, vocal fry is really the thing that’s the most picked on. It used to be uptalk. You know, pre 2011, it was uptalk. And now- and now it’s vocal fry. But I’m still team literally used it as an intensifier. And team like. I love like.

Megan Figueroa
I love like. Yeah, like and um are going to be– I’ve seen a lot of stuff like that.

Carrie Gillon
Oh, yeah, “um”. It does come up a lot. I just– I get that if you’re giving a speech or something, it sounds more speech-like if you’re not using these filler words. But outside of that genre? I don’t know why people care.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Or like maybe on radio like if you’re- if that’s your job, maybe. Maybe it would be weird if you were using a lot of ums. But again, like it’s a job there’s like certain expectations that I’m like, okay, fine, let’s… But like outside of that, who cares? And podcasts– I mean, unless you’re like a super professionally produced podcast–

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Who cares? But people really really care.

Megan Figueroa
They do. They will not listen to podcasts. We had a comment– or I saw a comment– that was like I listened to like two minutes. I’m not gonna listen to that podcast because of vocal fry. And like, wow. Like you’re limiting yourself to like access to different kinds of knowledge or…

Carrie Gillon
Also you’re lying, because so many people use vocal fry.

Megan Figueroa
Right, right.

Carrie Gillon
That I just don’t believe you.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah yeah.

Carrie Gillon
I believe that you’re only cutting out women.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Who you use vocal fry. And probably women who use vocal fry to a greater extent than a lesser extent. Because like you use it more than I do, but I still use it.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
And I don’t know if anyone would notice that. So. So one of the first people to complain about vocal fry was this woman. I think she goes by Abby Normal on YouTube. And so it was like right after the first- the study was first advertised. She did this whole thing about vocal fry, and she put it on really heavily and then also did these other things because it’s never really just about vocal fry. It’s about vocal fry plus things like we’ve talked about before. So she was using a lot of sort of nasality and… She put on this weird New England accent at the same time, too? It was very strange. I was like, how what? Anyway, but then when she took off the vocal fry, she was still frying.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Just not as much. So she-she was she was like had all these hedges like, you know, use it a little bit, it’s fine. And I’m like you’re using it a lot more than you think you are.

Megan Figueroa
Yep. Yep. Exactly.

Carrie Gillon
It’s not really about vocal fry. It’s about something else.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Anyway. So I feel like this is this is definitely going to be the fight that we’re going to continually fight partially because of our name, but partially just because it’s just so acceptable still.

Megan Figueroa
it is. It is. And, and it’s it’s even grosser when it gets, like coupled with with racism and all these other things. So it’s not just- it’s not just you and me like people like you and me that are using vocal fry. It’s gonna be all- you know, it’s gonna be black women, it’s gonna be trans women, right? Like we all use it, and we’re all going to be attacked for it.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. So it’s interesting that you bring up trans women because the first thing that I could find in the media where vocal fry was really used was like 2009 I think? And it was talking about how these voice coaches were trying to train trans women not to use vocal fry because vocal fry was associated with men. So in two years, it went from a feature of male speech to a feature of female speech and suddenly it got worse.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Gee, I wonder why?

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, exactly.

Carrie Gillon
Women of all races get attacked for it, although I do think that white women get attacked for it slightly more, partially because black women or what other women of color get attacked for other things.

Megan Figueroa
Yes.

Carrie Gillon
Instead.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. It’s like it’s gross hierarchy. Like we’re gonna attack your blackness first.

Carrie Gillon
Right.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah,

Carrie Gillon
Exactly.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
And the fact that we’re focusing on this does not mean that we think it’s the only thing or the worst thing, it’s just a very common thing to complain about. Anyway, it’s not okay. To attack something, even if it were just about white woman, it was still not be okay.

Megan Figueroa
Right, right.

Carrie Gillon
But it’s not- it’s not just about white women.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
I also wanted to talk about the fact that this podcast has sort of brought new people into our lives,

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
A lot of new podcast- like a lot of people who are in the podcasting community that I never would have met otherwise. And there’s too many people to list but I wanted to thank especially people that we’ve like, either been interviewed by or interviewed. So like Suzy Azzam, Best Forevers Pod– eventually is coming out– Pod Magazine which should come up soon-ish, Talk the Talk, It’s a Worry, two out of the three women from Wine and Crime,

Megan Figueroa
Yes, but all of them.

Carrie Gillon
The troublesome terfs, and then you know, just like the map- all the members of the Lady Pod Squad, the Underdogs, and there’s just been so many great people in the podcasting community.

Megan Figueroa
I know.

Carrie Gillon
That I would never, ever interacted with otherwise.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, so supportive.

Carrie Gillon
Very supportive.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, I’ve heard like bad things about YouTube communities and stuff, but podcasting community is very nice.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. I haven’t had any bad experiences. I know other people have.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, sure.

Carrie Gillon
But I haven’t yet.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
So, that’s good. A whole year of it and nothing.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Nothing bad.

Megan Figueroa
Yep.

Carrie Gillon
And so yeah, I really want to thank everyone who actually is listening to two ladies yell at you to stop being assholes.

Megan Figueroa
And man yelling at you in vocal fry!

Carrie Gillon
See! Even you did it. You put on this other thing…

Megan Figueroa
I know.

Carrie Gillon
That is not vocal fry!

Megan Figueroa
I know, I know. Well, me just talking is vocal fry, so… [both laugh]

Carrie Gillon
That is true.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
So, yeah, thanks for listening to us. And again, if you have any ideas, any suggestions, feel free to shoot them at us. We have a list. We’re hoping to get to all of them.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, I mean, we can just keep going, right? Like, we’re indie. So maybe like, just make sure to write us a nice iTunes reviews so we get some bumps on the iTunes Store, the podcast store. That’s how it works, right?

Carrie Gillon
However that works.

Megan Figueroa
I don’t know.

Carrie Gillon
I know- I know that reviews do matter, but there’s not that many linguistics podcasts. So maybe it doesn’t matter as much for us? I don’t really know.

Megan Figueroa
That’s true.

Carrie Gillon
But good reviews are always helpful.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, we love doing this, but remember we’re indie, so we would love if you could review us. Consider being a Patreon supporter, because we appreciate it so much. More than we can say.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, it helps us continue to do this.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
For sure. And we’re almost at the $100 a month level which is nice.

Megan Figueroa
Yay!

Carrie Gillon
Yeah.

Megan Figueroa
I mean, we might have a few little- a little things coming out soon. That are–

Carrie Gillon
Yes. We have a surprise thing coming out very soon.

Megan Figueroa
Yes.

Carrie Gillon
And we will post about that. Probably around the same time that this episode comes out.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. So. So yeah, that’s been a– that’s been our year. We’ve talked a lot about– we’ve had to talk about and defend vocal fry on the internet. [both laugh]

Carrie Gillon
Yes, and we’re gonna continue to yell at people for shitting on vocal fry.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Not because it’s the only thing that matters but because it’s our name.

Megan Figueroa
Yes.

Carrie Gillon
And feel free to to like ask us to talk about other things as well. It’s just that’s what we get tagged in to talk about the most.

Megan Figueroa
It’s true. Yeah. And, think about that letter that we read earlier because that reminds me of, I mean, maybe it’s okay that we’ve spent time talking about vocal fraud because of things like that.

Carrie Gillon
Yes. Yes. All discrimination matters.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. Exactly.

Carrie Gillon
And none of it– none of it’s okay. And, you know, I also want to reiterate that we’ve both participated in linguistics discrimination in our past…

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
we probably still are and we don’t even know, and every time something new comes up, I do think about it, and I do try to process it

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
Internally.

Megan Figueroa
Yes.

Carrie Gillon
Because doing it on the internet is a bad idea. I don’t know why people do it.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah, yeah. I know. Twitter is not your diary.

Carrie Gillon
I mean, if you want it to be, it’s fine. I just don’t get it. I’m too private, I guess? Like this is the most public thing that I really do?

Megan Figueroa
I mean, it’s pretty public.

Carrie Gillon
It’s public, it is public, but it’s also somewhat… polished.

Megan Figueroa
Carrie edits out all the problematic stuff. Nah.

Carrie Gillon
I do- I do edit out some things that maybe haven’t been fully cooked yet.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. Oh my god…

Carrie Gillon
It’s fine.

Megan Figueroa
I have so many uncooked ideas. That’s just… Thank you.

Carrie Gillon
Don’t we all?

Megan Figueroa
I just never… I hate cooking. [both laugh]

Carrie Gillon
You know, I used to too, and now I actually kind of like it.

Megan Figueroa
Oh, well.

Carrie Gillon
Oh, you know what? I also wanted to say one more thing. At least since I was a teenager, I realized that I had a certain amount of privilege, right?

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
Like, I saw the racism in my hometown towards First Nations people. I saw it very plainly and towards other people of color too, but that was the worst. It’s still, you know, knowing something like that and learning more through linguistics, learning all these like– all the structural hierarchy of bias and etc, etc. Somehow I still learned more… like truly how privileged I am through this.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
You know, like one of the things that people really appreciate is how like, you talk about your connection with Spanish. I have nothing like that. Right? Like, I don’t even know how many generations ago my family didn’t speak English. I don’t know.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
That’s how privileged I am. And so like, that’s actually kind of a… it’s a good thing to realize. You know what I mean? Like, it’s like, oh, yeah, this is I have this place in the world, and I need to recognize it and really deal with it.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. And I feel like you’re doing a really amazing thing by conceiving of this podcast, and that’s you… in one way dealing with it.

Carrie Gillon
It’s true. Absolutely. But I didn’t think about it that way at the time.

Megan Figueroa
That’s true. Yeah, I guess- I guess that’s something you come across this last- last year. Maybe, you’re a fortune teller.

Carrie Gillon
I don’t believe in that stuff. But yeah, maybe. [both laugh] But anyway, so I just wanted to like acknowledge that I do have this privilege, and I’ve known about it, but somehow you don’t know it all. And I’m sure there’ll be more that will come towards me that I will be like, oh, I need to unpack this too!

Megan Figueroa
Oh, me too, yeah. Especially like when we did “they theirs and them” with Kirby.

Carrie Gillon
Right! Yes.

Megan Figueroa
You know, like, shit. I’m so privileged.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah, I like– trans stuff– it’s like- it’s not like I’ve complete- been completely ignorant of it…

Megan Figueroa
Right! Right, right, right.

Carrie Gillon
But I know a lot less about that than many other things.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
I don’t know what it’s like to be trans at all.

Megan Figueroa
No.

Carrie Gillon
You know?

Megan Figueroa
And then when we finally do our episode on African American English, and then when we do it on sign language, all these things going to remind me like how the world is much more accessible to me.

Carrie Gillon
Oh, yes.

Megan Figueroa
How it’s much more arms wide open for me, in comparison to a lot of people so…

Carrie Gillon
Right and for me even more so than you.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah. I guess we would say that we kind of hope that we’re showing that to listeners too.

Carrie Gillon
Yeah. I can’t share like this intimate thing about myself, like you did with your- with your pronunciation of your last name. Like, I don’t have anything like that. So instead, I’m just gonna like, here’s my privilege.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
That’s all I can do. Like, that’s me opening up as much as I can.

Megan Figueroa
Right.

Carrie Gillon
So thank you, everybody for listening.

Megan Figueroa
Yeah.

Carrie Gillon
And next episode, we don’t know when it’s going to be, but it’s going to be something interesting I’m sure because it always is.

Megan Figueroa
Yes, and I’ll learn everything because I knew nothing. [both laugh] And listen, don’t be an asshole.

Carrie Gillon
Do not be an asshole.

Megan Figueroa
Bye.

Carrie Gillon
Bye!

The Vocal Fries podcast is produced by Chris Ayers for Halftone Audio. Theme music by Nick Granum. You can find us on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @vocalfriespod. You can email us at vocalfriespod@gmail.com.

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