Hello, all! This is my very first review on this blog, and there is no better first podcast to review than The Vocal Fries, a current favorite of mine.
At its core, The Vocal Fries is an informational linguistic podcast that seeks to broaden the world’s knowledge of how much linguistic discrimination affects our daily lives. If it sounds at all boring, I am here to tell you that it is one of the most relateable and timely topics that everyone should learn more about. Each episode ends with a simple call-to-action, one that I think we can all truly get on board with: “Don’t be an asshole!”
Carrie and Megan are both trained linguistics with a long history of work in the academic field. However, their back and forth banter is not one of unintelligible academia, but rather of two friends sharing a topic they are passionate about. Being from two different countries and backgrounds, one American and one Canadian, their input is both varied and inclusive of global issues. Each and every episode is very easy to follow and understand, and the topics they cover are utterly fascinating. I will say that this is my first time delving into the fascinating world of linguistics and I have already found myself subscribing to more podcasts on the topic simply because of Carrie and Megan’s work. Language is such a unifying force throughout the world, and linguistic discrimination is unfortunately just as widespread (and I had NO idea!!).
In their first episode, they tackle what is called “vocal fry”, a term used in linguistics to describe a particular speaking pattern that is very common but often more recognizable in women. Because of the association with women, it has become a taboo in industries that require voice usage, such as radio hosts, news anchors, and actors, that honestly has no grounding in fact. A person is not of lesser intelligence simple because of the way they speak, despite what you hear and see in the media.
Starting with this topic, Carrie and Megan systematically proceed to dismantle everything I thought I had known about language and the way we speak and interact with other humans. From swearing to southern accents, grammar nazis to French-speaking Canadians, even a very well done and respectful episode on the usage of the singular they/them as a pronoun identity, these women make you completely rethink how you interpret the way others speak. Each episode includes a guest, sometimes other academics but often not, who have specialization in a particular type of linguistic discrimination. Carrie and Megan lead the guest through very thoughtful and interesting questions and ensure that everything is easily understood and explained while also joking about and throwing in some of their own personal anecdotes.
Some particularly fascinating episodes that I would suggest starting with (although they are all great):
Episode 1 – Uppity Women
Episode 4 – Grammar Not-zi
Episode 9 – ChicaNO? ChicanYES!
Episode 18 – Don’t be an Accenthole
If you are interested in expanding your knowledge of language and how it can positively and negatively affect the world around us, I would absolutely start listening to The Vocal Fries. It is so important, especially in the current political climate of anger and hate, to understand how our words and judgments can affect others. We can work to dispel hurtful judgments that can have real-world implications for so many people every day, and in doing so can contribute positivity and politeness.
That does it for The Vocal Fries, as always check them out on iTunes and follow their twitter for future updates: @VocalFriesPod
Remember: Don’t be an asshole!