Why Women Elongate Woooorrrrds When They Write
3:30 pm, February 22nd | by Meredith Lepore
According to a new study, women, more so than men, tend to addddddd extra letters into words in order to convey meaning when emailing or texting. And this isn’t just when texting friends — this style is used for professional work emails as well.
The Cut writer Maureen O’Connor wrote that her male friend feels like his mostly female coworkers thinks he comes off as brash in his emails because he doesn’t elongate words. He just leaves them as is. She wrote:
“‘My co-workers think I’m rude in e-mails. They say I’m short with them.’ He then showed me a one-word e-mail: “Thanks.” He was literally being short with them. “Add vowels,” I instructed, drawing from a vast knowledge of girls-night-out e-mail chains.Thaaanks! The extra letters acknowledge that, though his message only requires six letters, his care is worth at least eight. Short utterances can look lonely on a big, blank screen; extra letters fill the void and sound friendlier in your head.”
So why this style? Do we just think it looks cool or does it actually have a purpose? Michael Erard, a linguist and the author of Babel No More, told The Atlantic we’re simply trying to incorporate aspects of verbal speech into our digital communications. “When people talk, they use intonation in a number of varied and subtle ways,” he told The Atlantic. “There’s a lot of emotional nuance that can be conveyed that you can’t do in writing. When you’re dealing with IM, texting, and Twitter, those discursive functions that add to the simple message are really crucial.”
One linguist pointed out that we are so accustomed to writing this way that when our friend answers with a normal “Hello” instead of a “Hiiiiii” we get alarmed.
I feel like this is the written version of the vocal fry in some ways because it is so specifically female and so much a part of the cultural zeitgeist. Vocal fry, or glottalization, is a low, staccato vibration during speech, produced by a slow fluttering of the vocal cords. A classic example of vocal fry is best described as a raspy or croaking sound injected (usually) at the end of a sentence. Some frequent users of the “vocal fry” include Maya Rudolph, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Jill Abramson (big time) and Zooey Deschanel. Kesha and Britney Spears also use it when they sing.
Senior CNBC Editor John Carney claims that Wall Street Women should actually get the credit for the vocal fry. “It’s ubiquitous among senior and mid-level women, and less common with junior staff,” he wrote.
So lower your voice and extra o’s to everything and you will convey…something.