DEAR MISS MANNERS: A faddish way of speaking, called vocal fry, has permeated the nation. This grating habit involves purposely making one’s voice sound gravelly.
It is to the point that I bristle when I hear someone talking to me utilizing this annoying style. While I can politely remind family members to please speak clearly, I cannot do the same with sales associates and phone contacts. Is there a polite way to draw this to their attention, or must my ears simply bear it?
GENTLE READER: What did you have in mind? “I hate the way you speak”?
If you must point out the irritant, Miss Manners will allow it only if you express concern for the protection of that person’s voice, not your ears: “Oh, dear, you sound as though you have a cold. Perhaps we can talk more when your voice is fully recovered.”
If the speaker protests at being fine, you may lightly press forward, saying that it does not sound quite right, could be damaging to the vocal cords, and should, perhaps, be checked out.
Miss Manners further recommends that this method be applied for both family members and acquaintances. Because etiquette-wise, there should be no distinction.