When a team of Long Island University researchers published a small study in December suggesting that young women were developing a new speaking habit–a growly fluttering of the vocal cords toward the end of sentences known as “vocal fry”–the media immediately set its phasers on snark. Just one more sign that teenage girls are flaky, right? Wrong, jerks. Linguists will tell you that the vocal embellishments we associate with young girls (like uptalk? As though everything is a question?), silly though they may sound, are actually powerful tools for building relationships, establishing a pecking order and getting what they want. And that they have a way of worming their way into the larger culture. You can read more about it in my, like, Science Times article.