Listen up … It drives me insane how the English language has been infected with the uptalk virus. I can’t even watch TV or listen to the radio because everyone is talking with an upward inflection.
For those who haven’t heard of the term uptalk it’s the manner of speaking a declarative sentence with a question mark at the end.
I think I’ll go to a movie tonight?
The Bijou has a Twilight discount?
Maybe I’ll stop for a bite to eat on the way?
[A declarative statement (?) is not a question(?)]
No one knows for sure what is the origin of the virus, but it is pandemic within the younger generation especially women.
Linguists have suggested that uptalk is rooted in Valleyspeak which is associated with the surfer girls of the San Fernando Valley.
Those who adopt this manner of speech do so to fit in with their peer group. This allows upspeaking to spread like a virus throughout the culture.
You may recall the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford at the Kavanaugh hearings where she spoke exclusively with an upward inflection. I listened to her testimony on the radio and she sounded like a 17-year-old Valley girl.
Rachel Butera, the voice actress for General Leia in the animated Star Wars series, uploaded a YouTube video wherein she mimicked Blasey Ford’s speech pattern. Butera was demonized by feminist groups who accused her of mocking professor Ford.
In the video, which she immediately deleted, Butera characterized Ford’s testimony:
I don’t know why I talk like this?
I sound like I’m still 17-years-old at that party?
Again, linguists note that this is a passive manner of speaking adopted by young people who don’t want to sound demanding or bossy to their friends. They want to fit in and be accepted so uptalk is like the behavior of a dog who rolls over on his belly as an act of submission.
It was suggested that Ford was coached by her Democrat handlers to speak with an inflection for the purpose of garnering sympathy and support as one who allegedly was victimized.
Uptalk makes the speaker sound unsure, doubtful or timid. Is the person asking a question or making a statement? In the case of Blasey Ford, it diminished her credibility.
I’ve noticed, too, that people tend not to speak with an upward inflection when they ask a legitimate question because they don’t want to sound as if they’re prying.
A corporate executive needs to sound confident and self-assured. If I were interviewing CEO prospects, I would not hire an uptalker.
Just as annoying as uptalk are people who answer every question with so which has become the new um.
Q: Are you going to the movies tonight?
A: So I thought I’d go see that new blockbuster(?)
Q: Which theater?
A: So the Bijou has a Twilight discount(?)
Q: Do you want dinner first?
A: So I thought I’d grab a deli sandwich(?)
I understand that the ‘So’ virus started in Silicon Valley. Techies are notorious for speaking this way. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg did a lengthy, sit-down interview where he answered every question with ‘So’. Now everybody speaks this way.
The local news channels have advised their anchors and guests to be self-aware of this insidious speech pattern because it annoys viewers. For instance, when a candidate was asked about his prospects in the recent election he replied, “So I think we’re on track?” The added upward inflection guaranteed that he didn’t get my vote.
Most language trends are generational — like saying, you know, or starting every sentence with actually. What is most annoying is that people mimmick these trends without even thinking.
So I think I’ll end this post now?
The blog author, a lifelong conservative, holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. He has written about politics for half a century. As a teenager his commentaries were published in the local newspaper, and he has posted on Blogger and WordPress since 2007.
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