December 24, 2013

I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, you know? I am become, like, Death, destroyer of worlds?

The War on Stereotypes rolls on. From the New York Times:
Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak 
By JAN HOFFMAN 
Are you still making fun of young women for talking like Valley Girls? 
Do you assume that because their statements end in a hesitant, rising quaver (“My name is Brittany?”) they are shallow, scattered or uncertain? Even that they sound — how to say this politely? is there any way? — intellectually your inferior? 
Is there nuance hidden inside “Valley Girl speak” — and is it used exclusively by women? 
Seriously? 
For years, sociologists and linguists have studied that lilt, referring to it as “uptalk” or “high-rising intonation.” They found its presence in large pockets throughout the English-speaking world — Australia? England? New Zealand? Some date it to the 1950s, others say it is centuries old. 
In America, it became popularized during the 1980s as Valley Girl Speak, presumably inspired by Frank Zappa’s hit 1982 song “Valley Girl,” a derisive reference to the young white women of California’s San Fernando Valley who spoke it as their own dialect.

Sure, the Valley Girls at the new Sherman Oaks Galleria Mall on Ventura Boulevard were white, but they were women (or pre-women) so that means noticing anything about them is ist.

In reality, uptalking, which happened in a lot of places (Minnesota, Canada, Canton, Dixie, etc.), was just one small part of the rich insanity of Valley Girl speech. Let's go to the videotape:
You can just feel the palpable oppression that Valley Girls labored under beneath the lash of patriarchy.
Films like “Heathers” and “Clueless” perpetuated and parodied the stereotype of the speech and its purported lifestyle.

The researchers gave the speakers two tasks: using a map to give directions to a listener, and describing a sitcom clip they had just watched. 
Generally, the women did use uptalk almost twice as often as men, with their rises beginning later in a sentence and hitting higher pitches. But even in making a simple, declarative statement such as, “My appointment is at 9 o’clock,” which a non-uptalker (downtalker?) might end with a falling intonation, the men and women in this group used rises with similar frequency. 
When giving directions, a non-uptalker would use a declarative sentence, without a rising inflection. But uptalkers did use rises, as if they were implicitly asking the listener to confirm that they were being understood: “Go all the way to the right in the middle where it says Canyon Hills?” Both the men and women in the study used uptalk 100 percent of the time in these so-called “confirming” statements. 
Uptalk, the researchers found, could also serve a strategic purpose through a technique known as “floor-holding,” in which the speaker, anticipating an interruption by the listener, tries to stave it off by using a rising tone at the end of a statement. Floor-holding is the vocal equivalent of holding up your palm, as if to say, “Wait, I’m not finished!” 
In the study, women spoke with the floor-holding rise nearly 60 percent of the time: “O.K., so go toward Warren” (pronounced as a high-rising “Waa—REN?”). Men used it only 28 percent of the time, tending instead to maintain steady voices, in a plateau. Amalia Arvaniti, a co-author of the study who is now head of the English language and linguistics department at the University of Kent in England, said, “It could indicate that young women were generally interrupted more than men and so it’s a defense mechanism.”

Or it could be that young women like to talk more and thus use strategies to hold the floor. Or it could be that they develop insider lingo to exclude outsiders.

Or maybe it was fun.

Consider two similar sentences. The downtalking version:
I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. 

That's kind of a conversation stopper.

It's really not all that conducive to either the listeners or the speaker saying anything further, other than maybe, "When I hear that whistle blowing, I hang my head and cry."

The uptalking version:
I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, you know?

Presumably, the uptalker has lots more to say about himself beyond that incident in Reno, and if he flags, he's expecting his listeners to jump in to encourage him to tell them more with their own uptalking interjections like "Really?"
Here's another good bit to practice uptalking:
I am become Death? The destroyer of worlds, you know? 

A commenter notes:
I was raised in the mid-west and moved to Hollywood in 1973 when I was 14 years. A year later I moved to Sylmar, in the San Fernando Valley. I knew kids from all over the valley, and yes, girls there did uptalk different than I'd ever heard before, even in Hollywood. It was much more pervasive among the more affluent neighborhoods in the South Valley like Encino, Tarzana and Woodland Hills, but it crept North, into Granada Hills and Northridge, even into Sylmar which was still somewhat rural at the time. 

Yes, that was Moon Unit Zappa's interpretation, too: she was raised in the West Hollywood side of Laurel Canyon. West Hollywood is a densely packed adult playground of rock stars, gays, eccentrics, and culturati (e.g., Stravinsky and Schoenberg lived in West Hollywood for years). In other words, it's not really for kids. But when she ventured north into the suburban San Fernando Valley, she found that the local girls, who dominated Valley culture, uptalked more.

Valley Girl talk doesn't have much to do with patriarchy oppressing women. Instead, it emerged from the huge number of affluent Baby Boomer adolescent females in the San Fernando Valley talking to each other all the time on their Princess phones on the bedroom extension lines that their doting dads paid for.

The San Fernando Valley back then was like that Bedouin village that's so inbred that it has high rates of deafness, and therefore the deaf children had enough other deaf children around to make up their own sign language. The Valley was the same thing (minus the deafness, inbreeding, and camels): if you get enough kids together, they'll develop their own ways of communicating.

By the way, here is the 1953 song "Crescent City Blues" by Gordon Jenkins and sung by Beverly Mahr. (The song follows some scene-setting talk -- it was part of a proto-concept album.) "Crescent City Blues" resembles "Folsom Prison Blues" to the tune of the $75,000 settlement Cash paid Jenkins in the 1970s. But the melodic differences between the two songs -- chiefly in the extreme downtalking that ends Cash's choruses -- are illustrative of male and female personality differences:

Merry Christmas!

85 comments:

Anonymous said...

But how did Valley Girl Speak spread to places like rural Canada?

Anonymous said...

The problem now is that a lot of adult men uptalk. It's really pervasive now. A lot of men sound effeminate and homosexual because of the uptalk thing.

Sulla said...

You're like a total hodad Sailer! The word bitchin' is like, you know, boss 60's surfer talk.

Anonymous said...

Seriously Valley Girls dumb, I say no way.

Oh yes 1983, the Stacey from Valley Girl,, just like the future Stacey's Mom, has got it going on.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086525/quotes

Julie Richman: Do you think she really does all the stuff she says?

Stacey: You know, I think she does. I mean, who could make up 'That stuff tastes like Clorox.'?

http://movie-sounds.org/romance-movie-sound-bites/valley-girl-1983/who-could-make-up-that-stuff-tastes-like-clorox

You know on second thought that does sound like some sound deductive reasoning.

Still remember seeing the movie with a mixed group. The above line caused a spray a soda pop to shower the poor folks in front of us.

Anonymous said...

Most teens sound a bit retarded, because they are. Their brains aren't fully developed, so they seem to acquire and release assorted tics related to their phase of growth.
I always thought valley girl speak was a manifestation of neuroticism. That is, the constant solicitation for reaction from the listener, via ending an inordinate number of sentences in a form of a question. It's harder to dismiss or zone out on a person who's implicitly soliciting for a response.
Most grow out of it normally, as they gain confidence. If someone is speaking that way in their late twenties... there's a problem.

Auntie Analogue said...


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Simon in London said...

Merry Christmas Steve! :)

pat said...

I don't think it's valid to compare spoken inflections with melodic lines. The ending in the Johnny Cash version goes down because he's a bass. It is a song that exploits one of his vocal characteristics.

BTW that's Dick Haymes in the picture with whoever that female singer was. He was a radio star, maybe a bigger star than Johnny Cash - but that's before my time and I don't know a whole lot about country music. I saw a Dick Haymes movie once and I've never seen a Johnny Cash movie. That's my case.

One reason Megyn Kelly is such a hit - zooming past all the other blond former beauty queens on Fox, is her low voice. She's a modern version of Julie London. Whatever this up-talking Valley Girl thing is, it doesn't sound right when you are trying to brow beat a lying politician. You need to growl.

My Christmas thought for you Steve is - write a book about LA. The Valley Girl reference is just more evidence that people outside of LA don't understand the language. The first time I heard the term I thought it meant the San Fernando Valley and was about girls in Fresno. That didn't make much sense of course, but that's what I thought.

You could have a chapter on schools. Another on ethnics. And you are after all a movie reviewer. Such a book for you should pretty much write itself.

Merry Christmas

Albertosaurus

bjdubbs said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJsZ6NQrqGQ

Verbal fry from the world's wealthiest woman.

James Kabala said...

Interestingly, in both Bonfire of the Vanities (with Maria) and I Am Charlotte Simmons (with Charlotte), Tom Wolfe refers to uptalk as a characteristic of Southern women. I've never heard that claimed anywhere else. (I mean, I'm sure Southern women do do it, but any more than Northern women?)

Titus Didius Tacitus said...

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I lived in Africa for a number of years. Our local international school had a number of Nigerian kids from the local embassy. They had all grown up watching American sitcoms, and they all spoke valley.

I suppose reruns of American sitcoms are one reason valley talk has spread so widely.

anonynous dog said...

Dude you coulda just drawn like a Venn diagram with like a pretty picture of the Valley and its awesome cars and little trees and rooms and houses and people who at least know how to dress like they mean it and then like an overlapping purty picture of singin Johhny C. and his singin wife on it, but no you had to explain it all and then on top of everything you had to add that last piece of eighty two proof fifties nostalgia which was like I don't know a vintage piece of sprezzatura that like went totally over the top. Merry Christmas anyway...

Anonymous said...

"The Case for Female SEALs"

"Why the military is going about integrating the sexes all wrong: Women need to be in elite positions on special forces teams before they'll be accepted among the grunts of the infantry."

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/12/the-case-for-female-seals/282635/

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Steve, for reminding me about that raven-haired solid gold dancer. Man, did I have a thing for her when I was a kid!

Power Child said...

Stereotypes are typically based on real patterns, so fighting them is usually pointless at best and harmful at worst.

When she's older, what I plan to tell my mulatto daughter is if you're unhappy with a stereotype, the best response is to break it yourself, break it well, and make sure people see you do it. The stereotype will (and should) remain, but it won't be used on you.

anony-mouse said...

Okay, I haven't heard the one about the 2 Irishmen on a bus. Not quite fair to leave that one hanging.

Anonymous said...

Re: the first comment.

I spent my late 20's in Toronto, and in retrospect a lot of the girls there spoke Valley-style. (I have lived in California ever since, so I have talked with real Valley girls.)

So, I don't buy your explanation for the origin. OK?

Lenior Rel said...

As a north-easterner, I had never heard that Valley Girl accent before the movie came out, and had always assumed that the movie and subsequent media were responsible for the accent spreading as far as it did. It seems that the accent was spreading in So-Cal for years even before that.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't those be, like:

I am become, like, Death? The Destroyer of Worlds?

So I shot a man, in like Reno? Just to watch him die?

Somewhere the Fire is Hot and Johnny Cash is doing Bee Gees covers.

Mr. Anon said...

"In the study, women spoke with the floor-holding rise nearly 60 percent of the time: “O.K., so go toward Warren” (pronounced as a high-rising “Waa—REN?”)."

Of course I'll introduce you to Waa-ren.

As long as we're on the topic of Frank Zappa.

Solby said...

There is a book out called, “Sounds Like Teen Spirit” by Tim English, that covers songs that sound like other songs intentionally or not. There is a good Coverville podcast about it:
Here

Anonymous said...

Albertosaurus is so spot-on in focussing on the vocal qualities.

That's why L'il Barry Soetoro Dunham Marshall Davis Reggie Love, the professional quota hire teleprompter reader, lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - because he smokes two or three packs of Marlboros each day, and it pushes his voice down by an octave.

Sorry for all y'all high-pitched squeaky-mouse screecher folk, but in the world of high-end celebutardery, it's voice uber alles.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas?

Anonymous said...

"Why the military is going about integrating the sexes all wrong: Women need to be in elite positions on special forces teams before they'll be accepted among the grunts of the infantry."

really? an elite team trains day in and day out for a deployment. it builds camaraderie and team work. two days before deployment, a female team member announces she's pregnant. think it won't happen? it already happens in every pog unit without devastating consequences. think of what it means if that happens in fighting units.

Anonymous said...

My Christmas thought for you Steve is - write a book about LA.

I second. A lighthearted history book of post war-modern-immigration-civil rights Los Angeles would be entertaining and educational, but more importantly, reach a larger audience. don't forget the pictures.

Mountain Maven said...

Merry Christmas Steve

Anonymous said...

Completely off-topic, but I want to donate some high 3 figure sum thru Payal. Apparently that is impossible. I have seen previous inquiries, but no answers.

So, what is the deal about ISteve and Paypal? Or is this something which cannot be spoken about?

Also, the captcha images are really, really tough, much tougher than my middle-aged eyes.

So, is Isteve so well-capitalized that he doesn't really want donations? What gives?

Anonymous said...

I think it ended in the early 90's with:

"Oh. My. Gawd. Beckie.

Look. At. Her. ....Butt."

That just swept away all ValleyGirl culture. After that, what forgiveness?



Anonymous said...

The European equivalent of uptalking are the Irish. They drive me crazy.

David Feherty is a fairly humorous golf commentator, and there are several good Irish golfers like Rory McElroy, but damn, I can't stand to listen to their uptalking for too long. To the American ear, everything the Irish say ends a rising intonation and sounds like a question. Thus, WHAT they say becomes subservient to HOW they say it. Therefore, what they say rarely sounds bold, forceful, or dominant as "questions" rarely are any of those things to my ear.

Anonymous said...

In fairness "I am become Death, The destroyer of worlds." wouldn't sound impressive with an Indian accent either.

Apparently this is how it sounds in Sanskrit. (Sung by a woman, so...)

Shadow said...

Say what you will about 'Valley Girls', but in terms of absolute shallowness, superficiality, and outright idiocy, no group of females in the U.S. even comes close to surpassing the completely worthless broads you can find down in Orange County, CA.


That said, I want to wish everyone (but not the worthless broads in the OC ) a very Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

http://www.amren.com/news/2013/12/ally-financial-settles-with-government-for-98-million/

Anonymous said...

The Untruth: A geeky, unpopular boy called Mark Zuckerberg invents Facebook and is sued by everyone who says they invented it. He goes on to become an incredibly rich, geeky, unpopular boy called Mark Zuckerberg. The Oscars ‘Like’ this.

The Truth: While it’s true that the Winklevoss brothers sued Zuckerberg everyone involved was surprised it was included in the film. The real story of Facebook would be lots of men in a room writing computer code. Lol, sadface etc.

Mark Zuckerberg had a different problem with it. “The thing that I think is actually most thematically interesting that they got wrong is – the whole framing of the movie, kind of the way that it starts is, I’m with this girl who doesn’t exist in real life, who dumps me, which has happened to me in real life, a lot – and basically to frame it as if the whole reason for making Facebook and building something was because I wanted to get girls or wanted to get into some sort of social institution.

And the reality for people who know me is that I’ve actually been dating the same girl since before I started Facebook, so obviously that’s not a part of it.

But I think it’s such a big disconnect from the way people who make movies think about what we do in Silicon Valley – building stuff. They just can’t wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things.”


Read more at http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2013/the-20-most-historically-inaccurate-movies-ever/#VKRk3twBe31BSB1H.99

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that this "the patriarchy oppressing women" nonsense arose in the West - which is the part of the world with the longest history of treating women best.

Anonymous said...

The European equivalent of uptalking are the Irish.


You're thinking of the Northern-Irish, or the Scots-Irish as they're called around here. The Northern-Irish do indeed tend to uptalk, but the Irish proper do not. The Scots of Scotland are prone to uptalk as well.

Americans talk exceptionally "flat". The Irish, along with the English, the French, and everyone else in the world, employ more inflection and variation in tone in their speech than Americans do.

Anonymous said...

Steve, here's a nice Christmas present for you. You're mentioned by John Carney at CNBC as one of the "biggest names in economics and econ-blogging":

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101295601/page/2

ironrailsironweights said...

If Johnny Cash had shot a man in Reno just to watch him die he wouldn't be singing the Folsom Prison Blues. More like the High Desert State Prison Blues.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas?

guest007 said...

Maybe blacks use of placeholders is their version of "uptalking". When listen to black yell into their cell phones on the subway, I am first amazed how every other word is profanity and then am amazed that every sentence ends with the question: "Who know what I mean (or saying)?".

At work, when any female says "you know" or a black says "You know what I am saying", I automatically reply: No, I do not know. It is interesting how quickly you can make someone conscious of their verbal ticks.

candid_observer said...

Oddly, I first remember hearing uptalk among people who were undergraduates at Harvard -- the way I and others described it at the time was as uttering every sentence as if it were a question.

I particularly noticed this in a family member who had graduated back in the mid 80s, so it seems to have had a fairly long history there. Of course, with the cachet of Harvard, such an affectation can quickly spread among those who wish to appear sophisticated -- and who in today's culture doesn't? The need these days to look sophisticated is as widespread and paradoxically crass as the need to look rich was some decades ago.

One other phenomenon I've noticed is that female graduates from Yale are incredibly fast talkers. It's obviously some kind of thing there.

One wonders if this isn't what's in store for us.

Anonymous said...

I first encountered this speech pattern among sales reps for California high tech firms in the 80s. I took it as a sneaky, surreptitious way of fostering consensus, and turning an unsophisticated prospect into a sale. I have heard it referred to as the 'obsequious concluding interrogatory'. Presumably because of the identification of rising inflection with a question.

Mr. Anon said...

Moon Unit looks like a brunette Lisa Kudrow.

Anonymous said...

On a related topic, has anyone else noticed an increasing tendency to insert and pronounce an aitch sound in any str word? e.g. shtreet, shtrong, shtraight, etc. Where the hell is that coming from?

Anonymous said...

I've long noticed the southern girl uptalking as mentioned by T. Wolfe. It is real and predates Valley Girl speak, and is/was usually referred to as the tendency of southern girls to turn statements into questions.

2Degrees said...

Uptalking is the most annoying feature of Kiwi English. The phenomenon is 90% female, 80% working class and 50% Wellingtonian (according to my wife is is a 100% bona fide Southland girl).

Kiwi blokes prize the quality of "staunchness" and so rarely uptalk.

Bogan-ette girls uptalk on those rare occasions when they're not cussing.

I have never heard Maori do it, but I don't socialise with them that much.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Asked an Irishman why it seemed they always answered a question with a question. His response- "Do they now?"

Anonymous said...

Speaking of dialects (see, this is only a little OT!), I took the NYT's dialect test, and got my top 3 as Modesto, Santa Rosa and Salt Lake City. Now, I'm a fluorescent white, blonde Irishwoman who has never been to the US, so I'm thinking that I learned my English from TV.

Anonymous said...

Steve, OT, but this is up your ally. The Late, Great American WASP by Joseph Epstein is up at the WSJ.

The U.S. once had an unofficial but nonetheless genuine ruling class, drawn from what came to be known as the WASP establishment. Members of this establishment dominated politics, economics and education, but they do so no longer. The WASPocracy, as I think of it, lost its confidence and, with it, the power and interest to lead. We are now without a ruling class, unless one includes the entity that has come to be known as the meritocracy—presumably an aristocracy of sheer intelligence, men and women trained in the nation's most prestigious schools.

Reg Cæsar said...

Americans talk exceptionally "flat". The Irish, along with the English, the French, and everyone else in the world, employ more inflection and variation in tone in their speech than Americans do.

This person has never been to Finland.

Reg Cæsar said...

Why is West Hollywood a city, and Hollywood not? That's like West Palm Beach having ten times the population of Palm Beach.

Nothing tells you what West Hollywood is like better than the fact that of the 23 cities that joined in the lawsuit against gun manufacturers whose products-- surprise, surprise-- tended to kill the people they were pointed at, West Hollywood was the only one with a clear white majority. It had half the nonwhite population of the next whitest city.

Steve Sailer said...

All the Cantonese speakers in Wong Kar-wai movies uptalk like crazy.

gubbler said...

Silver Lining Playbook the most annoying film ever?

Just barely lasted an hour. For fools who think crazy = fascinating. How about just insufferable?

Narcissism of neurosis, or neurossism.

Anonymous said...

Chicano vernacular habits (think Cheech Marin) may be spreading to the rest of the LA population now. I noticed a black boy of about 8 on the news using that elonged protesting syllable on the end of a sentence: "I deedn't do notheeeeeng." Could this become the new valley girl speak?

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

On a related topic, has anyone else noticed an increasing tendency to insert and pronounce an aitch sound in any str word? e.g. shtreet, shtrong, shtraight, etc. Where the hell is that coming from?"

I had not noticed such a thing. Is this in a particular demographic group? Perhaps it is the influence of the mafia-chic that took root in this country with the advent of the Sopranos.

One thing I have noticed is rampant and flagrant preposition abuse - people saying and writing "advocate for.....something" instead of what it should be - just "advocate something" or "a robbery to a gas station....", and it drives me up the wall.

Reg Cæsar said...

And if American newspeople just have to imitate the Brits, why not mimic their proper pronunciation of the verb 'to protest' and its derivatives ('protestor', 'protesting', etc) rather than the horrid rhyming of 'Moscow' with 'Roscoe'?

That's like black people acting white by supporting gay marriage instead of, well, marriage marriage.

normann said...

Back in grad school in the mid-80s, I shared an office with an exchange student from Germany. His English was really, really good, and you had to listen very closely to hear that he was a non-native. However, and this is the funny part: he had pitch-perfect Valley Girl intonation and vocabulary. This did not make him sound gay. It made him sound like a girl. Not the same thing. Because when he spoke German, he sounded perfectly "normal", i.e. there was nothing campy about his speech at all. I found it somewhat puzzling, until the weekend he had a visitor from St. Louis. It turns out that he had been a high school exchange student there (whence the non-German sounding English), during which time he had met the girlfriend who was now visiting him. He must have spent every waking moment with her, because as soon as she opened her mouth, I knew exactly where the Val-speak had come from. He talked exactly the way she did, had no idea that guys didn't talk that way. and no occasion to learn, either. His favorite sport was cycling, a comparatively solitary pursuit, and nobody played soccer in the suburbs back then, certainly not in Missouri.

Steve Sailer said...

Hollywood is part of the city of Los Angeles. West Hollywood was an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County for a long time, which meant it had fewer laws and regulations, which was good for the nightclub business: you can pack more people in a nightclub without as many pesky fire inspections.

Eventually, the gays decided they wanted to incorporate, so they did.

There remain a variety of unincorporated enclaves within Los Angeles. I've tried to figure out what they have in common, but it seems fairly random.

Anonymous said...

The Valley Girl subculture has survived the ethnic changes in the Valley.

There are still Valley Girls, but they're Latina nowadays. No doubt a few were back in the day.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Steve, you should write a book about California in the 1970s-1980s, the Golden Era. Cover the lingo, clothing, style, music. Riding the waves at Bolsa Chica, getting a tuna and avocado sandwich at Jan's in HB, listening to the Go-Gos, Circle Jerks, and Black Flag, wearing faded blue Vans and corduroy OP shorts [remember OP?!], or Clarks Wallabees and jeans -- no shirt, walking barefoot everywhere, skateboarding down PCH in CDM, blonde hair down to my shoulders, hot chicks everywhere. Those were the days, you know?

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Striped panties and leg warmers...

Like, OMG.

mmmmmmmmm

Reg Cæsar said...

… nobody played soccer in the suburbs back then, certainly not in Missouri.

Now this is surprising. St Louis was easily the biggest US soccer hotbed outside the immigrant-heavy Bos-Phila corridor. The city supplied the core of our 1950 World Cup squad, and the Billikens of St Louis U were the kings of college soccer in the '60s snd '70s. (I grew up down the street from one of their most frustrated rivals.)

If what you say is true, this suggests some serious city-suburb division in St. Louis. Maybe the suburbs were populated by country folk rather than city slickers, as is true elsewhere in the Midwest.

ben tillman said...

His favorite sport was cycling, a comparatively solitary pursuit, and nobody played soccer in the suburbs back then, certainly not in Missouri.

Missouri was the first place soccer became popular in the suburbs, and this was before the time period you're talking about.

d..... said...

Have some fun looking at these four stereotypes:

http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2013/12/short_hills_mall_carjacking_suspect_is_1st_of_4_to_appear_in_court.html

It was huge news here in NYC area before Christmas swallowed it up.

Tell you one thing, if the fat man ever decides to run for Prez, this will be his Willie Horton.

d..... said...

I find it interesting that the female CEOs of GM and Yahoo (forgot their names) are both Finno-American women.

Curle said...

Having been raised in the South and later the Northwest, when I first encountered Valley-speak in the early 80s while traveling through S. Cal I immediately associated it with the kind of Southern female who was pampered and used uptalk to announce that fact to the world. I assume the impulse behind the pampered (for their time) San Fernando gals was similar. It announces "I'm so pampered I can go around speaking in this ridiculously cute fashion and there will be no repercussions." After all, nobody would tolerate a maid who spoke like this. Or even a retail clerk.

Anonymous said...

I noticed this in a female colleague I used to have at a call-center job. She was an inveterate "uptalker". Consequently, she often had to repeat herself in frustration over and over again to pushy customers who didn't like her answers. They clearly thought they could bully her into making an unreasonable exception or finding an impossible solution. Sometimes she'd have to transfer the callers to me. I have a rather deep, resonant voice- I've had several people tell me on separate occasions that I talk like Jack Nicholson, or that I sing like Johnny Cash- and I make a habit of using firm and resolute down-talking whenever I have to give someone an answer that I know he isn't going to like. I'd always give the exact same response she did, but I almost never had to say it more than twice.

Anonymous said...

This girl I know does what she tells me is a perfect imitation of a Chicana valley girl. I wouldn't know because I haven't had any occasion to speak with one, but apparently the common "but like" has morphed into an even more annoying, Spanglish "pero like."

Though in Spanish class I remember learning that interrogative sentences are supposed to have a downward pitch. I suppose the consensus-seeking effect of uptalk would be lost upon Spanish native speakers.

Anonymous said...

On a related topic, has anyone else noticed an increasing tendency to insert and pronounce an aitch sound in any str word? e.g. shtreet, shtrong, shtraight, etc. Where the hell is that coming from?"


It is the native Hungarian pronunciation of the letter S as in Budapesht and Eshterhazy. Alsho it ish to be found in The Netherlandsh.

Chris said...

@James Kabala:

In reality Southern women don't uptalk. Here's an example from my life, the speaker being a native of Savannah:

(Big smile) "Chris, when a 47-year old woman asks a young man how old he is, it's because she has a young friend." A slight uptalk or question appears at "is," but the end of the sentence actually goes down.

nice cake said...

Steve, Gordon Jenkins' son Bruce Jenkins, a longtime sportswriter for the SF Chronicle, is one of the chief enforcers of the protocol of not noticing things. Back in 2000 he went ballistic against Reggie White for saying that blacks and whites were good at different things. Just the other day on radio he said he'll vote for the 'roid users for the HOF because he doesn't make "value judgments." He lives in a seaside town called Montara, where there are no blacks.

Drawbacks said...

Heathers had no uptalk in it that I recall, although it was about bitchy, well-off (supposedly Ohioan) girls.

ben tillman said...

In reality Southern women don't uptalk.

I agree. It's not a Southern thing.

Ash-pair-ger said...

On a related topic, has anyone else noticed an increasing tendency to insert and pronounce an aitch sound in any str word? e.g. shtreet, shtrong, shtraight, etc. Where the hell is that coming from?"

It is the native Hungarian pronunciation of the letter S as in Budapesht and Eshterhazy. Alsho it ish to be found in The Netherlandsh.

In German, ST and SP are pronounced SHT and SHP.

ben tillman said...

Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak

By JAN HOFFMAN


What an annoying article! It never attempts what it promises. It disproves one alleged myth that no one actually believes (only women uptalk), and it cites two myths that it never examines (uptalk began as "girltalk; people who use uptalk are "dumb").

BB753 said...

Uptalk seems unstoppable, as it´s the norm in Hollywood, sitcoms and news reports. Not as much male reporters (who still fake deep "radio" voices for some reason, unlike British talking heads with a broader pitch range)but female newscasters, who uptalk entusiastically as if they´ve been trained to do it at every sentence. Uptalk is often accompanied by rising overplucked brows, wide open lifeless eyes and a vertical shaking of the head. Altogether a very displeasing experience for listeners.
Once it spreads to male hipsters and prevails among them (as seems to be the case), it´ll become universal.
Along with the rising pitch at the end of utterances, final vowels which are usually neutral (schwa)in unstressed position sound full: e.g. Warren above, where instead of a shwa sound or a syllabic consonant you aave a sound approaching the vowel in "hen".I find this development more disturbing than the uptalk as it affects general pitch.
I´d rather eat glass than watch American newscasters or anchormen (or anchorpersons?).

Anonymous said...

http://stuartschneiderman.blogspot.com/2013/12/as-turkey-implodes.html

Anonymous said...

Old Fogery I hated the surfer crowd . Most people didn't surf and the surfers I knew in High school were dumb not to say they were not some smart surfers but surfering is a lot less popular in both LA and Orange County than the media makes it out to be. In fact the Mexicans with the low riders were more interesting than the surfers. The low riders are cool while surfing is not that easy to do. In fact I looked up low rider clubs in the US still mainly Latin and they are in states like Indiana you can't say that for surfing.

Sulla said...

@Laguna Beach no-so-old Fogey

It was the 50's and 60's that were the golden years in Orange county. No shortboards messing up the lineup at short critical spots and lots of room for paipos and bodysurfing. Secret spots still existed. You could still pop down to Baja with no long waits at the border or Mexican locals in the lineup at primo EMPTY spots.

Corona Del Mar was the last suburb of continuous L.A. on the coast and then the Irvine Ranch offered miles of undeveloped rural chaparral with the cattle being the only residents. Lots of orange groves. NO LAGUNA NIGUEL! NO MISSION VIEJO! Just rural countryside. Laguna, South Laguna, San Juan Cap were all towns separated by rural countryside.

The girls were White and blonde with great tans, the gardeners were Japanese not Mexican, and you could get a date shake at roadside stands on PCH. You could still sleep in your car or on the beach if you knew where to park.

Watch Big Wednesday (leaving out the stupid surfing sequences filmed in Hawaii.) There is a lot of cultural truth in that movie.

It was you guys that messed it all up with your shortboards, neon colored wetsuits, and stupid-ass music.

Colleen said...

It was the 50's and 60's that were the golden years in Orange county.

Imagine what it must have been like in 1750, before the Anglos messed it up, or 1450, before Whitey messed it up.

Sulla said...

"unlike British talking heads with a broader pitch range"

This has only been since they let the lower classes onto radio and TV.

Mr. Anon said...

"Sulla said...

""unlike British talking heads with a broader pitch range""

This has only been since they let the lower classes onto radio and TV."

The profusion of non-posh accents has made british film and television unappealing and unwatchable.

Unknown said...

When you learn Chinese (or I suppose any other tonal language), the question arises: How do I indicate the interrogative phonetically? The usual way in an English sentence is to add high-rising tones to the concluding syllable(s). If high-rising tone is an actual phonetic property of actual words, however, how do you do interrogatives?

The answer is: You raise the pitch of the entire sentence. There are, to be sure, sentence-terminating particles (-ma, -ba) to mark the interrogative, but for real interrogative force you up-pitch the entire sentence: Chi fan le ma? ("Have you eaten yet?")--a routine greeting--is uttered in a high overall pitch.

Unknown said...

When you learn Chinese (or I suppose any other tonal language), the question arises: How do I indicate the interrogative phonetically? The usual way in an English sentence is to add high-rising tones to the concluding syllable(s). If high-rising tone is an actual phonetic property of actual words, however, how do you do interrogatives?

The answer is: You raise the pitch of the entire sentence. There are, to be sure, sentence-terminating particles (-ma, -ba) to mark the interrogative, but for real interrogative force you up-pitch the entire sentence: Chi fan le ma? ("Have you eaten yet?")--a routine greeting--is uttered in a high overall pitch.

Anonymous said...

Wow, they got only $75K? Should have asked for a lifetime percentage. The song obviously was taken over by Cash with only slight modifications.