February 27, 2012

"If women do something like uptalk or vocal fry, it’s immediately interpreted as insecure, emotional or even stupid."

"The truth is this: Young women take linguistic features and use them as power tools for building relationships."

Yes, yes, remember the old rule: Whenever researchers find something to be true of females, they will interpret and report it as evidence of female superiority. As I've pointed out many times, this rush to patronize women reveals an underlying fear that women actually are inferior. It’s immediately interpreted as insecure, emotional or even stupid. Wow. That linguistics professor openly stated the impermissible belief that impelled her to figure out how to say that women really are superior: They take linguistic features and use them as power tools for building relationships.

See the tell? Power tools. What's more associated with the male than power tools? To make the female seem superior, the professor expresses herself with a decidedly masculine metaphor. Power tools. Also: building.

I'd like to see what she'd say if she found a vocal tic more prevalent in men. Perhaps: If men do something... it’s immediately interpreted as confident, rational and smart. The truth is this: Men take linguistic features and use them as Barbie Dolls for ruining everything.

34 comments:

David said...

Fry me a river.

chickenlittle said...

Having a 12-year old daughter who is just learning to speak her mind, I have to chuckle and half agree with that cartoon. There is something to it.

Chase said...

So, what you are saying is that most people interpret data dishonestly, for the purpose of accomplishing a personal agenda, rather than looking at the data and just asking "what's the simplest, most reasonable explanation.

Again - you can blame American Public Education: it is inherently dishonest about it's purposes and agenda's. That's why you can't even expect better from it's graduates.

EDH said...

Whateverrr.

Althouse: Whenever[rrr] researchers find something to be true of females, they will interpret and report it as evidence of female superiority.

In advertising: "Ew. Seriously? So gross".

edutcher said...

The old feminist rant, "A man is aggressive, a woman is bitchy".

Well, some women are. More women use the b word than men, as far as I can tell.

And aggressive isn't always a good thing.

Uncle Joe was aggressive, Il Duce was aggressive, and so was (Godwin alert).

WV "yetya" Beyond yenta; e.g., Carol Herman

rhhardin said...

Power tools in the traditional sense of vibrators is not excluded.

Bob Ellison said...

This "vocal fry" thing confuses me. Women are using their voices creatively? Who knew such a thing could happen? Let's give this small phenomenon a cool name and get people talking about it.

I gather "uptalking" is the thing about speaking declaritive statements as though they are questions? That is another example? Of creative use of the voice?

Similarly, more and more people are starting sentences, all kinds, with "so". "So, the sky is blue," says some NPR lilter.

In other news, the interjection "really?!" is used as a sign of intellectual+moral superiority.

YoungHegelian said...

Now it's teenage girls who are linguistic virtuosi!

It seemed just yesterday that it was young black men who stunned the linguistic world with their hip-hopping vocal legerdemain.

When one gets old, it's so tough to keep up!

Bruce Hayden said...

Uptalk strikes me very badly. It comes across to me that the speaker is asking for agreement, and, thus, usually approval by ending statements with a significantly rising termination.

And, that seems to indicate to me insecurity, since the speaker seems to be asking for approval of what they just said, and is too insecure to know that what they just said had value.

Of course, it isn't always an indication of insecurity. The senior sorority girls are one example.

An example of the opposite though - some cops are apparently taught to downtalk when requesting that, for example, somebody please get out of their car. It comes across as an order, but reads like a polite request. This way, they can get you to incriminate yourself without violating your Constitutional rights. (For example, if they order someone to get out of their car, they are verging on arrest, Miranda, etc., but if they politely ask them to, and they comply, no arrest (yet)).

Back to the uptalking - I know some middle aged males who use such with other adults, and it comes across as a blatant admission of inferiority and weakness.

So, why is it surprising that young women might want to use unthreatening speech? I would suggest that it is for somewhat the same reason that so many become blonds. Males tend to be larger and stronger, and when they are in their late teens and into their 20s, they are cranked on testosterone, which tends to significantly increase their aggression. "Roid Rage" (caused by taking too many steroids) is an extreme example of this. Not only is it counter-productive for females of a similar age to get into a physical dominance match with their male counterparts, it is also sexier, since it marks them as non-male, and no threat to their dominance.

And, interestingly, the author picked up on the dominance/submission cues when they noted that fathers of teenaged daughters tend to use uptalking to be non-threatening to their daughters.

Bruce Hayden said...

I gather "uptalking" is the thing about speaking declaritive statements as though they are questions? That is another example? Of creative use of the voice?

That is my understanding, and why I see using such as a sign of weakness, with the speaker appearing to be unsure of themselves when making a declarative statement. And, yes, the downtalking I was talking about turns a question into an order or at least a declarative statement.

The Crack Emcee said...

Wow:

You are truly over-thinking things.

This is a major problem of ________studies,...

Bruce Hayden said...

And aggressive isn't always a good thing.

But for males, it is an essential thing. Our aggression is how we find our place in the hierarchy, and, thus, determines our breeding opportunities. And, as long as women continue to prefer alpha males to betas for mating purposes (though often not for marriage), there is going to be evolutionary pressure in favor of male aggression.

Let me add the obvious - this isn't uniquely human, but rather is fairly uniform across at least mammals. Yesterday I was reading something about Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, the Colorado state animal. As with most horns and antlers, theirs are for fighting other males, and the larger they are, and the bigger the curl, the older and more mature the male. But, while their fights may go on all day (and their head butts can be heard for miles), they tend to not fight once they have found their place in the male hierarchy. Plus, only males with similar size and horns typically fight.

But, human male aggression often does not turn into physical violence any more. If you want to see a lot of this, just hang around a big law firm a bit. You rarely hear uptalking from attorneys, male or female, unless maybe by a junior female attorney to a senior male attorney. There is a lot of aggression there, just, hopefully, never the physical type.

Bob Ellison said...

Bruce Hayden, like you, I have been wondering about these things. So many women leave their men-- more, apparently, than men who leave their women.

But we have this myth about men. Higamous Hogamous and all that.

What makes a woman love a man? What makes a man love a woman? What induces either of these genders to stick with it?

[btw, Professor, Blogger is still broken. Leave.]

Paul Kirchner said...

I notice that NPR interviewer Terri Gross is a relentless uptalker.

Re patronizing, I remember a stand-up comedy act from years ago

Comedian: "You know what? I think women are smarter than men."

(A great cheer from the women in the audience.)

Comedian: "And you know why I say that? Because women really like it when I say that."

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

See the tell? Power tools. What's more associated with the male than power tools? To make the female seem superior, the professor expresses herself with a decidedly masculine metaphor. Power tools.

If anyone can write that without immediately linking Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction" (the "official video," still on YouTube but now requiring you to enter your birthdate before viewing -- not, it must be said, without reason -- well, I don't know what the world's coming to, that's all.

Mark said...

always a power (tool) struggle. lowest common denom.

Michael said...

Just think! Someone is paying her to dream up this silliness and then to write it down. Hopefully she herself doesnt teach but leaves that to her assistants. Tenure.

Actual linguistics,as opposed to "relevant" linguistics is very hard. I doubt she knows anything about that kind.

Fen said...

this rush to patronize women reveals an underlying fear that women actually are inferior.

How long have women allowed themselves to be oppressed by men? 250,000 years? Just saying, women should be treated as equals, but that doesn't mean they actually are. At least not according to history.

*runs*

LordSomber said...

Uptalking was bad enough when it was just females doing it. Hearing men do it nowadays is just embarrassing.

DADvocate said...

this rush to patronize women reveals an underlying fear that women actually are inferior.

The story of feminism. If women aren't inferior, why do the need all the special laws, programs, agencies, etc to suppor them? Is it a coincedence that the economy has tanked since women became the majority in colleges, law school and med schhool plus dramatically larger numbers in virtually all other professions, except auto mechanics? I think not.

Michael McNeil said...

Again - you can blame American Public Education: it is inherently dishonest about it's purposes and agenda's.

I suppose one can blame “American Public Education” for two apostrophe errors in one sentence.

Jim said...

This isn't really news. The music, fashion and personal electronics industries are driven by 13 year-girls, and if you really want to be an early adopter, you need to look at what 13 year old *Japanese* girls are doing.

Here's a tip for you: invest in the first U.S. company to develop a smart phone that also functions as a debit card. *All* the young Japanese girls are using one.

LBJay said...

Science keeps coming up with these inherit differences between Men and Women.

But if I want to hire workers with certain traits and those traits are more prevalent in one sex than the other, why am I accused of discriminating if I only look at that sex which is more likely to have the traits that I want?

tim maguire said...

I think you need to add one more level of complication to your analysis. Men may or may not think that women are inferior, but the inferiority/superiority thing is not important to us. What is important is, will women have sex with us?

Here's the real catch with men: traditionally, you had the babies, we provided the resources to raise them. Today, you still have the babies, but you can also get jobs and have careers.

So what do you need us for?

Groveling at women's feet is just a strategy some men use to get you to have sex with them. That's it.

Quenqua wrote this article in the hopes that he will one day be able to use it to convince some woman to blow him.

BarrySanders20 said...

How about this decidedly feminie metaphor from the story:

"The idea that young women serve as incubators of vocal trends . . ."

Young women as incubators. Of course, to incubate new trends, they must first engage in social intercourse and then conceive the new trends. After incubation comes the birthing and raising of the trends.

All a young woman's choice.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Times article: "Young Women Often Trendsetters"..."creating slang words like "bitchin'"--

Online Etymology Dictionary: Bitchin': "good," teen/surfer slang attested from 1950s...

Times article: "Incessant use of 'like' as a conversation filler'"

Online Etymological Dictionsry:
like: "The word has been used as a postponed filler ("going really fast, like") from 1778; as a presumed emphatic ("going, like, really fast") from 1950, originally in counterculture slang and bop talk." -- ibid.

Times article:
uptalk: "men used it more frequently than women"... "by far the most common uptalkers were fathers of young women"... "as far back as 1964 as a way for British men to denote their superior social standing."

Conclusion: women are the trendsetters in language

Shite said...

invidit"What is important is, will women have sex with us?"

'Zactly. All this noise these chicks make nowadays doesn't mean doodley squat to me.

It's the same thing they do like a troop of monkeys when it comes to clothes - which is do whatever some other monkey is doing.

Blah, blah blah - All I wanna know is can I rip off a chunk.

Ernesto A. Suarez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amartel said...

Instead of simply examining the communication phenomena described objectively (how is it deployed, is it effective, how did it develop, why, who says such things), this dullard of a professor wants to use it as ammo in the gender war. Snore. Whiny women and whiny men putting on airs and taking undue credit.

People should know better than to try to make "fetch" happen. ("Mean Girls" reference.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ENNA0cBHm8
"Fetch" (uptalking, vocal fry, like, whateverrr) will happen or not regardless of professorial or any other deconstruction of the vernacular. Especially tired lame gender deconstruction. Ugh.

Personally, I like vocal fry and, sometimes, uptalk. It can sound insecure, emotional, and stupid but obviously that's part of the message that's being conveyed. It can also sound in-your-face aggressive. It depends on how skillfully it is deployed, not on the sex of the deployer. Sorry gender warriors, but at the end of the day it comes down to the individual. Always.

Hello Birdy said...

I have come to realize that women are so strong and masculine nowadays and men are so effeminate that calling a todays men girly-boys is an insult to the masculine women of today. So my brother suggested that we call them 'doily boys' instead.

I babble but but then so what!

Hello Birdy said...

Women tend to be more articulate than men are, generally, but they don't have shit to say.

John Lynch said...

What if one of the sexes was inferior. Suppose, as a thought experiment.

What would be the best thing to do about it? Accept the truth? Or pretend otherwise?

kmg said...

This is why I often say that feminism, far from helping women, has actually exposed various female limitations far more visibly than was ever possible before feminism.

In the old days, women knew how to quietly avoid tasks that they would not be good at.

But today, feminism teaches women to loudly proclaim their superiority both before and after failing at a task they are ill-suited for. This makes female limitations more visible.

Dave said...

Do you know what a woman's voice sounds like when she's trying really hard not to cry? I know of two female politicians who talk like that, and one of them, Kelly Ayotte, got elected to the US Senate.