December 7, 2013

Uptalking is not just for females.

It's catching on amongst the males. 
"One possibility is that this is an extension of a pitch pattern that we actually find in most varieties of English which is used when you're making a statement but you're [also] asking indirectly for the interlocutor to confirm if they are with you," Prof Arvaniti said.
That theory entails the inference that males are increasingly feeling a need for assurance that there is agreement and acceptance.

33 comments:

Temujin said...

We'll all be Valley Girls one day. Now, if I could only learn to roll my eyeballs back into my head when I'm talking…I'd have it all.

Michael K said...

I'm not surprised that young men are seeking "assurance that there is agreement and acceptance. "

The English often make statements that end with a question.

chrisnavin.com said...

Temujin,

Like...totally?

EDH said...

"People talk about Frank Zappa's song, Valley Girl. Finding out where it started is very difficult because we don't have good records of how people use pitch.

"One possibility is that this is an extension of a pitch pattern that we actually find in most varieties of English which is used when you're making a statement but you're [also] asking indirectly for the interlocutor to confirm if they are with you," Prof Arvaniti said.


Except the Vally Girl was pretty definitive in her opinions, and notice her repeated catch phrase, "I'm sure".

Or by saying "I'm sure" with a vocal uplift was she asking how about you, are you sure too?

It's like GRODY...
GRODY TO THE MAX
I'm sure
It's like really nauseating
Like BARF OUT
GAG ME WITH A SPOON
GROSS
I am SURE
TOTALLY...

pm317 said...

Haha.. Megyn Kelly did a segment on this last night showing clips of her own Fox reporters and it was fun. I am beginning to like her show a lot. She is cool.

Meade said...

from UrbanDictionary:

1. Upsinging
Technique of singing, recently popularized by Bob Dylan (done regularly starting circa 2002), that involves raising the pitch of one's voice for the last word or last few words of a line. Generally disliked by his fans.
* = upsinging note

"He that gets hurt will be he who has *STALLED*"

"Mama, you just been on my *MIND*"

"Where the winds hit *heavy* on the border*LINE* / remember *ME* to one who lives *THERE*"

"My weariness amazes *ME*"

John Borell said...
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Oso Negro said...

We are producing a nation of beta males.

John Borell said...

I feel like this a Seinfeld gag:

Jerry: "What was wrong with him, why'd you break up?"

Elaine: "He was an uptalker."

n.n said...
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n.n said...

This is a side-effect of the equalization schemes. His nature is suppressed and derided. His confidence is sabotaged with generic criticism. His dignity is diminished to be equal to an animal. A man's higher pitched voice is correlated with anxiety. I guess you cannot have a human and civil rights revolution without breaking several million eggs.

It's interesting to note that in many societies, men are valued more than women, but in Western civilization, classes of women then men are valued for their exploitable leverage. Perhaps a consequence of rejecting the intrinsic value of human life.

Bruce Hayden said...

Well, regardless of intent, it will make these guys sound insecure, at least to other guys, and that is likely to be counterproductive in terms of their careers. When you have multiple males interacting, esp for the first time, there is almost inevitably competition for dominance, and for each to see where they fall in the hierarchy. Up talking, esp by males, is automatically seen by other males as admission of lack of dominance.

One of the reasons that females may tend to use use up talking is that it denies dominance, which may be helpful when dealing with males, and not triggering their innate aggression. And, yes, it may lead to a more collaborative environment, but not hurting people's feelings through assertion of personal power is less likely to get things done quickly in many cases.

I am maybe a bit more sensitive to this than some, because I have a 50+ year old brother who routinely up talks to strangers, and maybe most egregiously, to much younger females.

Interestingly though, I have taken to doing something similar to my SO, turning my comments into questions, and it seems to be working well. If I tell her that the sky is pretty blue, with the normal male down talk at the end, she likely would ask if I thought that she was stupid. But when I up talk, and maybe throw in "isn't it?" at the end, she doesn't tend to get upset, and may even agree with me.

Unknown said...

The Japanese language is that way, always seeking assurance. When I lived there, I thought that was the one big cultural difference between Americans and Japanese. Now, 20 years later, we are all become one. Sigh...

Ann Althouse said...

"Technique of singing, recently popularized by Bob Dylan (done regularly starting circa 2002), that involves raising the pitch of one's voice for the last word or last few words of a line."

Maybe Bob needs more reassurance. It's okay, Bob, we love you. Now, stop doing that.

Jim Howard said...

Typically, women are trail-blazers in language change and take up innovative features first, then males start using them later.

Typical example of Althouse's Law.

MarkW said...

Huh -- it seemed to me that uptalk was fading away in favor of the new 'vocal fry' fad:

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/faith-salie-on-speaking-with-vocal-fry/

Jason said...

Men who vocal fry. Where are the Nazi death camps when we need them?

Larry Nelson said...

Nazi's?

I have often been called a Nazi, and, although it is unfair, I don't let it bother me. I don't let it bother me for one simple reason. No one has ever had a fantasy about being tied to a bed and sexually ravished by someone dressed as a liberal.
P.J. O'Rourke

grgeil said...

Vocal Fry is also becoming a male thing. I tend to listen to sports talk radio during the work day. A large percentage of commercials (beer, motorcycles, etc) are narrated by announcers artificially lowering their voices into some fake, gravelly, pseudo Marlboro Man sound. Its annoying as can be.

Anglelyne said...

Another (really irritating) speech trend - both sexes having noticeably higher-pitched voices than in the past. What's up with that?

I'm constantly astonished hearing what I think are the voices of 15-16 year old girls on the radio, and then finding out that they're grown women in their 30s, 40s, and beyond. Accomplished Expert Lady is announced, and the some little wispy-voiced pubescent comes on the air instead. Grating as hell.

The men are just as bad - along with that godawful uptalking, the pitch of a lot of men's voices seems to be barely in "recognizably male" range.

Neither grown men or grown women used to talk like that. Infantilization? Estrogens in the water? Whatever the case, half the nation seems to desperately need voice training. Maybe Obamacare has got it covered.

BDNYC said...

I don't know the technical terminology, but one thing I've noticed among lots of young women is a tendency to use a multi-tonal sing-songy voice when listing a number of options or possibilities. "When you join the gym, you can lift weights ... you can use machines ... you can go to classes ... you can play squash ..."

With each option, the young woman sings up and then down and then up again. Some men do it too.

It's annoying. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

Carl Pham said...

Ah, I see "science" reporters are as credulous as always.

They interviewed 23 people. Let's assume 12 young men, because we don't want to assume they're morons at the start. Let's say they found that the percentage using this speech pattern doubled, from 8% (1 out of 12) to 17% (2 out of 12). OMG! A massive social trend underway!

Or, you know, statistical error with a microscopic sample size.

Well...these are the same "science" reporters who go all breathless when the cancer rate in a town of 150 is 50% higher than the national average. What they understand about math in general, let alone statistics and statistical fluctuation, could be written on a postage stamp.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

My husband (a high school teacher) read this over my shoulder just now and said that he has to beware of "uptalking" himself, because the urge to get confirmation from your students that, yes, they understand you, via adding an interrogatory tone to your speech, is pretty strong.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Angelyne,

Another (really irritating) speech trend - both sexes having noticeably higher-pitched voices than in the past. What's up with that?

I don't know. Less smoking? Less vodka?

I think I have the voice of a tenor, or a frog, depending; but actually my speaking voice comes out much more high-pitched on voicemail than it sounds to my own ears in real time. Odd.

William Chadwick said...

It's always depressing to me, when I listen to the NPR show "From the Top," which showcases young musical prodigies, how many of these very talented kids use uptalk when conversing with the host.

William Chadwick said...

It's always depressing to me, when I listen to the NPR show "From the Top," which showcases young musical prodigies, how many of these very talented kids use uptalk when conversing with the host.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

William Chadwick,

It's always depressing to me, when I listen to the NPR show "From the Top," which showcases young musical prodigies, how many of these very talented kids use uptalk when conversing with the host.

Heh. My husband was on "From the Top" some years back, when he was conducting the orchestra at San Domenico School in San Anselmo, CA. They did an absolutely blistering string-orchestra version of the finale of Beethoven's Op. 59/3 quartet. (Though NPR edited it, putting in a huge cut -- annoying.)

I don't remember much uptalking in the segment, though.

Anyway, it's here.

EDH said...
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EDH said...

I like the good old days when men were men, and a man would lower his pitch to receive "assurance that there is agreement and acceptance".

Can you dig it?

Can you dig it?

Can yooouuu diiiggg it?

Craig Howard said...

The English often make statements that end with a question.

True, but they don't do it nearly so annoyingly.

Craig Howard said...

The English often make statements that end with a question.

And, I should add, they're really asking a question. Not just seeking approval for the last random spittle that came out the mouth.

Skyler said...

All I know is that it makes Sebellius sound like the idiot she is.

ErnieG said...

I remember that Paul Harvey, years ago, used to use verbal question marks? for? emphasis? Only we didn't call it uptalking back then.