California girls have been known for talking in a dialect referred to as “valley girl talk,” or “uptalk,” where they raise the pitch at the end of each sentence as if it were a question.
Now, the BBC reports, the uptalk dialect is spreading to men. “We found use of uptalk in all of our speakers, despite their diverse backgrounds in socioeconomic status, ethnicity, bilingualism and gender,” said Amanda Ritchart, a linguist at the University of California. People who speak uptalk are often misunderstood to be insecure, shallow or slightly dim, according to her team. (Amen to that. I have even heard uptalk recently in a young woman from the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania.)
The study was based on only a tiny sample of 23 native Californians between 18 and 22 that did not include anyone close to our age, but it is seminal because pitch has not been analyzed in previous studies of Western languages.
Soon we may all sound like valley girls?