BBC Says More Men Talking Like Valley Girls

A few days ago I wrote a post called Effeminacy as Evasion, about what appeared to me to be a rise in girly effeminate speech among young men. Specifically, as manifested in the phenomenon of "up-speak", in which the speaker ends sentences with a lilting rise in pitch. My big problem with the behavior was not the airheadiness of it, or even the girlishness of it. It was with the signal sent with that speech pattern: don't take me seriously; don't hold me responsible.

Well, lo and behold, a reader hath sent me an article from BBC News written last Thursday, More men speaking in girls 'dialect', study shows.
More young men in California rise in pitch at the end of their sentences when talking, new research shows. This process is known as "uptalk" or "valleygirl speak" and has in the past been associated with young females, typically from California or Australia. But now a team says that this way of speaking is becoming more frequent among men.
The thing about this article is that it rushes to qualify and defend the perpetrators of "uptalk", assuring us that though we may think they are "insecure, shallow or slightly dim", this is "not necessarily the case".

Dr. Amalia Arvanati also wants us to know that while the use of uptalk can grate, and come across as ditzy or insecure, to "native speakers", that is not the signal being sent. Well, of course not, since it's a flattening tactic. That's why Australians also use it, theirs is an extremely flat culture. No one in your group is insecure if everyone is. And no one's being effeminate if everyone is just one of the girls.

This is, after all, according to the researchers who observe and defend, girls' speech.

The weirdest bit in all this comes from Dr. Claire Nance, who told us that "Typically, women are trail-blazers in language change and take up innovative features first, then males start using them later."

That strikes me as ridiculous. I'd love to know where she gets that from. Seems to me this is an attempt to shame us into withholding our derision, since we would then be deriding women and progress, which is something up with which we ought not to put.

It would not have occurred to me to make such a universal separation, but since we're playing that game, let's talk about linguistic innovation, slang, globish, jargon, et alia. How many of them do you picture being initiated by women? At best, let us maintain a neutral silence. Unless we're embarrassed that we actually have to defend airhead speech from a feminist perspective.

It's perfectly fine to observe that language changes, and to refrain from judging from a linguistic perspective. But let us take a step back and judge from a rhetorical perspective: it's a dumb way to talk. Stop it.


  1. I know this is an old post, but it reminded me of this short piece from Taylor Mali:


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