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Jewish uptalk?

Corey Robin, "Was Bigger Thomas an Uptalker?" (10/18/2017), describes a bit of fictional forensic sociolinguistics: The funniest moment in Native Son (not a novel known for its comedy, I know): when the detective, Mr. Britten, is asking the housekeeper, Peggy, a bunch of questions about Bigger Thomas, to see if Thomas is in fact a […]

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When Uptalk Went Viral

This is a guest post by Cynthia McLemore, following up on Ben Zimmer's post on "'Uptalk' in the OED", 9/12/2016. Twenty three years after James Gorman coined a word for “those rises” in the New York Times and unleashed a viral phenomenon associated with my name, and on the occasion of the OED's latest entries, […]

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"Uptalk" in the OED

The latest quarterly update to the online Oxford English Dictionary includes a metalinguistic term all too familiar to Language Log readers: uptalk, defined as "a manner of speaking in which declarative sentences are uttered with rising intonation at the end, a type of intonation more typically associated with questions." It's high time that the OED created an […]

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Uptalk in Devon

"The unstoppable march of the upward inflection?", BBC News Magazine 8/11/2014, quoted me referencing Daniel Hirst's idea about a possible Scandinavian origin for the long-standing pattern of default rising intonations in northern England, Scotland, and northern Ireland. In response, Dave Goodwin sent me this interesting note about rising intonations in Devon: I am a born & bred Devonian in […]

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Media uptake on uptalk

Yesterday afternoon, UC San Diego Linguistics grad student Amanda Ritchart presented her research (joint with Amalia Arvaniti) on the use and realization of uptalk in Southern California English at the 166th Acoustical Society of America meeting. This work is profiled in the ASA's press room, and has thus far received a fair amount of attention. […]

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Okie uptalk

Several times over the past few years, I've speculated that American "uptalk", stereotypically associated with Californian "Valley Girls" in the 1980s, might in fact have originated with the characteristically rising intonational patterns of northern England, Scotland, and Ireland, by way of the Scots-Irish immigrants who migrated to California in the 1930s Dust Bowl exodus.  For […]

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Uptalk awakening

Keith "Rip van" Humphries awoke from a couple of decades of sleep and asked "This is a Declarative Statement?" (9/28/2013): I have been noticing something lately about the way many people are speaking? It seems more common among women than men, but they both do it? It involves making statements in a rising tone that […]

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Annals of uptalk: the python wrestler

A New York Times Room for Debate piece on "Killing Pythons, and Regulating Them" (3/5/2010) supplies another piece of anecdata for my on-going quest to document the North American varieties of uptalk. This one is from the sound track of a YouTube video about a python wrangler in central Florida.

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Medical uptalk

In earlier posts on the final-rising intonation patterns known as "uptalk", I've commented that "there are many conflicting assertions about its phonetic shape as well as its social distribution and its contextual function, but surprisingly few published examples that we can use to evaluate these claims", at least with respect to the North American version. […]

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Elementary-school uptalk

In previous posts on "uptalk" in America, I've noted that there there are many conflicting assertions about its phonetic shape as well as its social distribution and its contextual function, but surprisingly few published examples that we can use to evaluate these claims. So from time to time, I've documented real-world examples on this blog. […]

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Uptalk v. UNBI again

A reader from France, SW, wrote to ask some questions about English intonation: It is with great interest that I discovered your posts on ‘uptalk’ on Language Log, in which you briefly retrace the history of the study of the phenomenon. In several of these posts, you highlight the fact that the association of uptalk […]

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The phonetics of uptalk

In my post "Uptalk anxiety", 9/7/2008, I tried to comfort an American parent who was worried about a daughter's use of rising pitch accents on statements. As part of the recommended cognitive therapy, I observed that there are regional varieties of English, known as "Urban North British", in which rising pitch accents on statements are […]

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Uptalk anxiety

A few days ago, I received this poignant note from an anxious parent in Pittsburgh: I have developed a serious interest in the origination of uptalking and methods to treat it. As absurd as it may sound, my daughter is a Ph.D. and lives in another city. When she visits me, she populates most of […]

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