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Final rises

As Eric Baković recently noted, there's been a lot of buzz about a presentation about "uptalk" by Amanda Ritchart and Amalia Arvaniti at the 2013 Acoustical Society meeting. All we have so far is a sort of press release  ("Do We All Speak Like Valley Girls? Uptalk in Southern Californian English", ASA Lay Language Papers, 12/5/2013), but […]

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"Sexy baby vocal virus"

For the past few weeks, Lake Bell has been working hard to promote her new  movie In a World… NPR set the stage this way ("'In A World …' Is A Comedy About, You Guessed It, Voice-Over Artists", NPR All Things Considered 7/26/2013): Lake Bell has acted in the movies It's Complicated, What Happens in Vegas […]

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Three-syllable Mom

Today's Cathy:

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Richard Powers on his way to a decision

A few days ago, Kurt Andersen interviewed the novelist Richard Powers on Studio360. You can listen to the whole nine-minute interview here. In the middle of the interview, Powers breaks into a sequence of declarative phrases with final rising pitch — what's sometimes called "uptalk". Before and after this sequence, which sets the stage for […]

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Roll over Joyce Cary

… and tell Lady Gregory the news. According to David Adams, writing in the Irish Times,  "Attacks on the language are rising, basically": IT’S OFTEN the little things in life that can get to you. Take “basically”, for instance. I cannot be alone in having grown to detest the very sound of this word. It […]

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I again

Last month, it was Barack Obama whose (allegedly) imperial ego was said to be signaled by (fictitious) overuse of first-person singular pronouns. (Follow the link for discussion of columns on the topic by Terence Jeffrey, George F. Will, Stanley Fish, and Mary Kate Cary.) A few days ago, Peggy Noonan's devastating attack on Sarah Palin […]

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Conferenece of dunces

From a conference on the theme "Building the New Majority", sponsored by Pat Buchanan's organization The American Cause, and featuring a panel discussion on English-only initiatives:

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The American compound rise?

Yesterday, in answering a question from a reader, I glanced over the section on intonation in the 1877 edition of Henry Sweet's "A Handbook of Phonetics". I found what I was looking for, namely the section where Sweet distinguishes three "primary 'forms' or 'inflections' of tones" in the intonation of English — level, rising, and […]

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