Satiric radio commentary for the 90s from the man who drained Lake Michigan and filled it with hot chocolate!!!


Down With Uptalk

Stan Freberg here with a language update. Have you noticed a lot of young people are taking ordinary sentences and turning them into questions? "I'm off to school now? I'm really running late?" Linguisitc people have referred to this as "uptalk." Be right back. [:60 SPOT BREAK]

Freberg here. James Gorman, who teaches journalism at New York University, reports an increase in "uptalk" among his students. You know, that rising intonation at the end of sentences?

Some Irish, English and Southern dialects use "phrase final rises," as they're called, all the time. "I'll have the meatloaf" becomes "I'll have the meatloaf? And apple pie?"

And Cynthia McLemore, a University of Pennsylvania linguist, says "uptalk" is spreading among teenagers; in particular, young women, and may represent a dialect shift in America. "I met him at the mall" becomes "I met him at the mall? He was really cool?"

Dr. Gorman wondered recently how "uptalk" might sound in certain cocksure authoritative jobs like police work: "You're under arrest? I'll read you your rights?" Or surgery: "So, first, I'll open your chest?"

And thinking about this new teenage way of phrasing, which could've come from California's "Valley girl" talk, I wonder how Lincoln might've handled "uptalk": "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent, like, a new nation? Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are, like, created equal?"

That's enough "uptalk" for today.

Until next time, Stan Freberg here?


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