Main | Monday, April 03, 2006

California Speakin' On Such A Bitchin' Day

Despite that I am a former Californian, I loathe the California dialect of American English. I hate surfer/skateboarder talk, I hate Valley Girl talk, I hate the way the actors on The OC talk. It has taken me years and years to get to the point where I can say the word "dude" without raising my fingers to put ironic quotations around it.

I am particularly riled by the spreading usage of upspeaking, what linguists call the High Rising Terminal. Upspeaking used to be pretty much limited to California, but in the last decade it has spread like an ugly verbal rash across America. Upspeakers are typically teenage girls, young women and most aggravatingly, gay men. Upspeakers give every statement a rising intonation, as if every sentence were a question, thereby causing the other person to feel obliged to respond to these motherfucking non-questions, as assurance that they are indeed paying attention. My own mother calls this phenomenon "forced listening".

Queer: So I went to the maaaallll? <-- Upspeaking.

Me: Uh huh.

Queer: Because I wanted to buy a sweaaaaater?

Me: Uh huh.

Queer: And I ran into my ex, Daviiiid?

Me: That must have been awkward.

Queer: Riiiiight?

That's where I'd want to smack that queer. The current craze of using the High Rising Terminal version of the word "right" is the single most annoying speech device in American English. I'd endure all the hip-hop slang in the world, all the "dawgs", all the "ho's", all the "know whut I'm sayin's", if we could just blot out the scourge that "riiiiiigght?" has become.

UPDATE: My blogger chum Curly McDimple, she of Ham & Cheese On Wry, has just hipped me to a very recent New York Observer article on this very topic, here. Thanks, Curly!

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