Speech patterns prove influential

Molly Brown


The stereotypical imitation of a teenage girl’s speech, an up-talked sentence with an added poor imitation of Mae West and punctuated with several “like’s,” is a pandemic across college campuses.  These vocal devices are popular and are infiltrating the speech patterns of everyone who comes into contact with affected individuals. It has been recently examined in “The New York Times” as an example of women pioneering cultural norms, but I believe that young women are not the culprits of furthering these rather unfortunate linguistic trends. 

In my own experiences, and I’m no Henry Higgins, I’ve heard just as many guys punctuate every prepositional phrase with a “like”—or four—as girls. The same goes with up-talking, the phenomenon in which a statement ends like this? All the time? This trend is not something driven by young women because they are looking for an outlet to express themselves. People and communication evolve together and are interdependent on one another. If someone hears a way of turning a phrase or perhaps has moved to a different regional area and is surrounded by that regional accent, he or she will mimic and implement the speech patterns from the environment into his or her own. This is why it is ridiculous that people see the above linguistic trends as solely a female device.

Occasionally, the up-talking happens, but when it is a deliberate choice by individuals to speak in this matter to try and fit in, these speech patterns become problems. A huge problem, both for listeners and the speaker’s vocal health, is the idea of adding vocal fry constantly in their speech. A vocal fry, the sort of growling, not quite that of Barbara Stanwyck’s, but rather an intentional upward intonation that forces the vocal cords to peak at the fundamental point at which one’s voice begins to crack, is considered normal. The Kardashian reality television empire has only furthered this assumption of speech patterns. When speaking this way for a prolonged period of time, an individual will harm his or her vocal chords by placing them under so much friction day after day. The worst part about the habit is the fact that it has become so ingrained within the national speech pattern that fewer people realize they use it themselves.

In terms of speech, females are no more to blame than males for projecting their vocalisms into the vernacular.  Rather, the use of these patterns is a natural part of language, not solely in the hands of one sex. Vocalisms and language will continue to evolve as long as people continue to use them, so if the vocal growls and up-talk annoy you as much as the next person, don’t use them yourself?

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