The accents thread

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
i dunno

i was talking about this w/ a friend who mine who was in law school at the time and she said every girl in her classes did it...

i see/hear apparently well off corporate girls talk like this all the time... i find it a real turn off, b/c as people have said, it makes you sound DUMB and UNSURE...

"so, uh, last week? i went to a conference? In London?"

i just want to grab them and go, "DID YOU? DID YOU? FOR CHRIST SAKES, SPIT IT OUT, GIRL! TELL ME, I CAN HANDLE IT!"
Here comes my feminist spin on this thread: I think this is what happens when you have women now competing with men for the traditionally prestigious jobs and finding themselves on a more equal footing in terms of opportunity and salary and such (and actually even a little ahead of the guys) than ever before. That alone is threatening enough to many men, so a lot of smart women, who already have a hard enough time when it comes to dating by virtue of their intelligence alone, are terrified of alienating all guys and spending life alone (esp in bed).

So they dumb themselves down in whichever manner is handiest at all times--through their speech and usually their dress. The types of girls who upspeak their way through law school also tend to overpluck their eyebrows, flat iron their hair, and dress "hoochie" enough to give the impression of being much "trashier" (read: less educated, less moneyed) than they actually are. This helps a lot when you're out trying to hit up bars for one-night stands, because if you looked like a third-year law student who's attractive with good prospects and a cushiony bank account, straight men won't go touch you with a ten-foot pole.
 

swears

preppy-kei
another thing -- perhaps related -- is the trend of state-side news programs to use the question construction to express things they are too chickenshit to actually come out and say. for example, a tv news program (on, let's say, rupert murdoch's fox news) will have a headline that might read "obama soft on terrorism?" when they really mean "obama is soft of terrorism." it's as if phrasing it as a question makes it a discussion point, as opposed to a declaritive sentence expressing what they actually want viewers to believe. kind of a slimy copout.
Yeah, I've noticed this, awful. You even see this trick in print form headlines in British right-wing papers like the Daily Mail, when they have a total non-story they want to sensationalise.

"Cure For Cancer?"
"Terrorists Given Free Council Houses?"

Etc, etc...
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Yeah, I've noticed this, awful. You even see this trick in print form headlines in British right-wing papers like the Daily Mail, when they have a total non-story they want to sensationalise.

"Cure For Cancer?"
"Terrorists Given Free Council Houses?"

Etc, etc...
Also, "Anger at...", "Fury over...", "Outrage over..." - by which they ostensibly mean "People are angry at [story]", but actually mean "We are angry at [story], and you, our readers, should be too."
 

Pestario

tell your friends
I grew up in Australia so 'Australian Questioning Intonation' (AQI) or upspeak sounds completely normal to me. It takes me some effort when reading discussions like these to imagine what the POV would be to a non-upspeaker.

It's hard for me to imagine what "so, uh, last week? i went to a conference? In London?" would sound like without it seeming completely ridiculous. In my head it sounds like she's having a panic attack rather than saying something with upspeak.
 

nomadthethird

more issues than Time mag
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if5XbL2I1Ic

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That first video would be ideal fodder for a sketch show in Britain. I assume she is not a comedian?

Its interesting to hear about the Baltimore Eh-ew's sound. There was a Danny Devito film in the 80's called Tin Men. in one scene Devito asked for toast. It was probably his only concession to the Baltimore brogue but fair play to him for making the effort. It's a very strange addition to an otherwise (I assume) 'normal' accent, much like how Canadians are largely American sounding with a few curveball pronounications here and there (to my ears).

HBO's The Corner had a white character who said "stay off the dope". She sounded like she was from the rural south. Made no sense how a black person would sound urban generative Eastern city, and the whites would sound completely different.
 

reeltoreel

Well-known member
The guy who gives the talk that Zhao posted up in his Worst Mistake thread has that eh-ew thing going on in spades, if you're interested.
 

petergunn

plywood violin
HBO's The Corner had a white character who said "stay off the dope". She sounded like she was from the rural south. Made no sense how a black person would sound urban generative Eastern city, and the whites would sound completely different.
have not seen The Corner, but the charector Dennis Mello is more or less the only guy in The Wire to have a real baltimore accent...

 

petergunn

plywood violin
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love this movie! nick cage in his pink polo shirt apparently = PUNK ROCK!
 

STN

sou'wester
have not seen The Corner, but the charector Dennis Mello is more or less the only guy in The Wire to have a real baltimore accent...

He's a real Baltimore ex-cop, that's why: Jay Landesman, after whom the fat sergeant is named...

What about Snoop? I'd expect her to have one.
 

petergunn

plywood violin
He's a real Baltimore ex-cop, that's why: Jay Landesman, after whom the fat sergeant is named...

What about Snoop? I'd expect her to have one.
the classic philly/b-more accent is almost exclusively a white phenomenon...
 

viktorvaughn

Well-known member
How do accents evolve. When all the British convicts / settlers etc got sent to Oz how come it turned into what they have now?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
How do accents evolve. When all the British convicts / settlers etc got sent to Oz how come it turned into what they have now?
Maybe they just got kicked out of Britain for having annoying voices? Like making every sentence sound like a question?
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
"How do accents evolve. When all the British convicts / settlers etc got sent to Oz how come it turned into what they have now?"
Well, I was talking about this with my girlfriend and she had a hypothesis that sounded pretty good - and when we looked it up it seemed to be the prevailing view. Problem is that I can't remember how the process started but the gist of it was that once one vowel sound moves over eg the "a" sound moves from the proper way of saying it to being more like our "e" sound, then the "e" sound in turn is forced over to being more like our "i" sound and so on. So once the process has begun it's kinda logical within certain parameters.
I explained that really badly.
Also of course the accent of the original Australian settlers was the (presumably regional) English of the time and not at all the same as that we speak now so the situation is that the English we speak now and the versions spoken in Australia, the US or wherever are all evolutions from a distant point.
 

michael

Bring out the vacuum
Haha, this "upspeak" stuff is interesting. Like Pestario I come from a country where this has been commonplace for longer than I've been alive, so it's weird to hear about it from the outside or as a rising (sorry) tendency.

The types of girls who upspeak their way through law school also tend to overpluck their eyebrows, flat iron their hair, and dress "hoochie" enough to give the impression of being much "trashier" (read: less educated, less moneyed) than they actually are.
The spin I heard (while studying Linguistics here in NZ) is that it's a conversation-facilitating device, along the lines of tag questions ("isn't it? / "don't you?" etc, Canadian / NZ "eh?", London "innit?"). I guess the most negative spin on that spin is that this is still "dumbing yourself down" in the interests of facilitating conversation.

I definitely wouldn't discount plain old speech accommodation as a factor, particularly among young people - what's described upthread repeatedly where you modify how you speak based on who you're talking to. While it's interesting to look at how or where new trends originate, after a certain point just fitting in becomes a big factor.



My accent is middle class, urban, not-"Southern burr" New Zealand, I guess. So I sound like Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords. As a kid I often got asked if I'd lived in England when I met kids from smaller towns / farms.


It's interesting hearing about regional accents coming from a country that's not old or big enough to have much regional variation. Changes in technology seem to suggest that there will never be that opportunity for regional accents to develop, either... although all the research says the Kiwi accent is getting stronger and stronger, even as we use more and more American word choices.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Interesting you should mention the London/SE England "innit" - I hadn't thought of it that way before. Having said that, it's almost never said in a rising, questioning intonation; it's used more like a statement of fact. And by Bangladeshi kids more than anyone else.

Is the rising intonation used to indicate a question in other languages? I think it can do in French, from my (very limited) experience of the language. German too, that I know of. God knows about any non-European languages though. Sufi/zhao/polystyle to thread!
 

massrock

Well-known member
nomadthethird said:
The types of girls who upspeak their way through law school also tend to overpluck their eyebrows, flat iron their hair, and dress "hoochie" enough to give the impression of being much "trashier" (read: less educated, less moneyed) than they actually are.
This description made me think of.



Is that mean?
 

michael

Bring out the vacuum
Interesting you should mention the London/SE England "innit" - I hadn't thought of it that way before. Having said that, it's almost never said in a rising, questioning intonation; it's used more like a statement of fact. And by Bangladeshi kids more than anyone else.
Ah right... I was last in London 10 years ago, and remember people using "innit" and "yeah" a fair amount.

I'd find it hard to work through exactly why, but it still makes sense to me that tag questions are used to invite a response, regardless of intonation... and that in the absence of a tag a rising intonation serves the same purpose. May read as a bit contradictory, but I don't think it is. Different means to the same end.

And just to clarify, I'm definitely not saying that constant rising intonation serves one purpose. I'm thinking more in the situation of telling stories or providing information, which I guess is what we're all talking about... eh? ;)

It does drive me nuts, I have to admit. Certainly not held in prestige in formal settings, etc.

Is the rising intonation used to indicate a question in other languages? I think it can do in French, from my (very limited) experience of the language. German too, that I know of. God knows about any non-European languages though. Sufi/zhao/polystyle to thread!
I've learnt some Japanese and it definitely has that tone. Same as English, in everyday conversation you get lots of short questions with no grammar marking whether it's question or statement.

"Really?"
"Hungry?"
"3 o'clock?"
"Goth-Trad?"
"In Kichijoji?"
etc.
 
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