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Upspeak

Strangeness abounds. No question too obscure
ReformedCharacter
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Upspeak

#174213

Postby ReformedCharacter » October 16th, 2018, 6:07 pm

Of course it's just my own personal prejudice but upspeak drives me nuts and usually makes me think that the speaker is a few pips short of the full lemon. It pains me when I hear traces of it in my children's speech. It's well described here by a slightly strange looking person -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3o0jz2ocCw

During today's PM on Radio 4 I heard the rising inflection used as a form of emphasis (during a discussion about Universal Credit, as it happens).

I'd ban it if I had my way :)

RC

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Re: Upspeak

#174437

Postby Bink333 » October 17th, 2018, 1:46 pm

Yes of course.

Not everyone is expected to be a fan of universal credit, but banning it would probably be regarded as extremely right wing, and may even cause a fair bit of wailing (is that get included within high rising terminals?) and teeth gnashing from those affected.

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Re: Upspeak

#174490

Postby bungeejumper » October 17th, 2018, 5:20 pm

I blame Kylie Minogue. I'd never heard it till Neighbours arrived on British screens, and then suddenly all the kids were doing it.

And not in the way that the guy in this video was using it. (He could look better if he lost the hangover eyes, by the way, although I doubt that there's very much he could do about his nose, which looks like he's been punched a few times too often.)

No, the kids don't say "I really like that [emphasis] hat you're [slightly rising] wearing", the way that he does.

They say "I really like [rising] that [rising again] hat you're [rising to the point of shrillness]"wear"-[hitting an anxiety crescendo now]"ing".

Followed by the unspoken "please, please like me, be my Facebook friend, my nervous breakdown is on my tail again and I'm so, soooooooo insecure".

This pathetic overtone is all quite different from that of New York upspeak, where the whiney subtext to every statement says: "are you seriously gonna argue with me, ya creep?"

The two are not to be confused. Ever. Just avoided. ;)

BJ

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Re: Upspeak

#174528

Postby DiamondEcho » October 17th, 2018, 8:27 pm

I watched a linked Youtube vid, then followed a suggested on-link to this !? This Australian mangulation of English. BTW I've previously associated up-speak with Aussies/Kiwis, but you can also find elements of it in the Californian accent IME.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3plH3n1zBA
'Pastured Egg farming Victoria Australia'

The woman up-speaks like a metronome, I could only last a minute before it was 'totally doing my head in'.

A comment on this^ video seems to identify this vocal manoeuvre as: the '"high-rising terminal" (or the Australian Question Intonation)'

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Re: Upspeak

#174541

Postby kiloran » October 17th, 2018, 9:28 pm

DiamondEcho wrote:The woman up-speaks like a metronome, I could only last a minute before it was 'totally doing my head in'.

Ye gods! I could only last 15s. What an abomination.

--kiloran

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Re: Upspeak

#174565

Postby DiamondEcho » October 17th, 2018, 10:43 pm

kiloran wrote:Ye gods! I could only last 15s. What an abomination. --kiloran


Not easy is it :lol: I have a particular interest in the geographical migration of accents/slang, so perhaps perisisted a bit longer on this as I found it fascinating, yet also quite unpleasant. A master-class that a casual observer might struggle to handle!

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Re: Upspeak

#174572

Postby Breelander » October 17th, 2018, 11:10 pm

DiamondEcho wrote:
kiloran wrote:Ye gods! I could only last 15s. What an abomination. --kiloran


Not easy is it :lol: ... A master-class that a casual observer might struggle to handle!


As a casual observer I found the first 10 seconds easy to handle....


...but then she started to speak :(

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Re: Upspeak

#174666

Postby Bink333 » October 18th, 2018, 12:18 pm

The real abomination of course is this horrendous labeling - 'upspeak' sounds like a literal translation from the German "nachoben" (I'd rather they'd called it nachoben if I'm being blunt), whilst "High rising terminal" sounds more like a residential development at an airport.

We used to refer to the modulation of intonation or pitch in the voice as an inflection, and the Australian inflection was once widely understood to refer to the use of it at the end of sentences, especially those involving a question.

Nothing wrong with it of course, until you start doing it in order to try to convey some sort of subliminal message that you're happy. If you're happy, just say, "I'm happy" and cease and desist with all the squeaky inflections.

Please.

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Re: Upspeak

#174683

Postby Lootman » October 18th, 2018, 1:37 pm

ReformedCharacter wrote:Of course it's just my own personal prejudice but upspeak drives me nuts and usually makes me think that the speaker is a few pips short of the full lemon.

There is nothing intrinsically strange about using intonation to place emphasis or shift meaning in a subtle way. At the other extreme Cantonese is predicated on such emphasis - the same word can mean many different things depending on exactly how it is spoken.

I tend to upspeak a bit myself but for what I believe to be noble reasons. For instance if you ask a question it can sound more sincere if you raise the pitch towards the end rather than just mutter it in a flat cadence. It serves to engage the other party more.

I notice people in Liverpool tend to speak that way, perhaps because of the Irish influence. And Americans do it a lot, which is probably where the trend comes from.

Where it is annoying, and I've really only noticed this with Americans, is when they answer a question with an answer in upspeak, in what appears to be an attempt to solicit your approval for their answer. So for instance if you ask an American where he is from, he might reply "Manhattan" but almost say it like a question, inviting you to comment on how impressed you are that he lives there. Perhaps it is the idea that conversation is not just to exchange data but also to bond and empathise with the other person. Language is performative.

Overall I find vocal fry to be more annoying.

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Re: Upspeak

#174700

Postby bungeejumper » October 18th, 2018, 2:40 pm

There are plenty of languages where a raised tone at the end of the sentence denotes a question. The classic French street conversation, "Ça va?" "Ça va. Ça va?" "Ça va" would mean very little without it. As would the English question, "You're angry?", where the raised tone makes the statement more than just an observation. I think, though, that proper Upspeak takes the usage a bit further, to the point where it makes the speaker sound ingratiating and, frankly, a bit weak. At least, to my ears. It drives me round the bend. If that's all right with you guys?

BJ

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Re: Upspeak

#174788

Postby DiamondEcho » October 18th, 2018, 9:38 pm

Lootman wrote:There is nothing intrinsically strange about using intonation to place emphasis or shift meaning in a subtle way. At the other extreme Cantonese is predicated on such emphasis - the same word can mean many different things depending on exactly how it is spoken.

Not just Cantonese, I understand Thai is another 'tonal language'. The tone (pitch) of a spoken word within a sentence can entirely change the meaning of the sentence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tone_(linguistics). I recall long ago reading a list of examples of the same written word simply repeated in Thai, each word spoken in the 4 core varying tones, meaning 4 entirely different things. And by entirely different, I mean extremes such as from 'watering can' to 'like' to 'aunt' :)

But then consider how English has a 'rose' as the perforated end cap on the end of the spout of a watering can, and a rose is also something one might water with it. No tone-shift; so is it simpler OR more complex? Then as a spoken/heard word we have all variants of 'rows'. In fact IIRC words that sound like rose/rows/roes etc have more individual meanings than any other 'single sounding word' in the English-English language; IIRC something like 32/+.

Lootman wrote:I tend to upspeak a bit myself but for what I believe to be noble reasons.

I find it deeply interesting how people travel and can adopt aspects of the local linguistic style. I believe it's called 'code switching' and that it is due to a desire to communicate at a deeper level with the locals. 'I'm not just a tourist, I speak quite like you too'. I can understand why it happens, which makes me curious about people who travel widely and NEVER adapt their accent at all [the late Brian Sewell/Art Historian who always spoke 100% straight Received Pronounciation IME, despite very wide travels]. For code-switchers a foreign accent takes time to subconsciously acquire, and a time to shed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code-switching I expect we've all teased someone who has just come back from Aus/US/NZ/SA/etc and has picked up 'speaking just like a native' whilst away.

Lootman wrote:Overall I find vocal fry to be more annoying.

Here is a master-class; and yes I hate it too, it just seems weird to me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Reived 8mcBdBL-t0 '1 Minute of Kim Kardashian Vocal Fry'

Howard Stern on vocal Fry [11 mins] hehe - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iyJmpxtZDE

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Re: Upspeak

#174793

Postby Lootman » October 18th, 2018, 9:49 pm

DiamondEcho wrote:
Lootman wrote:I tend to upspeak a bit myself but for what I believe to be noble reasons.

I find it deeply interesting how people travel and can adopt aspects of the local linguistic style. I believe it's called 'code switching' and that it is due to a desire to communicate at a deeper level with the locals. 'I'm not just a tourist, I speak quite like you too'. I can understand why it happens, which makes me curious about people who travel widely and NEVER adapt their accent at all [the late Brian Sewell/Art Historian who always spoke 100% straight Received Pronounciation IME, despite very wide travels]. For code-switchers a foreign accent takes time to subconsciously acquire, and a time to shed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code-switching I expect we've all teased someone who has just come back from Aus/US/NZ/SA/etc and has picked up 'speaking just like a native' whilst away.

See, this is the thing. I have spent a lot of my life with people from other cultures. My wife and her family are from a (somewhat) different culture. and what that has taught me is that the very English way of expressing oneself does not do so well past Dover.

So for instance the British tendency to be self-deprecating can be seen as weakness elsewhere. Our sense of subtlety and irony is seem as distractive. Our sarcasm is seen as just plain rude. Our modesty is an indicator of (at best) a lack of confidence and, (at worst) an indicator of incompetence. And our total lack of intonation and emotion is deemed to be disinterest.

So over the years I have modified my diction, to the point where some in England ask where I am from. But I see this trend as a healthy thing. We reject the little Englander neurosis for a broader more culturally appropriate mode of communication.

PS: I freaking love Howard Stern.

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Re: Upspeak

#174905

Postby bungeejumper » October 19th, 2018, 10:00 am

DiamondEcho wrote:which makes me curious about people who travel widely and NEVER adapt their accent at all [the late Brian Sewell/Art Historian who always spoke 100% straight Received Pronounciation IME, despite very wide travels].

IIRC, Brian Sewell grew up on a council estate where the local accent was distinctly gorblimey. His adoption of the received pronunciation code was an exercise in social distancing from his own background - as well as a professional meal ticket in a world where he might need to hobnob with Prince Charles at any moment. No wonder he never let the mask drop.

Have to say that Sewell's exaggerated preciousness would invariably drive me mad. A pity, since he did seem to have some quite interesting things to say. Medium versus message. Still, he always made a great Aunt Sally for Private Eye.

BJ

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Re: Upspeak

#175102

Postby DiamondEcho » October 19th, 2018, 9:32 pm

Lootman wrote:See, this is the thing. I have spent a lot of my life with people from other cultures. My wife and her family are from a (somewhat) different culture. and what that has taught me is that the very English way of expressing oneself does not do so well past Dover.
So for instance the British tendency to be self-deprecating can be seen as weakness elsewhere. Our sense of subtlety and irony is seem as distractive. Our sarcasm is seen as just plain rude. Our modesty is an indicator of (at best) a lack of confidence and, (at worst) an indicator of incompetence. And our total lack of intonation and emotion is deemed to be disinterest. [etc]


Yes I agree totally, and my circumstances sound quite some parallel with yours. It is true that the British 'polite' way of discourse does not travel well. My wife had to encourage me repeatedly out of it in say Singapore/Malaysia where by instinct an opening that was typically long-winded/British polite, just has people staring at you, eyes in a daze, wondering what the heck the actual question was. So out there I do the same as in US cities; 'Gimme [xyz] please'. Many locals wouldn't even add the please there but that just feels rude to me :)
Self-deprecation + subtlety are very British, we tend to convey via 'coded' under-statement which doesn't translate well. Even if a person abroad seems fluent in English, it's a mistake IME to imagine that'll get sarcasm, polite subtlety, and perhaps esp. irony. The flip-side of course being some other cultures might seem in your face and gauche.
Sarcasm and irony never translate well, because with a 'foreigner' IMO their first instinct is to take what they say at face value, plus both of those are not uniquely but certainly v British things. Unless that foreigner' has spent years living in the UK IME they just won't get it at all - so don't use it.
Intonation... IDK, surely we can't have less modulation than the Germans? :)

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Re: Upspeak

#175621

Postby XFool » October 22nd, 2018, 7:48 pm

bungeejumper wrote:IIRC, Brian Sewell grew up on a council estate where the local accent was distinctly gorblimey. His adoption of the received pronunciation code was an exercise in social distancing from his own background - as well as a professional meal ticket in a world where he might need to hobnob with Prince Charles at any moment. No wonder he never let the mask drop.

It would certainly have been an experience to have heard Brian Sewell speaking au naturel. "Gor blimey guv!..."


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