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In “They’re, LIke, Way Ahead of the LInguistic Curve,” Douglas Quenqua in the New York Times discusses how linguistics trends start with young women and make their way through the culture. It mentions the overuse of the word “like,” “uptalking” or the “high-rising terminal,” which involves ending declarative sentences on a higher note as if asking a question, and what’s called “vocal fry,” or going into the raspy lower registers.

A similar article on, like, younger people quack talking  (invoking a nasal quality that makes one sound like a duck, see also: Kenley Collins) and stuff with the kind of delightful title “What Happens in Vagueness Stays in Vagueness” basically, you know, ran in the City Journal in winter 2011.

On CNN we see the “habitual vocal fryer” Zoey Deschanel, not only frying but employing plenty of juvenile lateral eye shifts and gestures like playing with her hair that I associate with seventh grade. And Deschanel is 32! What gives? Why would someone in her thirties want to act this way?

As the site points out, younger women aren’t the only ones rasping, quacking and uptalking. Witness the older, executive women in the second video. How ironic that the video ends with the statement “Find your voice and use it.”

 

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