Date: Wed, 25 Oct 1995 08:47:06 -0400


Subject: upspeak

a lot of different things are being lumped together as "upspeak" in

this discussion--by southerners, valley girls, women generally, the

irish, scottish, australians, and in a post that beth simon just sent

me, old german american men. it also occurs to me that it's

something that kids do when they're excitedly telling a story--

upspeaking the ends of sentences until they get to the punchline

("and then the firetrucks came? and there was a firedog? and they

put the fire OUT!")

the whole phenomenon could also be linked to canadian "eh" and south

african "hey"--which are tagged onto the end of the sentence with

rising intonation. a sort of segmental version of upspeak.

but, i'm beginning to wonder--are these all the _same_ intonation

patterns? this question is pretty vague, and productively so:

- are they physically the same intonation patterns?

(and are they really the same as questions?)

- are they the same in their meanings/functions?

- are they the same in their genesis?

- is that genesis a matter of relation between the varieties

or is it a cognitive universal-type thing?

that not everyone upspeaks doesn't mean that its interpretation is

not universal, just that some (sub)cultures need it more than others.

(just like some folks smile more than others.)