Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog


I received this comment last week: “I was just listening to a cellphone product review on the CNET website, and the speaker, a guy in his early 30’s, ended every statement about the phones features with “up-talk”. I find this speech habit to be extremely annoying. In general i thought it was indicative of younger speakers, but they seem to be getting older and older – i guess i am too for that matter. I guess that once everyone my age is dead, everyone will be doing it and nobody will be annoyed, know what I’m saying?”

I see no reason to be upset by “uptalk”: it has been around since before the states were united. It is the common intonational means of indicating the end of a clause in Irish English.  All English speakers from Ireland and other parts north of England use this intonational marker—some parts of Scotland, too. 

It is more common in the south of the US because dialects there tend to be more conservative, preserving various aspects that settlers brought with them from the old country.

But it is nothing to be offended at. Different languages and different dialects have different means of intonationally marking clauses, sentences, and questions.  This one has been around for centuries—at least.

One Response to “Uptalk”

  1. Colin Burt Says:

    Also a very common habit in rural Queensland in Australia. Finalised with a rhetorical ‘eh?’ regardless whether the re was a question involved or not. “Bloody hot for the time of year, eh?” is a question but “you’re not welcome here mate and it’s time someone told you so, eh” is not really inviting an answer. In both cases , West of the dividing range, the last two words reach up towards falsetto.

Leave a Reply