Only Girls Talk Like They're From the Valley? As If
Clueless, Paramount Pictures.
American pop culture has its fair share of Valley girls: the Heathers in Heathers, Clueless' Cher and Dionne, and Daria's younger sister, Quinn, along with all her Fashion Club members, to name a few. But this SoCal stereotype is about to get a serious facelift thanks to a team of researchers at UC-San Diego.
Valleyspeak, also known as "uptalk," "high-rising intonation," or "SoCal English," has acquired some rather inaccurate connotations over the years, starting with the gender bias. According to UCSD researchers, uptalk is neither exclusive to women nor confined to Southern California.
In a linguistic study of 23 Southern Californian residents including men and women ages 18 to 22, researchers asked subjects to describe sitcoms and give directions. While women definitely used uptalk more than men, the project found that this style of speaking was still prevalent across both sexes.
Additionally, researchers from this projects as well others noticed that this particular style of inflection actually served a variety of colloquial purposes including establishing social hierarchy, verifying that others are listening, and preventing others from interrupting while the speaker is still talking (because, rude).
The New York Times, which originally featured the study, suggests that ultimately the negative Valley girl connotation will die out, as the style of speaking becomes more widespread and because younger folks have an easier time embracing it.
So basically what they're saying is: You better brush up on your West Coast accent and get used to it because this is pretty much how all of your grandchildren will speak, k?