Is That a Question? No? Then Don’t Ask Me!

upspeak, don't talk like you're asking a question, rising inflection, annoying speech habits


Hi, my name is Jay? I want you to read this? And send me a comment about it? I worked real hard on it? And I’m super-, super-smart?

Ok — that’s enough to make my point. I hate upspeak!

Why, why, why do so many people end simple, declarative sentences as if they’re asking questions?

Don’t ask me.

It used to be most common among young women, maybe out of the Valley Girl fad of the early ’80s. But more and more, men and women of all ages — or, at least, into their 50s — use that rising inflection for no apparent reason. And it drives me crazy.

I’m not alone. There are YouTube videos and Psychology Today articles and countless memes about upspeak. (I made the one here. Cool, huh?)

It can be useful on rare occasions, maybe. To encourage comment or validation, or to jog a listener’s memory. But used more than sparingly, it has become the equivalent of “like,” “uh,” and “you know.” And it makes the speaker seem unsure of herself, which does not encourage confidence in either the speaker or the message. It’s particularly problematic for young women, who already find themselves struggling to be taken seriously.

So, everybody? Knock it off!


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