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John Leblanc

You have very accurately described this most annoying, and growing verbal abomination. I find it increasingly more difficult to have to listen and take seriously women who talk this way. To me, its just another indication of the growing infantalization of the American female. Keep up the good work!

Marcie Judelson

Thanks, John! It's good to know I am not the only one who is, like, superrrr annoyed with this trend. And I often wonder how men can stand it.

Ethan

Thank you so much for this, I'm a historian and Mad Men addict but the way almost ALL of the women on the show speak is completely AHISTORICAL (not to mention intensely irritating). Growing up on the East Coast in the 1970s and 80s, there was a lot of variety in accents and dialects according to region and social class, but NO ONE talked like this. Mad Men is set in New York in the 1960s, but the women on the show in particular, with only one or two exceptions, all speak the homogenous Southern Californian dialect that has taken over the English-speaking world since the 1990s (the actress who plays Megan is, in real life, really from Montreal--but nowadays it doesn't matter anymore where you're from. This homogenization of speech is indeed of the most profound social changes of the least 3 decades or so). How indeed could this have escaped the show's otherwise historically conscious and responsible producers? After all it shouldn't have been that hard to think of it--don't they remember how their parents talked?
But what amazes me even more is how so few VIEWERS seems to notice or care. Yours is about the only blog that I could find that even raises the issue. What's up with that?

Marcie Judelson

Ethan,

Thanks for the comment (and sorry for the late reply). Good to know I'm not the only one who is infuriated by the Valley Girl dialect on "Mad Men". They get this aspect of the show completely wrong. Not only does Megan have "The Voice" (in spite of being from Montreal), I've also noticed that even Don Draper's young daughter, Sally (?), speaks with "The Voice". There is no escaping it.

I'm not sure why other viewers aren't annoyed about this, but I'm guessing it's because they also speak this way, so it sounds completely normal to them. And very few of them even remember the Sixties.

I dunno...it's a mystery to me.

Jeff Royster

I hear it everywhere with women of all races now and political affiliations: Michelle Malkin and Sarah Pallin have their vocal versions. It's as if they feel they have to cushion what they are saying with "Pillowy Vocal cushioning" so as to still retain some uber-feminity! (You know just in case anyone is offended or holds these women accountable for their words.) My two faves or horrids in "The Voice" are Krystal Ball and Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis from "DC Cupcakes. These are two sisters, educated and professional. Now granted they are attractive and spunky seeming. They upsell their baby style and girlish speechifying to unreal levels. You would think they were 11 and 12 years old respectively. And Krystal Ball, man! How is this woman-tween not on Entertainment tonite or some BRAVO fashion show!!! Virtually every word is laced with cutesy, reassurance, pluck and vive of sharing coquettishnesses with a BFF or alluring hottie!-Yuck!! I hope some day these young women will allow their speech to age and flourish to something more grounded and substantial. One can only hope.

Marcie Judelson

Yes, hope springs eternal. So glad I'm not the only one who is driven to distraction by these baby-talking women. Thanks for reading and empathizing!

Sarah R

Tell me about it. I teach classes at a univerity in North America and "the Voice" drives me to distraction. I grew up in the UK and I always thought it was just me who hated it.

I think it makes me especially irritated because I'm only in my mid twenties and someohow _I_ manage to avoid speaking like this. Also because these girls are supposed to be educated adults and it makes them look like fools.

Though for those rallying against women talking this way, young men are hardly a model of perect speech. See the half swallowed tones of "yeah cool bra" speech pattern for example ;-)

D_Col

I purposefully look online for old film footage of everyday people (pre- '90s) to hear 'normal' speak (it actually relaxes me). I am beyond annoyed every time I turn on the television, you can't escape "The Voice" (that's what I call it too, BTW). It's everywhere! Just the other day I was watching a show where a woman in her mid twenties was having a conversation with a thirteen year old. I expected the woman in her mid twenties to have "The Voice" (not surprised there). But I was aghast when the thirteen year old opened her mouth, she sounded like a three year old! If I had the time and money, I would do a project collecting film footage from decades past (of every day people, not actors), and 'edit in' footage of recent decades with everyday people talking, for mere comparison. I would make such a stink about this in the hopes that those with "The Voice" will notice just how annoying and immature they really sound.

Sephiroth_FF

Everything you said rings true (although reading all those horrible "likes" and "seriouslys" has really done my head in).

I'm 25 and I'm from Australia. I watch a lot of American TV so I'm unfortunately exposed to this horrible phenomenon. You think being from Australia without watching ANY modern American TV would save me from this hell but it doesn't. You'd be surprised to learn that a lot of Australians seem to speak Valspeak! It is really...unbearable. Everytime I walk by a pack of girls, all I hear is...well, exactly what you said (I'm sorry, I can't type it out because it's too sickening). Australians no longer have their own culture. We USED to and not that long ago but American culture has taken over Australia. You can't walk a few feet without hearing "like" and "awesome". Even my most dreaded so-called "new annoying word" "Seriously" is starting to creep in.

The thing is I like American culture or at least I used to. I like the way that Americans do everything big. It's a much more exciting country than Australia But the infiltration of this Valspeak has infected everything I used to love about it.

My mum and I are always discussing the ways females talk these days and how they never used to. I keep telling her that people used to be parts of separate groups. You had Valley Girls, nerds, surfies, etc. But the problem is, everyone is mixed these days. Nerds would never have spoken like this 20 years ago. The nerds use Valspeak! Talk about ironic since Valley Girls would be considered popular girls and nerds obviously are not.

I'm so glad that I don't feel alone in this. Most people see this as a normal speech pattern but I don't. I see supposedly smart, brainy girls speaking like this. Perhaps they are smart but like someone said, you just can't take them seriously when they sound like a 5-year old.

And Mad Men...one of my biggest gripes. I'm always telling my mum that despite this show being set in the 60's, all the women on the show speak like "that". And she said to me "I bet no one even notices this". And it's true. Very few people would. These people must think that women have always spoken like this. The producers never tell them "They didn't talk like that in the 60's. Alter your voice". But there is one actress who I think actually tries...Allison Brie. If you've ever watched Community, you'll know very well that she uses Valspeak. But in Mad Men, she sounds very different and I get the impression that she's at least trying to cover up her whiny voice. The other gripe I have about Mad Men is the use of slang, which is also related to Valspeak. One time, Peggy came in the room and said "Really, this again?" The way "really" is used these days sickens me but even worse is when Don told Megan something, and it was the truth, he obviously wasn't joking and her response was "Seriously?" They did not used the perfectly normal English word in this way in the 60's. They didn't even use it in the 90's! This is a recent phenomenon! And I despise it.

So many period shows and games claim to pay attention to detail (the 1940's set game LA Noire constantly uses the abbreviation "vic" for the word "victim", which has only been abbreviated over the past few years) but obviously speech is not included. Several times I've heard the words "awesome", "seriously" and "really" in American Horror Story but this wasn't during the normal portions of the show. This was during the flashbacks (so pre-1980).

I have to agree with what Sarah R said. I'm only 25 and I've grown up hearing some girls speaking like that (who were then Valley Girls) but this disease seems to have really come into effect for most of the American and Canadian female population over the last ten years so there was still a chance that we both could've ended up sounding like that. But we didn't and we're lucky. I suppose if we were Americans, there'd be more of a chance that it could happen.

This used to be a way of speaking for a certain type of girl but now girls are born into this way of speaking like it's an actual dialect.

Maybe it's because I despise so much about the world today and all the stupid little trends that keep popping up but I don't want to be like everyone else. Everyone I see a female on TV, I say to myself "She's going to talk like that". Once she opens her mouth, she talks like that.

I think considering these actors are paid, they should undertake voice lessons to learn to speak properly. Do they not realize that they sound abnormal? Do the producers actually like the way they sound? We need to get this off of TV. If females didn't speak like this on TV, chances are the rest of the female population wouldn't either.

I hope everyone will spread this blog around because more people need to wake up and say "I must be really irritating to listen to" and change they way they speak. We can no longer have a world of air-heads.

Marcie Judelson

Wow. First, thank you for reading. Second, thank you for such an interesting response.

I am surprised and saddened to hear that Valspeak has infiltrated Australia (been there once, in the early 90s, and certainly never heard a hint of a Valley Girl accent anywhere).

I am also frankly encouraged that a young person like yourself would even notice this trend, let alone be as annoyed by it as I am.

It gives me hope that maybe there is a chance, albeit a slim one, of making this manner of speech unpopular.

In the meantime, I guess we just have to keep cringing every time we hear it.

And please, by all means, share this post with as many people as you can. We need to get the Anti-Valspeak Movement going globally.
Like, NOW!


Sephiroth_FF

It really is a recent thing. I finished high school in 2005 and I never heard Valspeak anywhere. But after I left, it seems like it just popped up out of nowhere. America has always had a big influence on Australia culture (although the idea of good food and big sizes, something Australia would have benefited from, doesn't seem to have made an impact) but not so much as it has over the past few years. It's affected Australian culture so much so that there's barely a hint of Australian culture left. Surprisingly, it seems to have had little impact over in England.

I find it kind of amazing that the majority of people don't even notice what's happening to the world. What about all the people who grew up in the 60's and 70's? Do they not notice that women have become especially annoying lately?

Although Valspeak seems to affect more girls and young women than older women, I still have heard women over forty speak like this. And it's not only the tone of their voices, their facial expressions and the constant need to express themselves by moving their heads, it's also slang. Valspeak brought with it slang that only a certain type of people would use. Surfies came up with the slang version of "awesome" in the early 80's but I never heard it so much in the 90's as I do today. It's used for EVERYTHING and I definitely consider it a part of Valspeak. Perfectly normal words like "so", "totally" and "like" are also supposed to be part of Valspeak yet I hear practically everyone using them in the slang way now. Don't they know how stupid they sound? Or do they think they sound good? I've always wondered that.

Like I said in my earlier post, everyone is meshed together these days. There's no individuality of any kind. Perhaps that's why I escaped it and actually noticed what's happening to people. I've always resented being like everyone else.

There are no barriers when it comes to Valspeak. Whether they have the Valley Girl "dialect", whether they use Valspeak slang, males and females of any age seem to be caught up in this trend.

With young people, you sometimes kind of expect them to be immature and get caught up in trends but when this trend is affecting adults over 40, you know something's very wrong. Actors I've watched for a long time have suddenly turned into ditzy air-heads. And I don't necessarily mean just females. I'm talking about actors such as John Travolta and David Boreanaz. They say "awesome" and "seriously" so many times it makes my heard spin. I guess they don't think they sound stupid. Or they're just trying to act younger.

Marcie Judelson

Oh, I hear you. I've had it with "awesome" and "seriously". And how about "amazing"?
(check out my previous post, "It's Like, So Amazing".

Great comments. I think you need a blog of your own.

Sephiroth_FF

Haha, you think? I can just imagine the comments I'd get.

I've come across a few articles such as the most overused words of the year and often find "Amazing" on it but I actually don't hear it used in the slang sense that much. I hear "douchebag" a whole lot more. Now don't get me started on that one!

Barbara Heick

Thank you so much for writing about this. I did grow up in the 70's and thought that this type of speech irritated me just because I am a cranky oldish woman. The people who talk like this make me want to scream! I know it's their generations culture; but upspeak sounds to me like they are unsure of EVERYTHING they are saying. I have also heard that argument that they are trying to be polite in case someone disagrees with their viewpoint. You know what? Being able to express your viewpoint without ticking people off is part of being an adult! You don't have to try to please everyone; but if you try to in this manner people are not going to take you seriously because you sound like you don't know what you are talking about. And using the word "like" every few words just sounds as dumb as "uuuummmm" (the bane of my generation). I know a lot of people say that it is just females doing this; but lately I have noticed a lot of young men in their 20's speaking this way too. Please I BEG of you; think about this! Would you really want your doctor to someday say to you "You like have cancer? You like might have like a chance to like live? Here's what I like think you should do?" I don't know about you but I don't like think I would like really be like reassured!

Marcie Judelson

Thanks for the comment, Barbara.

Last night, I was seated next to two young women at a sushi bar. I tried to count every time they said, "like". But it was impossible, because every other word they said was "like"!

As I've said before, I am also guilty of saying "like" way too often. It has crept into my speech over time. I have to make a conscious effort not to say it.

Your point about the doctor is well taken.
Would love to see that scenario played out in a sketch. But would it even sink in?
I doubt it.

Kati

Several of my female neighbors speak in this manner and it drives me crazy. These women are not in their 20s or 30s, but 40s-50s and seem to be imitating their tween and teenage children. From the rather disturbing use of "Omigawd" that starts their sentences to the constant peppering of "like" between their words, it's rather annoying trying to have a decent conversation with them. I'm 29 and I speak with more conviction and thus probably appear to be more sophisticated to the average observer. This is not merely a young person's issue, but one that affects women and even some men into their 40s and beyond.

A sample (and yes, I've been tempted to count all the "likes" and tell them how many they average per sentence, but so far I haven't): "Omigawd, like, the other, like, day, I was outside, and, like, I saw a huge spider, like, it was HUGE? And I said, omigawd! And, like, so GROSS! Like, wow. Just wow. I wanted to, like, scream? It was ugly and I hate spiderrrrs! Just sayin'"

Dulcinea

I think John Leblanc hit the nail on the head, and we are indeed witnessing the infantalization of the American female. I have a son, 11, and a daughter, 9, and while I worry that they are learning intolerance from me, I just can't help it. The minute we're confronted by "the affectation," my husband and I obnoxiously mimic it. While I hope an appreciation for the silliness of that voice is sinking in, I fear that my daughter is starting to exhibit some disturbing speech patterns. I tell you, it's like the Borg!

I am a court reporter, and it both astounds and saddens me to see that 99% of the female attorneys I deal with speak this way. Day-in, day-out, I am forced to listen to these people intently and write their every word. I must say, though, that in the legal world, the uptalk isn't as prevalent as the vocal fry. I guess that's their way of sounding assertive. Oh, brother.

Marcie Judelson

Kati and Dulcinea -- I, like, soooo agree with you both! The only time I allow myself to laugh at Valspeak (vs cringe) is when I listen to the Shoshanna character on "Girls".
I assume (hope, pray) that her exaggerated Uptalking is meant as a parody. At least I hope so.

Is this awful trend everrrr going to stop?

We are doomed.

John Caruso

Yes, yes, yes. I've been thinking about this for some time now--the fact that Valley Girl-speak, once a derided regional dialect, has not only continued but flourished beyond all imagining, and now dominates the entire verbal landscape for young American women. And it's not just the dialect (as you say): it's the snottiness, the sense of entitlement, etc etc. I also live in San Francisco, but when I go to rural western New York to visit my family, in a town with a few thousand people, guess how all the young girls there talk (and act)? Yes indeed.

Here's a mindblower for you: I watched Valley Girl a few weeks ago for the first time in my life (managed to miss it in the 80s). And there is far less Valspeak in Valley Girl than there now is in nearly every encounter with any American female under the age of 27. It's not even close.

If I can go all sociological on you, I think this is just one symptom of a deeper societal rot. Look at television shows like Top Model that apotheosize the absolute worst in human behavior. The problem is that young women now *aspire* to that, rather than seeing it as the blight on the human spirit that it is. And it's not just them; we're all being sold a lifestyle like this that tells us to elevate ourselves above all else, every day and in countless ways, but it just so happens that the variant of that lifestyle that's being sold to young women happens to come with its own lingua franca. (And along those same lines, US cultural dominance worldwide likely explains why the selling of that lifestyle has started to permeate other countries as well--which I find as horrifying as you do.)

It's nice to hear a voice of reason, and others chiming in. Thanks for taking the time to write this up so well and so thoroughly.

Marcie Judelson

Hi John - I am glad you went all sociological on me, because I couldn't agree more! If our current pop culture is any indication, young women today have definitely not come a long way, baby...instead, they have regressed beyond comprehension. It makes me want to write a follow-up to this post.
Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting.
I appreciate it.

Dan E

It's the most awful, disturbing, irritating, baby-talk manner of speaking going on. It sounds so dumb. I'd never hire a girl (or guy) that spoke like this no matter how smart they may seem otherwise. Jerks.
I don't know what we can do to stop it other than to not hire it. That should keep it off of TV, courts, emergency rooms and other places where the public has to listen to this speech impediment.

ElsyLuvsJersey

Great piece! But, I have noticed this Creaky Craze goes beyond American young women. Men do it too. And the trendier the clothes, the creakier the voice. I also notice women well vinto their 50s talk like this. Also, there is a facial expression that goes with the voice. (Kind of like, "eeww"!) Something like that! There is Brit creaky voice, Aussie creaky voice, Indian, Southerner, and so on. The most amusing example was a young nun or novice speaking to a reporter in creaky voice! But, she was adorable!

K$

I went to another country for a year to study abroad and for a long time was completely isolated from girlygirlz. After two years of isolation from that crowd, I was sitting on a bus to a graduation event, and was listening to the girls around me chatter. It began to dawn on me that this accent is both bizarre and flat-out annoying. I also realized how odd it is that it is has only affected women. No one sounds remotely intelligent speaking like this. I have tried hard to rid myself of this dialect, and will try to spread the word to other girls to CHECK THEMSELVES.

Marcie Judelson

Thanks for helping to spread the word!
We, like, sooo need your help and support.

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