Young Women: Our Linguistic Pioneers?
Their speech patterns set trends the rest of us follow, say experts
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Feb 28, 2012 4:08 PM CST
Young women tend to drive linguistic trends.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Girls often get mocked for their uptalking—ending sentences at a higher pitch—or frequent use of "like." But it's time to give them credit for leading the way when it comes to language patterns, linguists tell the New York Times. "If women do something like uptalk or vocal fry," a Britney-esque growl at the end of a sentence, "it’s immediately interpreted as insecure, emotional or even stupid," says a linguistics professor.

"The truth is this: Young women take linguistic features and use them as power tools for building relationships." Indeed, young people tend to pick up on such trends first, "and women tend to be maybe half a generation ahead of males on average," says another expert. Researchers aren't sure why it is that women pioneer such patterns: Perhaps it's because of their social awareness or a means of exerting power. Regardless, some of the trends stick: "Like" used "apparently without meaning or syntactic function" has been acknowledged in Webster's.

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Showing 3 of 40 comments
shaboom
Feb 29, 2012 7:54 PM CST
Everything they have to teach us will come in very handy should I ever have the need to talk for 120 hours a week about boys, shoes and nail polish.
williambaranowski
Feb 29, 2012 10:11 AM CST
As if.
793tango
Feb 29, 2012 5:35 AM CST
We had a girl in our office who talked like that and it drove me friggin crazy! The girl ( with a 4 year degree no less) couldn't put a sentance together without adding 'Ummm, like, you know and whatever' every two or three words, or sometimes all strung together between words. She transferred out a week ago and her replacement is someone I don't really like but at least she can put together a coherent sentence.