Learn to Speak English: Is “valley girl” speak crossing gender and state lines?

California has long been known as the home of Hollywood. Many struggling actors, actresses and writers from around the world  are drawn there by the potential of fame, just hoping for the one opportunity to prove themselves as a viable commodity within the entertainment industry. From a linguistic perspective, the accents and dialects found throughout California are at a young stage of development in comparison to those found across the U.S. While you learn to speak English you may come across examples of native Californian speech being depicted as casual and  filled with the qualitative word “like”. As in “So I was like, quit being weak and like, try that jalapeno sauce.” This pervasive stereotype has its roots in the 1982 Frank Zappa song “Valley Girl”, which features intermittent passages of “valley girl” speech by Zappa’s daughter Moon Unit. Another part of the stereotype that holds true for many people, implicit in the name itself, is that “valley girl” speech  is limited strictly to females and residents of California. However recent research suggests that all men are engaging in “uptalk” as it is referred to in the study, perhaps as a result of being part of a close group of friends that speak predominantly the “valley girl” accent.   Learn to Speak English


Learn to speak English: The importance of inflection and tone

Linguists at the University of California analyzed the speech of 23 native Californians between the ages of 18-22, attempting to find any similarities between people who have an uptalk speech pattern. An uptalk speech pattern is characterized by a constant subconscious upward intonation in the voice that causes statements to sound like questions. People who speak in such a manner are often labeled as dumb, insecure, and as being unable to adequately express themselves. This not the case however. Furthermore, the actual California accent is closer in tone to standard American English and is often recommended to people who want to learn to Speak English.

According to linguist Amelia Avanati, one should not be so quick to assume the valley girl accent trend started with Frank Zappa’s song. Instead those looking to discover the integral features of the accent should focus on pitch, given that the valley girl accent is similar to a pitch pattern found in English dialects. This pattern is used in situations where the speaker wants to make a firm statement on a matter while raising their voice slightly at the end of a sentence as a way of indicating to the other person they want to know their opinion as well. The study has added significance because men believe many of the stereotypes about valley girl speech listed above and are unlikely to admit they use this dialect.

Women are greater innovators of language in the sense that they usually incorporate slang and jargon from a variety of sources before men. Examples of this include the term “friending”, which is used in reference to becoming virtual friends with someone on social media. While you learn to speak English, be sure not to overlook the value of slang terms in conversation and those terms found in particular English dialects.

Learn to Speak English: Where to learn more

 This is just one of our many blog articles that help educate and help you learn to speak English If you’re interested in learning more about ways to reduce your foreign accent, you can  learn to speak English after starting with a free screening to determine the severity of your foreign accent. Within 48 hours, you will receive results regarding your foreign accent on a severity scale of 1 (very heavy) to 7 (very mild) accent. If you’re looking to learn to speak English, we have office and online starter program options! Within 12 sessions, all clients have demonstrated accent reduction of 50% or more.