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a rising intonation


upspeak (uptalk) = das Heben der Stimme am Ende des Satzes (was bei Fragesätzen normal ist, aber nicht an jedem Satzende)



“Employees who use “UPSPEAK”, or end most of their sentences with a higher pitch (as if they’re asking a question), put their promotions at risk by coming across as less confident than others who don’t.”

Bernhard Marr - ‘Want A Promotion? Then Don’t UpSpeak!’ – LinkedIn

“Speak with confidence. Lots of people have speech patterns that convey uncertainty. Eliminate UPSPEAK—giving the last syllable a higher inflection.”

Kathryn Rem – The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Illinois

Did you

upspeak (also uptalk)

- a way of speaking in which the voice rises at the end of a statement, making it sound like a question

- a feature of some variants of English where declarative sentences can end with a rising pitch similar to that typically found in yes-or-no questions

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary / Wikipedia


The origins of upspeaking are obscure. Anecdotal evidence places the conception of the American English variety on the West Coast – anywhere from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest.

The term “upspeak” became mainstream and entered dictionaries following a New York Times article by James Gorman in 1993.

Note: Upspeak has also been a feature of several Irish-English dialects, especially in mid-Ulster and Belfast English.


Research by Linguistics Professor Robin T. Lakoff at Berkeley shows that women upspeak more often than men. Classic female examples were Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears. Upspeak is sometimes associated with being less educated, intelligent, confident, competent, and even less attractive.

According to Lakoff, women train themselves — both voluntarily and involuntarily — to use rising intonation to protect themselves from accusations of “bossiness” and “bitchiness”. By softening a declarative sentence, upspeak allows women to meet two conflicting requirements: to provide information with confidence, but to do so in a non-imposing, non-bossy, and “lady-like” way:

Bossy people tell you how it is. Bossy people say about the project start, "Today we begin" with a falling intonation. If you want to be non-bossy you say, "Today we begin" with rising intonation, meaning, "I know we begin today, but I don’t want sound pushy about it"… in other words, ‘We begin today, if that’s OK with you’.”


UPSPEAK, uptalk, high rising intonation (HRI), high rising terminal (HRT), Australian question intonation (AQI), Californian 'Valleyspeak’

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“If you’d like to hear hilarious examples of UPSPEAK, just listen to ‘Frank Zappa, Moon Zappa - Valley Girl’ on YouTube.”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:


Paul Smith, IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40

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