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Valleyspeak or Valspeak is an American sociolect, originally of the San Fernando Valley in Southern California. It is associated with young, upper-class white women (called Valley girls), although elements of it have spread to other demographics, including men. This sociolect, which most likely originated in the 1970s, became an international fad for a certain period in the 1980s and 1990s. Many phrases and elements of Valleyspeak, along with surfer slang and skateboarding slang, have become stable elements of the California English dialect lexicon, and in some cases wider American English (such as the widespread use of "like" as a discourse marker).
The term "Valley Girl" and the Valley manner of speech was given a wider circulation with the release of a hit 1982 single by Frank Zappa entitled "Valley Girl", on which Moon Zappa, Frank's then fourteen-year-old daughter, delivered a monologue in "Valleyspeak" behind the music. This song popularized phrases such as "grody to the max" and "gag me with a spoon".
An early appearance of Valleyspeak and the Valley Girl stereotype was through the character of Jennifer DiNuccio, played by Tracy Nelson in the 1982–83 sitcom Square Pegs. According to an interview with Nelson included on the 2008 DVD release of the series, she developed the character's Valleyspeak and personality prior to the Zappa recording becoming popular.
- High rising terminal (also called "up speak" or "uptalk") is a defining feature of Valleyspeak. Statements have a rising intonation, causing declarative language to appear interrogative to listeners unfamiliar with the dialect. Research on uptalk has found a number of pragmatic uses, including confirming that the interlocutor follows what is being said and indicating that the speaker has more to say and so their conversation partner should not interrupt them (also called "floor holding"). The high rising terminal feature has been adopted by speakers beyond the traditional users of Valleyspeak, including men and New Zealanders.
- "Like" as a discourse marker. "Like" is used as a filler word, similar to "um" or "er," as in, "I'm, like, about to call my friend." It does not add content to the sentence, instead allowing time for the speaker to formulate what they will say next.
- "Like" as a colloquial quotative. "Like" is used to indicate that what follows is not necessarily an exact quotation of what was said, but captures the meaning and intention of the quoted speech. As an example, in "And I was like, 'don't ever speak to my boyfriend again,'" the speaker is indicating that they may or may not have literally said those words, but they conveyed that idea.
- Filler (linguistics)
- Jive filter, a novelty program that translates English into parody forms
- Like (discourse particle)
- Clueless, a 1995 film that prominently features Valleyspeak
- Pink Five, a Star Wars parody fanfilm about a Valley girl character
- Gap Girls & The Californians – Saturday Night Live sketches, prominently featuring Valleyspeak phrases.
- Sexy baby voice
- Vocal fry register
- Hogenboom, Melissa (2013-12-06). "More men speaking in girls' 'dialect', study shows". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
- "Weemawee Yearbook Memories: Tracy Nelson and Claudette Wells", a featurette on the DVD release Square Pegs: The Like, Totally Complete Series ... Totally (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2008).
- Hoffman, Jan (2013-12-23). "Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak". Well. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
- "Is Valley Girl Speak, Like, on the Rise?". 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
- "Valley Girl Talk". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
- Origins of Valspeak, YouTube video with Tracy Nelson from Square Pegs DVD commentary.
- cs.utexas.edu: "Valspeak" text translator
- Lotozo, Eils (September 4, 2002). "The way teens talk, like, serves a purpose". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Citing Siegel, Muffy E. A. (2002). "Like: The Discourse Particle and Semantics". Journal of Semantics. 19 (1): 35–71. doi:10.1093/jos/19.1.35.
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