Monday, 18 August 2014

Selling Uptalk -the high rising terminal our selling spiel has a long history #uptalk

When speaking to clients on the telephone or face to face the change in pitch at the end of a sentence can change  an English statement into a question.

 For some London Times readers of English this a source of irritation which they perceive to be a ‘recent  and irksome’ affection that has crept into the language over the last ten to fifteen years. The letters to editor page has seen many air their complaint.

Now, who is to blame for this ?

The Pesky Vikings !Rape, Ransack and Rising intonation !
 We have been bad mouthing the Vikings for years it seems.
“ Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race” a Northumbrian chronicler wrote as the Vikings descended on the north of the country in the ninth century .“ The heathens poured out the blood of the saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of the saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets”
Uptalk is where your voice rises as to make a declaration in such a way to imply to the listener that it might, like, be a question? -writes  Oliver Moody in the Times Aug 18th p15
Theories abound on the origins of the pitch inflection that makes statements into questions.

One theory expounded by Linguistics  Professor Daniel Hirst of Aix –Marseille University in France , comes from his observation of a strong correlation with the  areas pillaged most heavily by the longships in the 9th century.

The Liverpool accent, the Tyneside tone of the North East and the Belfast brogue are among those that have long been known for the way their voices rise at the end of a statement.

It is common in Celtic dialects for a rising intonation to be used in various constructions.

Professor Hirst points out though a crucial difference  between Viking War talk and simpering on the telephone “ When a man from Belfast tells you ‘ I am going to smash your face in’ and his voice rises, he is being assertive.”

David Crystal * says the Viking idea is one of a dozen theories. The feature has probably always been in English. It may have been Danish influence . as we hear similar things in some modern Scandinavian languages – remember the Swedish chef in the Muppets? – but there is nothing especially eastern  England about it today”

Perhaps such research by linguists is a corrective balance to arguments that the standards of English are in decline or under threat due to the patterns of youth speak.
So Uptalk is less radical than its critics suppose. 

So far from conforming to the stereotype of witlessness it denotes an appeal for others to engage the conversation. It is therefore courteous as well as fully expressive-  so Selling welcomes it ?   

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