Friday, November 26, 2010

rising intonations: time-saver? or gender-bending?

since when did people begin using a rising intonation when talking casually, telling stories?

'so, i was at the store? and there was this crazy-looking dude over by the egg nog? and he was freaking me out, cuz one of his eyes was glowing green? . . "

i've found myself doing it occasionally. is it a replacement of the so-called 'tag question'? 'so i was in the store, right?/ya know?' if so, it seems to be a more efficient method to get the same intonation. spoken language is like water, always ready to flow toward easier, more effortless channels.

or is it an invasion by previously 'women's speech' (of some region or age group?) into general talk? if so, it is a significant breach of former gender boundaries. women, as the inferior caste, are allowed to freely borrow men's symbols of speech or dress -- but the opposite, men borrowing women's things, is highly charged with stigma. i associate it with an uncertainty common to young women. maybe that is why i still avoid it.

it is usually used in story-telling. in that context, i think it has another function: a place holder as i finish a sentence. it seems to say, 'ok, i'm not done yet, hold on, i'm telling a story.' i would love to know where

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