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up- +‎ talk.



uptalk (uncountable)

  1. (linguistics) Speech that has a rising intonation at the end of a sentence, as if it were a question; upspeak.
    • 1993, The New York Times Magazine, New York, N.Y.: The New York Times, ISSN 0028-7822, OCLC 671821214, page 248:
      The sorority members' own interpretation of uptalk was that it was a way of being inclusive.
    • 2013, Mary Ellen Guffey; Dana Loewy, “Professionalism at Work: Business Ethiquette, Ethics, Teamwork, and Meetings”, in Essentials of Business Communication, 9th edition, Mason, Oh.: South-Western, Cengage Learning, →ISBN, page 336:
      Once used exclusively by teenagers, uptalk is increasingly found in the workplace with negative results. When statements sound like questions, speakers seem weak and tentative. [] On the job, managers afflicted by uptalk may have difficulty convincing staff members to follow directions because their voice inflection implies that other valid options are possible.
    • 2016, Paul Warren, “Introduction – Why ‘Uptalk’?”, in Uptalk: The Phenomenon of Rising Intonation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 2:
      As a working definition, uptalk is taken in this book to be a marked rising intonation pattern found at the ends of intonation units realised on declarative utterances, and which serves primarily to check comprehension or to seek feedback. This definition provides a lot of leeway, but at the same time constrains the possible scope of uptalk. The leeway is necessary because, as we will see in later discussion, the shape of uptalk is variable and quite possibly differs from one variety of English to another.


uptalk (third-person singular simple present uptalks, present participle uptalking, simple past and past participle uptalked)

  1. (linguistics, intransitive) To speak with a rising intonation at the end of a sentence, as if it were a question; to upspeak.
    • 2004, Amy Sohn, My Old Man: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 265:
      I asked the girl what she wanted. "Um, an apple martini?" she uptalked. / "I can do one," I said, "but you'll regret it." Our apple juice was disgusting and the apples we kept in stock weren't even the right kind.
    • 2008, Lauren Myracle, Thirteen, New York, N.Y.: Dutton Children's Books, →ISBN:
      I drove my sneaker into her shin. "Our assignment was to pretend we were at a sporting event? Okay?" / "She uptalks when she's nervous," Cinnamon said to Lars. He chuckled, but her comment made me mad. And embarrassed. / "I'm not nervous," I said.
    • 2015, Rachel McKinnon, The Norms of Assertion: Truth, Lies, and Warrant (Palgrave Innovations in Philosophy), Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, →ISBN:
      It's worth noting, too, that typical interpretation of uptalking – that the speaker is indicating doubt about their assertion – is inaccurate. While this is one function of uptalking, when performed by someone with less discursive power towards someone with more discursive power, uptalking also functions to let the hearer know that the speaker would like the hearer's input. This is what happens when speakers with more discursive power uptalk to hearers with less discursive power.
    • 2016, Paul Warren, “Credibility Killer and Conversational Anthrax: Uptalk in the Media”, in Uptalk: The Phenomenon of Rising Intonation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 145:
      Citing analyses of uptalk and proposals concerning its origins, he hopes that looking at the evidence for how uptalk is actually used 'will help you make linguistic peace with your uptalking daughter and her professional friends'.


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