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48019Re: [Czechlist] person gets her, was "Call us on"

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  • James Kirchner
    Dec 29, 2011
      It's because in my experience there are certain speech habits that are more commonly or even exclusively picked up by girls and women.

      For example, the style of speech called "Valley Girl" in the 1980s was exclusively a female phenomenon, and it was young women who came into the adult workplace after university having to lose it. (There was a style at the time that was not quite "Valley Girl" that I used to call "a Canadian sucking on a piece of hard candy" that young women similarly had to eradicate to be taken seriously at work.)

      I remember once hearing a TV news report on some grave event that was reported by a very rare reporter who hadn't lost her "Valley" speech, and it was shocking, because it gave the overall impression that she wasn't taking the event seriously, even though she was. You could see that the anchor people in the studio had picked up on the problem also.

      A current speech phenomenon among young American women is what some phonologists call "creaky voice". It's exactly what the term sounds like it means, and it's an actual standard part of the phonology of languages, like Hmong. In its current American form it makes the woman sound (to me) like a purring actress in a 1950s film trying to entice a man into bed. You can hear that style of "creaky voice" in this video:
      You won't find any young men talking like that. Girls like the one in the video will probably have to lose that if they get serious jobs.

      It's well known by speech coaches and angry feminists that the phenomenon of raising one's voice an octave and raising the pitch at the end of sentences to sound conciliatory, along with actually phrasing statements as questions, is mainly a problem of women. I have personally, at various corporations, taught women to stop talking that way (speak at their normal pitch and frame statements as statements) when people were wrongly but consistently dismissing what they had to say. Their problems went away when they spoke at their normal pitch and started telling the truth instead of "asking" the truth.

      So, yes, certain language fads are picked up more by young women, for whatever reason, and they're the ones who have to lose those habits in the workplace.


      On Dec 29, 2011, at 5:01 AM, Matej Klimes wrote:

      > I really don't mean to nit pick or pick a fight Jamie, I'm genuinely
      > interested why you'd want to say:
      > "That and other childish linguistic annoyances tend to go away here
      > within a year after the *person gets her * first serious job."
      > Obviously, as a non-native, I'm not going to tell you that's wrong or
      > what I would say and why, but why *her*..
      > - do you think of 'person' as feminine, or is it just to make it
      > different from the usual his (only his representing both sexes),
      > obviously to avoid his/her as too clumsy, why not their, etc?
      > Matej
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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