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High rising terminal

From Academic Kids

The High Rising Terminal (HRT), known colloquially as uptalk or upspeak, is a feature of some accents of English where statements have a rising intonation pattern.

It seems to be a new and increasingly common characteristic of speech among younger English speakers. Its origins remain uncertain. Some have suggested that the HRT began in Australia, spreading from Sydney to other regions, particularly in lower socio-economic groups.

In Sydney, it is used three times as often by young people as by older people, especially women. It has been suggested that the HRT has a facilitative function in conversation (i.e., it encourages the addressee to participate in the conversation), and such functions are more often used by women.

Some have attributed it to New Zealand. It has also been noted in speech patterns in Canada, the United States, and the Falkland Islands.

Although it is ridiculed in Britain as 'Australian Questioning Intonation' and blamed on the popularity of Australian soap operas among teenagers, HRT is an authentic feature of several English regional dialects, particularly those of Bristol, East Anglia and Northern Ireland. It is also heard in some Irish accents. The belief that it was imported into the UK via Australian soap operas seems unlikely given that HRT seems increasingly common in the speech of younger Americans who have not had wide exposure to Australian soap operas.

HRT has often been called 'questioning intonation', but this term is not generally used by linguists as not all utterances that are questions have rising intonation. In fact, most sentences using a Wh-interrogative rise and then fall at the end.

The phrase "high rising terminal" refers to what linguists, in prosody, refer to as the contour of the statement. Towards the end of the statement (the terminal), the intonation starts high and rises.

External links

Guardian article on uptalk (http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,555379,00.html)

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