I always speak like this?

Thanks to Kilby, who saw the rerun Cul de Sac, was reminded of the recent Jesus and Mo, and was led to ask Jesus reads “Cul de Sac”?

If you enjoy Jesus and Mo?, then for some science?, and a lot of opinion?, you might enjoy the Why Evolution is True blog from retired University of Chicago Professor Jerry Coyne?, who often prints in the blog fresh Jesus and Mo strips he receives from them?

P.S. This ginger guy is Mo? He’s a big help with email?


  1. I only notice uptalk in real life if it’s really pronounced; then it’s annoying. And whenever someone tries to render it in written form, it appears really pronounced.

  2. I’ve never heard it called “upspeak” or “uptalk.” I used to think of it as “Beatles Talk” because they did that when they were new on the scene. (Dubliners tend to do it too, right across the water from Liverpool, innit?) If someone combines it with Valley talk, it becomes, OMG, SO annoying, I can’t even…….

  3. I went to college in the Lehigh Valley, and while its dialect is very similar to that of the Delaware Valley, they speak with a subtle uptalk, not just for inplied questions but as a general speech pattern. Once it ws pointed out to me, I could not unhear it.

  4. I just spent the weekend in Amish country PA, about half an hour west from where I went to high school (half an hour in farm country is not far at all). I was amazed, having been away for some 30 years now, a) how noticeable the Delaware Valley accent was to me, where growing up, aside from that one guy on channel 12 with the strong south Philly accent (channel 12 was PBS, so he stood out even more), “no one had an accent” (this is the newly media darling accent which can include the “wddr / doddr” Mare of Easttown bits) and b) how quickly I found myself picking it up after all this time away. I don’t know if I ever really talked like that, because I do tend to pick up noticeable accents quickly and unwittingly, like when I am in the South, or a particularly sing-songy Scots accent. I’ll have t be on the look-out for the Lehigh valley accent. I think I know what it is about it you are getting at, but up to now that has always been different enough from the wddr of the local accent that I would hear it as an accent. Whether I would start unwittingly imitating it if I stayed in the area a few days remains to be seen…

    (Two fish pass another, and he says in greeting, “How’s the water today?” After he’s passed, the one fish says to the other, “What the hell’s ‘water’?!” This is what it’s like with the prevailing accent you grow up in — it’s so ubiquitous, you don’t hear it at all, let alone know if you are doing it…)

  5. I think it may be a Jewish thing. In “The Joys of Yiddish” Leo Rosten told a story about a Russian Jewish guy who was honored by Stalin for saying “You’re the leader of the Soviet people, you are the greatest of all.” However when spoken it became “You’re the leader of the Soviet people? You’re the greatest of all?”

  6. I always thought it was a habit people picked up in grammar school.

    Teacher: Who was our first President?
    Student: Abraham Lincoln?
    Teacher: Are you asking me or telling me?
    Student: Abraham Lincoln.
    Teacher: Wrong.

  7. I’ve heard it called “upspeak”. I have been following a lot of court videos recently. Some states are allowing judges to live stream some cases and have archived videos. One such is 3B District Court in St. Joseph County Michigan. A frequent participant is APA Deborah Davis, who became a bit of a celebrity because of the Zoom hearings. She’s noted for her facial expressions and eye-rolls. She also does a bit of upspeak, usually expressing some doubt about what someone else has said. She does a bit of “vocal fry” on occasion as well,

  8. @ MiB – Both of my kids have used that kind of “give me a hint” intonation when we’re reviewing homework, I’m still working on one of them to break the habit.

  9. I always thought it was an Australian thing, the Australian Rising Inflection.

  10. Imagine the President of the United States using upspeak.

    “It’s been a year of challenges, but it’s also been a year of enormous progress? We have 210 million Americans fully vaccinated? We created 6 million new jobs? More jobs in one year than at any time before? Unemployment dropped? Child poverty dropped by nearly 40 percent?”

  11. Like LarK we go to the PA Dutch country – and we do so fairly often. (We are hoping to use our July 4th week RV Park reservation this year – it has been carried forward from same period 2020 to same period 2021 and on to this year.)

    We try to fit in and remember expressions and inflections used in the area and there are people in various businesses we go to there (not tourist businesses) who seem to think we are local. Among the differences – on Long Island (pronounced “Lawn Guyland”) when giving someone change – “Your change is 50 cents.” In the Lancaster area they say “50 cents is your change”

    We first went there together in the mid 1970s on our first trip together – and my parents never asked to meet the couple who were “traveling with us”. We went there at least annually in the early years and progressed to the point that we went there at least 6 times a year.

    (Have gone once since the pandemic started and I was not happy – this was last year back while masks were the rule around here and it was rare to see someone without same as it was still being heavily pushed by State and Federal medical sources. When we got out of the RV (took it even though just there for day – it needs to be driven) at a local farmers’s market we go to the only people wearing masks were the tourists. It really upset me and i would not eat lunch at the market as it was a cold lunch – at least dinner was cooked and gloves and masks were being worn by the restaurant staff).

  12. Let’s get everyone fired up by another mannerism.

    Beginning sentences with “So”, but not as a coordinating conjunction.

    I’ve been known to ask such miscreants the obvious question.


    “So I looked out of the window and…”

    “As a result of what did you look out of the window?”


    “So I was on the bus the other day …”

    “Because of what were you on the bus?”

  13. So, so has become a marker of the non sequiter, kind of like you can say “Apropos nothing…”, although that usually implies the opposite, i.e., you are trying to call attention to the connection between two seemingly unconnected things, but pretending you aren’t.

    So what’s your point?

  14. I think of an initial “So” as a short form of “So anyway,” which in turn I read as an attempt by the speaker to close off the current topic of discussion (which, to be fair, may have died already anyway) and start a new one more to hir liking.

    “And that’s why pineapple on pizza is a great moral evil.”

    [Fifteen seconds of dead silence and thumb twiddling from the group, who are SO over this]

    new speaker:

    “So, anyway, anybody going to watch the big game this weekend?”

  15. The “So…” disease is very widespread among guests to NPR’s talk shows. The respondents appear to have prewritten replies that they want to present on air, and use “so…” to graft each piece of boilerplate text onto whatever question that seems halfway convenient.

  16. Don’t get me started on interviewers who let them get away with that rather than (with increasing sterness each time) say “that is not an answer to the question I asked. I will ask it again, please answer it this time”.

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