There are some things that I really dislike. No. I mean really dislike.
Take crop pants.
Crop pants are, perhaps, the single silliest and most unflattering article of clothing ever contrived for the female form (and, yes, I include the entire decade of the 1920s in this assessment). I’m not talking about Capri pants or pedal-pushers, both of which are fine in small doses; I’m talking about crop pants: those pants where some designer decided to cut the trouser legs off mid-calf, use less material, and charge more for it.
Ladies, crop pants make you look like hobbits. They make you look short, and make your feet look big. They truncate the lines of your form and exaggerate the size of your rear end. They are singularly unsatisfactory; you’d do better to roll up your pant legs like a sock-hopper. Seriously. If you own a pair of crop pants, burn them. You can thank me later.
As you can see, I hate crop pants. I shall always hate crop pants. If the world were to be destroyed and built again, giving us all a second chance, if it has crop pants in it I shall consider the entire enterprise a failure and not worth the effort.
Same goes for uptalk.
Uptalk–or “upspeak,” or “high rising terminal,” the habit of ending every sentence with an upward inflection? Even though it’s a statement?–is the hallmark of youth in the ’90s and early Aughts. Uptalk arose when Generation Y–unsure of themselves and unaccustomed to independence–started to interact with other people face to face instead of by text message. It began predominantly amongst females as a way to tone down an otherwise assertive confidence, build consensus, or soften contradiction. Soon, though, the practice spread to males, and after that you couldn’t find anyone in their twenties who could string together a basic assertion of fact without planting a question mark on the end like a conquistador in the New World. It was as if they were unsure of everything. Or apologizing for everything.
To be fair, my generation did something similar by ending sentences with “y’know?” Growing up, I might have said, “I really don’t like the new Triumph Spitfire. The Mark II was much cooler, y’know?” It wasn’t that I was unsure of my opinion–the Mark II was way cooler than the Mark III–but it was my way of gauging the reaction of those around me. I wasn’t weakening my stance on the subject; I was inviting the opinions of others.
When it started, uptalkers simply dropped the “y’know?” but quickly the habit expanded to every statement they uttered. Thus, a simple introduction by a student to the class would come out as: “Hi? My name is Britney? I grew up in San Rafael? California?”
I mean…doesn’t she know?
Maddening. Simply maddening. An entire generation so conflict-averse that they couldn’t properly inflect a simple declarative sentence. What were all those trophies for?
Lately, though, I’ve noticed a shift: Uptalk is on the downswing.
To my dismay, it’s being replaced–perhaps directly–with the “Yeah-No” response pattern.
You’ve heard it. Perhaps you’ve even used it. It’s when someone asks a question or makes a statement, and the response begins with “Yeah. No….”
What’s up with that? What logical sense (if any) is hidden beneath this opening gambit of nonsensical self-contradiction? “Yeah. No…” Is it shorthand? And if so, for what? Curiously, I’ve also heard “No. Yeah.” as a starting point. They seem interchangeable, with no apparent reason why one is used versus the other. Further, they are used regardless of whether the reply is in concurrence or dissent. It’s almost as if the speaker is saying, “I am going to say something in response to your comment, with which I may or may not agree; please prepare yourself.”
I will never, ever consider uptalk as anything other than a sociological aberration.(Okay, I might be moved off that particular stance, but I’m never going to like it.) It’s probably a fitting punishment for my generation’s inept parenting abilities, but I am glad it seems to be going away.
However, I do not believe I am going to like its replacement any better.