Uptalk: How to Make It Less Annoying When Listening to a Video on YouTube

Have you ever heard of Upspeak or Uptalk? Do you know people who talk this way? I’ve often mentioned how much I enjoy listening to handbag and perfume reviews on YouTube while working here in my home office or just whenever I have some downtime. Unfortunately, a growing trend I’ve been “hearing” a lot on YouTube is the occurrence (or should I say scourge?) of Uptalk, also referred to as Upspeak.

Merriam Webster defines Uptalk as: speech in which each clause, sentence, etc… ends like a question with a rising inflection. Another way to describe it is a rising intonation at the end of sentences.

 

If you’re not familiar with Uptalk, here’s a quick 3-minute video that explains what it is: UpTalk or Upspeak. Here’s one more video by a Communication Coach with suggestions on how a person afflicted with Uptalk can attempt to correct it: What is Uptalk?

Unfortunately, some of my favorite YouTubers speak this way. I’ve especially noticed this pattern of speaking in the YouTubers I follow who happen to live in Australia. When I did a bit of research on the subject of Uptalk, I discovered that it’s quite common in Australia, more so than in a lot of other places. Interesting, huh?

Maybe it’s because I’m not used to hearing people talk this way in my everyday life, but once I notice a person doing it, I find it so distracting that I can no longer focus on what they are saying. I honestly find it that uncomfortable and grating.

I was thinking about that one afternoon when I finally gave up and turned off a video that I had really wanted to watch. I was wondering why listening to someone speaking in Uptalk bothers me so, so much! Here’s what I came up with: I think I find Upspeak so grating because by the end of a 15-minute video where someone is speaking continually in Uptalk, my brain feels as if it has just been asked a gazillion questions in the space of 15 minutes.

My brain has been programmed since birth that a rising intonation at the end of a sentence is a question, a question that needs to be answered–and most likely by me. It’s mentally exhausting to feel as if you’ve just been bombarded with constant questions over the space of 15-20 minutes, questions that never get answered.

Do you watch Family Guy? I’ve never seen the show but here’s a funny 17-second clip I came across where Uptalk is briefly demonstrated/discussed: Uptalk on Family Guy.

 

Solution:

Since some of my favorite YouTubers speak in Uptalk and I hate to miss their wonderful, informative videos, I’ve found a way to mitigate the constant upspeak and the irritation/incongruence it causes in my brain when I hear it. It’s a simple solution that though not perfect, definitely seems to help. I’ve found that simply changing the “playback speed” of the video helps to greatly mitigate the sound of Uptalk. I sometimes change the speed while listening to YouTube videos anyway. I think that’s how I first discovered it also helps lessen the sound of Uptalk.

When watching a YouTube video, to change the playback speed, all you need to do is hover your cursor over the video, then click on the “Settings” wheel where you can make the change. I typically change the playback speed to either 1.25 or 1.50. I’ve found that greatly helps quash the sound of Uptalk. Unfortunately, this method won’t work when listening to a chronic Uptalker in person.

Now, can we talk about Vocal Fry? 😉

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Comments

  1. Uptalk drives me nuts. And when they pair it with vocal fry? Even more annoying. The Kardashians uptalk and vocal fry all at once. (I’m not talking about a medical reason for vocal fry, that’s entirely different.)

    I’ve never seen a post on uptalk — good one!

    Wendy at the Inspired Eater

  2. Tina W Reynolds says

    I also find that I will avoid any video or newscast in which the women have vocal fry or vocal drag, as it is sometimes called. I wonder how someone can be a newscaster and get away with that. In one of her books, Maria Shriver recounts how she was sent by CBS, I believe, to get vocal coaching to mitigate her East-coast nasal tone and accent! If they can send her, why not everybody?!? Now we do seem to hear the UpSpeak a lot. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar does this all the time. It has become irritating to me. What’s next?

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more! It’s as if no one wants to speak in a declarative style for fear of offending someone. Everything is spoken in question form so it implies. “I’m not really saying this as fact, so don’t judge me if I toss out this idea to see if you agree and you don’t. I’m not really responsible for having an real opinion.” Argh! It’s part of the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality and completely drives me crazy. Period! (Not question mark)!

  4. Beverly Cook says

    As a former communications specialist in both corporate and academia, I have to laugh at myself that I didn’t realize why I kept muting Utube videos for project directions such as DIY crafts, sewing, cooking specialty dishes, etc and reading the closed captioned subtitles! Yes, it’s that irritating upswing at the end of every sentence that drove me to switch off the sound! Now you gave it a name! Maybe we need to return to requiring elocution lessons in our schools!

  5. Oh yes! Thank goodness it annoys other people. I thought it was just me.
    I have unsubscribed several You Tubers I once enjoyed because the UpTalk
    is just toooooo much!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to try your suggestion. You’d think they would realize the error of their speech, or is it just the young crowd who think it is so “hip” to speak this way? If they would only realize how they sound!!!!

  6. Regality3 says

    I was just about to mention vocal fry, when there it was? (*L*) V.f. is particularly frustrating, since I live in a state whose current governor has always spoken that way. Arrggghhh.

    PS: Whenever I post on your site, I lose my internet connection. For a while, I thought it was just coincidence, but now I’m not so sure.

  7. Susan, I actually wrote to a youtuber about this issue because his expertise is in one of my favorite areas (ancient archaeology) but I couldn’t listen to him. I’m not willing to allow myself to be annoyed by someone else’s weird and inappropriate way of speaking. I figured, maybe he doesn’t know, so I’ll just gently point it out and ask him if he could change. You might consider doing that to any youtubers you think have content worth watching. But your idea about the speed change is great! Thanks for that tip. I often speed up a video because some of them get so needlessly drraaaggged out, but I never thought about it for this specific purpose.

    Uptalk haters, unite! Haha. It really is amazingly irritating. Worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. And it mostly seems to be the same ‘type’ of person who does it. Hopefully it won’t rub off on the next generation. Good post!

    • Pam, did he reply back? I once saw a comment about uptalk left on a video I was watching and the YouTuber didn’t respond at all. He just ignored it. I think most people who speak in Uptalk don’t realize it because they are surrounded by others who are probably doing the same thing.

  8. Thank you for addressing this most annoying and improper form of
    speaking as well as offering a solution. I too watch fragrance
    videos and have had to abandon a few for this very reason. Reading your
    comments as well as your thoughtful followers makes me feel much less
    alone in my assessment.
    But perhaps I’m far too critical ???

    • You are definitely not alone. Trying speeding up the video and see if that does help. It doesn’t totally get rid of it but makes it a whole lot better.

  9. Erika Dyere says

    I live near Canada and many Canadians end a sentence with, eh? It drives me nuts. I even see pillows with the word on it. I always thought it is compared to how the French say no or oui, with question inflection, at the end of the sentence and it’s just the French-Canadian influence.
    Secondly, young Forrest Gump in the movie spoke this way with a long drawn out sound at the end of his words. Tom Hanks spoke in an interview that the movie producers wanted to get the kid to change his speech pattern, but Tom Hanks said he would just adopt the kids’ style. Won him an Oscar, didn’t it? 🙂

  10. I thought that it was just me that was so irritated by this way of speaking — have you ever noticed how many parents speak to their children this way? Every statement ends with “Okayyyy????” Maybe I’m old enough to be turning into my mother LOL

  11. Does it seem to be a thing with millennials? Best example today is the current press secretary for the Biden administration. Boggles my mind when the answer to every question ends with “uptalk”. Makes my head swim.

  12. I’m in agreement with the above comments. I also have another peeve with the way mostly younger people speak. If they are talking and use a word like curtain or perhaps garden it sounds like the t or d is garbled on the back of the tongue so cur(garble)an. Hard to describe but now that I’ve kindly added another thing to the list you may notice it and thank me for pointing out something else to drive you bonkers. I think I may have passed sounding like my mother and gone straight to crotchety old person.

  13. I definitely won’t be altering my play speed to compensate for their lack of proper speaking. Down vote. Unsubscribe. Simple. Although I will confess to watching episodes of House Hunters with the volume muted.

  14. I’m so glad to learn that this drives other people nuts too. I thought it was just me. I’ll need to look up vocal fry, that’s a new term to me.

  15. I usually watch with the sound turned way down and the closed captions on, unless the people have lovely speaking voices. (I could listen to Kirsten and Joerg all day! They feature beautiful tours of English cottages and gardens on their YouTube channel.)

  16. Denise D says

    I had never heard of the term Uptalk or Vocal Fry, I must lead a sheltered life lol But are irritating though

  17. Brenda Lawrence says

    Well I live under a rock because I’ve never heard of this before. Must not have watched any video’s that use it either. I will be on the look out now…maybe I watched and didn’t know what it was. Hard to say. lol Yes, looks annoying, that why I don’t think I’ve seen video’s with this Uptalk stuff. Thanks for the information/education about it Susan. Hugs, Brenda

  18. Argh! Vocal fry is the bane of my existence, since I have moderate hearing loss. In other words, what I THINK people are saying is often more entertaining that what they actually ARE saying. There’s a commercial on TV right now advertising some sort of home improvement product. What I keep hearing during the commercial is, “…and it comes with brussels sprouts!” I know that can’t be what the pitch man is saying, but that’s all I can hear due to the vocal fry. It’s so frustrating!

  19. Agree with the comments here :: not a fan of upspeak and vocal fry (a new term for me, but I knew what it was). I’ve also noticed that some people add a “sh” sound to words. Like “shtreet” for street (I first noticed this with Michelle Obama). Arrgh! it’s all so annoying! And hopefully a trend that will pass.

  20. Oh my goodness does anyone remember Laura Ashby, the Jeopardy contestant who lit up the internet and drove audiences crazy with her upspeak several years ago. People were actually hoping she would lose so they wouldn’t have to listen to her.

  21. Jill from Southern NH says

    Hi Susan. I attended an all-women’s college in the 1990s and early on we learned two key life lessons: The value of a firm, not flimsy (cold fish!) handshake, and the importance of how to speak with confidence, and that raised inflection at the end of a sentence conveys uncertainty or a question, and prevents you from sounding assertive. Don’t get me wrong – the nuns didn’t hit our knuckles with rulers (and very few wore habits then, and we had several lay professors as well) but these things came up naturally in the course of class discussions and preparing for internships, etc. Also, I love Family Guy – my husband and I have been watching it since the early 2000s when it was cancelled and then it was brought back – sometimes they push the envelope with their humor but overall it is very funny, like the Bird is the Word episode with Peter singing in the diner. Also, if you can believe it, my husband came across a young male youtuber whose otherwise slow and monotonous tone goes up and down like a rollercoaster with inflections and downfalls in rhythm in every sentence – it sounds like boredom and taunting combined and it’s pretty unbearable ; )

  22. Cynthia Blaylock says

    I’m a retired attorney and often had the need to retain an expert subject matter witness. One person I liked very much because her analytical skills were excellent and her conclusions well-founded; unfortunately, when she testified in court in front of a jury she constantly used up-speak (I didn’t know what it was called back then.) I had to stop using her because I felt it made her sound as though she was unsure of her own conclusions.

    • I don’t blame you! That’s one of the main complaints about upspeak…it makes the person sounds insecure and unsure, like they are constantly seeking approval or confirmation of what they are saying.

  23. This is a subject both my hubs and me agree with you. Back in the day it was referred to as Valley Girl speak. I admit in my older years I have been super sensitive to not only that speak, but to sounds from “professionals” who broadcast the news. I think, “why didn’t they (mangaement) just send these women to speech school before they put them on the air? Lower tones, slow distinct speech, is much easier to listen to and understand.

  24. I have a third YouTube video trend that I’ve noticed that drives me crazy. When they edit their videos, they remove all the pauses between sentence, or splice together all their sentences so that it’s non stop talking, with no breathing/pausing in between.

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