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The Frank Zappa song Valley Girl, from 1982, is a musical testament to the phenomenon.
. . .
But in the UK many people take it as a given that the speech pattern arrived from Australia, going so far as to dub it the Australian Question Intonation. Some laymen go even further and trace the shift in British speech patterns to the arrival of soap opera Neighbours on British television in 1986.
Suddenly, a whole generation of British children and young adults were simultaneously exposed to the upward inflection.
. . .
Liberman and other linguists hypothesise that uptalk could date as far back as the 9th Century. "It has been suggested that this distribution of rising inflection in sentences in northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland probably had something to do with the Scandinavian influence there," he says, "but that's just a hypothesis, like everything else."
. . .
Uptalk has also become more popular, Collins believes, because of our dwindling attention span. A staunch traditionalist, she believes that the rising tones we so often hear in snatches of conversation are in fact people striving to divert their companion's attention away from their mobile phone. "People are checking as they speak to make sure you're paying attention," she says.
"Whenever a student comes to me for elocution I try to eliminate uptalk," she notes, "but English is evolving and this is something I may just have to accept at some point."
striving to divert their companion's attention away from their mobile phone