My 19 year-old son, a Syracuse sophomore, doesn’t converse in Valley-speak, but my younger son, who’s much smarter than me, does somewhat. In a dry, white-ebonics sort of way. He’s an exception. Most Val-speakers do it mall-style. The fact is that tens of millions of under-30s talk in this profoundly irritating dialect — unashamedly, kind of flamboyantly — as if they’re all from the same genetically-afflicted sub-species.
Valley-speak is about conveying sincerity and a lack of pretense, and vocalized with the exact same tonalities no matter what part of the country the speaker lives in. It involves the usual Jeff Spiccoli vocabulary along with a trait that drives me insane, which is an absolute insistence on speaking every word group, phrase and sentence as if it’s a question. (Judge: “Uhm, okay…dude? Dude? This court, like, finds you guilty? And, like, sentences you to a minimum term of, well, pretty much ten years?”)
I’m not doing an old-crank routine by complaining about this. Nobody but nobody uses Valley-speak in the business world, and certainly not among jourmalists. The second I hear it, I assume that the speaker is under-educated, a slacker pothead or mentally challenged in some way. (Sales girls at Urban Outfitters use it.) A Valley-speaker is essentially conveying to the listener, in short, that he/she is, like, totally not in the game? And that you should, like, not even think about hiring them when they come looking for a job because the chances are they’re ditzoids?
What I’m wondering is, when a Valley-speaker decides to try out a more adult dialect, how do they go about this? Do they just turn off the attitude and mindset like a faucet, or do they take a language class or find a private Henry Higgins-like tutor or what?