This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Valley girl" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2022) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

A valley girl is a socioeconomic, linguistic, and youth subcultural stereotype and stock character originating during the 1980s: any materialistic upper-middle-class young woman, associated with unique vocal and California dialect features, from the Los Angeles commuter communities of the San Fernando Valley.[1] In subsequent years, the term was broadly applied to any American woman who epitomized frivolity, ditziness, airheadedness, or who prioritizes superficial concerns such as personal appearance, physical attractiveness, and excessive materialism over intellectual or personal accomplishment.[2]


Valleyspeak, or Valspeak, is a California English social dialect and accompanying vocal features, best associated with Valley girls, though elements of it have spread to other demographics, including men called "Val dudes".[3] This sociolect became an international fad for a certain period in the 1980s and 1990s, with a peak period from around 1981 to 1985. Valleyspeak is popularly characterized by both the steady use of uptalk and its vocabulary.[4]

Language ideology

Map of neighborhoods of the San Fernando Valley

This lends itself to explicit language ideologies about dialects in the area as they receive more scrutiny than dialects in other nearby regions. Linguistic characteristics of valleyspeak are often thought to be "silly" and "superficial" and seen as a sign of low intelligence. Speakers are also often perceived as "materialistic" and "air-headed". The use of "like" or the quotative phrase "be like" are often ideologically linked to California and Valleyspeak despite the now-widespread use of the terms among youth, which results in their also receiving the "superficial" cast. In the national understanding, California speech is thought to be a product of the combination of Valley girl and surfer dude speech, and "is associated with good English, but never proper".[5]

A study on regional language ideologies done in California in 2007 found that, despite its prevalence and association with California in past decades, Californians themselves do not consider "Valley girls" to be an overly prevalent social or linguistic group within the state. State residents listed factors such as immigrant populations and north–south regional slang as more relevant than Valleyspeak within the state.[6]

Amanda Ritchart, a doctoral candidate studying linguistics at the University of California San Diego, analyzed 23-year-olds (college age students) from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities, specifically in the Southern California region.[7] After this study, Ritchart once stated, "Women used uptalk more frequently than men did. Their pitch rose higher overall, and the rise began much later in the phrase." Even though the gender difference is notable, the majority of both men and women speak in uptalk in Southern California. In fact, 100% of the participants used uptalk when they asked a confirming question, such as "Go all the way to the right in the middle where it says Canyon Hills?"[8]

According to the article "What's Up With Upspeak?",[9] when women use Valleyspeak, it is assumed that they have "inferior speech" patterns. For men, the high rise of intonation usually "plateaued" at certain points, especially in situations where they didn't want to be interrupted.[10]

Features and qualifiers

The sound of Valleyspeak has these main habits: nasal sound; fast-paced run-on sentences;[citation needed] breathiness; uptalk, or the sound of a question; and vocal fry.

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Villarreal, Dan (1 December 2016). "Do I Sound Like a Valley Girl To You? Perceptual Dialectology and Language Attitudes in California". Publication of the American Dialect Society. 101 (1): 57. doi:10.1215/00031283-3772901. ISSN 0002-8207.
  2. ^ Demarest, Michael; Stanley, Alessandra (September 27, 1982). "Living: How Toe-dully Max Is Their Valley:. Time magazine.
  3. ^ a b Hogenboom, Melissa (2013-12-06). "More men speaking in girls' 'dialect', study shows". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  4. ^ "Valspeak or Valley Speak". Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  5. ^ a b Nycum, Reilly (May 2018). "In Defense of Valley Girl English". The Compass. 1: 23–29.
  6. ^ Bucholtz, M.; Bermudez, N.; Fung, V.; Edwards, L.; Vargas, R. (2007). "Hella Nor Cal or Totally So Cal?: The Perceptual Dialectology of California" (PDF). Journal of English Linguistics. 35 (4): 325–352. doi:10.1177/0075424207307780. S2CID 64542514.
  7. ^ December 2013, Tia Ghose 05 (5 December 2013). "Valley Girl Talk Is, Like, Everywhere in Southern California". Retrieved 2020-04-14.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "The word "like" used more often than not; valleyspeak". The Quad. 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  9. ^ "What's Up With Upspeak?". Berkeley Social Science. 2015-09-21. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  10. ^ "Is Valley Girl Speak, Like, on the Rise?". National Geographic News. 2013-12-07. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  11. ^ Hoffman, Jan (2013-12-23). "Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak". Well. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  12. ^ Ritchart, A. and Arvaniti, A., 2013. Do we all speak like valley girls? Uptalk in Southern Californian English. ASA Lay Language Papers. from
  13. ^ "Valley Girl Talk". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  14. ^ "Is Valley Girl Speak, Like, on the Rise?". 2013-12-07. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  15. ^ "What Part of Speech is "LIKE"?". Part of Speech. 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  16. ^ Ploschnitzki, Patrick. "'Valley girl' - A dialect, its stereotypes and the reality" – via ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ Blyth, C., Recktenwald, S., & Wang, J. (1990). I'm like, "Say What?!": A New Quotative in American Oral Narrative. American Speech, 65(3), 215-227. doi:10.2307/455910
  18. ^ Anderson, Rindy C.; Klofstad, Casey A.; Mayew, William J.; Venkatachalam, Mohan (28 May 2014). "Vocal Fry May Undermine the Success of Young Women in the Labor Market". PLOS ONE. 9 (5): e97506. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...997506A. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097506. PMC 4037169. PMID 24870387.
  19. ^ Wolf, Naomi (24 July 2015). "Young women, give up the vocal fry and reclaim your strong female voice". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  20. ^ Watson, Ben (1994). Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play. Quartet Books. p. 396. ISBN 978-0-7033-7066-2.
  21. ^ "Weemawee Yearbook Memories: Tracy Nelson and Claudette Wells", a featurette on the DVD release Square Pegs: The Like, Totally Complete Series ... Totally (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2008).
  22. ^ "Deborah Foreman". IMDb.
  23. ^ Meisler, Andy (1990-07-08). "TELEVISION; Steven Spielberg Promises: 'Th-Th-That's Not All, Folks'". The New York Times. pp. Section 2, Page 27. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-04-25.
  24. ^ Williams-Wood, J. (2012-11-11). "Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation". ISSN 0887-6851. Retrieved 2022-04-25.
  25. ^ "Amy Irving". The Index-Journal. April 22, 1998. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  26. ^ Alan Schwartz, Richard (2006). The 1990s. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9781438108803. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  27. ^ Rothman, Lily (22 October 2012). "No Rebuttals: The Top 10 Movie Debate Scenes". Time. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  28. ^ Hoffman, Jan (23 December 2013). "Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  29. ^ Barrymore, Drew (2015). Wildflower. New York: Dutton. pp. 2, 7. ISBN 9781101983799. OCLC 904421431. As if I had been lobotomized, we packed our things and moved into our new home, indeed in Sherman Oaks, in 1983. It's why I still talk like a valley girl. That cadence snuck into my life at that spongelike age of eight and never left.