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Valleyspeak or Valspeak is a common name for an American sociolect, originally of the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, in particular Valley girls. This stereotype, which originated in the 1970s, became an international fad for a certain period. Many phrases and elements of Valleyspeak, along with surfer slang and skateboarding slang, are stable elements of the California English dialect lexicon, and in some cases wider American English (such as the widespread use of "like" as a hedge). Elements of Valleyspeak can now be found virtually everywhere English is spoken, particularly among young native English speakers. The language has gradually become symbolic and is increasingly becoming unrelated to its original meaning.[1]



The term "Valley Girl" and the Valley manner of speech was given a wider circulation with the release of a hit 1982 single by Frank Zappa entitled "Valley Girl", on which Moon Unit Zappa, Frank's fourteen-year-old daughter, delivered a monologue in "Valley speak" behind the music. This song, Frank Zappa's only Top 40 hit in the United States, popularized phrases such as "grody to the max". Some of the terms used by Moon were not actually Valley phrases, but were surfer terms instead (such as "tubular" and "gnarly"). But due to the song's popularity, some of the surfer phrases actually entered the speech of real Valley teens after this point. The Los Angeles surfing subculture, on the other hand, did not generally begin using the Valley terms.

One of the earliest appearances of Valleyspeak on television was during episode 9 of the first season of Saturday Night Live in 1976, in which Laraine Newman played a member of a group therapy session that included John Belushi, as the Godfather, and Elliott Gould, as the facilitator. Another early appearance of Valleyspeak and the Valley Girl stereotype was through the character of Jennifer DiNuccio, played by Tracy Nelson in the 1982-83 sitcom, Square Pegs. According to an interview with Nelson included on the 2008 DVD release of the series, she developed the character's Valley speak and personality prior to the Zappa recording becoming popular.[2]

Valleyspeak is used heavily in the films Valley Girl, Heathers, Clueless, In the Army Now, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, and Wayne's World. The character of Tiffany Blum-Deckler in MTV's Daria also uses Valley speak, as do Shaggy from the Scooby-Doo universe, Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Snake from The Simpsons. The version of Kitty Pryde in the X-Men Evolution cartoon spoke like a valley girl. DiC's English dub of Sailor Moon had Serena and Mina using valleyspeak. Clover and Mandy (and to a lesser extent the other girls) from the French animation Totally Spies! and the personification of Poland in the FUNimation dub of Axis Powers: Hetalia also heavily employ Valspeak.


Frequent use of high rising terminal is common in Valleyspeak. Statements have rising intonation, causing normal declarative language to appear to the listener as interrogative. This is also known as "uptalking", and is similar to the Australian Questioning Intonation (or AQI).

See also


  1. ^ Cralle, Trevor (2001). The Surfin'ary: A Dictionary of Surfing Terms and Surfspeak. Ten Speed Press. p. 308. ISBN 978-1-58008-193-1. 
  2. ^ "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).

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