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January 07 2006

Is Buffy responsible for worldwide spread of Valley Girl style English? Whatever.

Love the link description Simon, heh heh, it made me lol.

Some of these sayings sound a little like they've been taken from A Clockwork Orange? Not that I'm a creepin’ and falsin’ on any of ya, it's just that the lollipopalooza gathering in my loungeroom all agreed there's a bit of truthiness to that. So, I'm off with me whale tale and me muffin top to go, you know, like talk with 'em. I'll see you chickenheads later.

P.S Hey Unpluggged Crazy, do the chickens have large talons?
(and that is the last silly post of the day from me, we hope)
I'm pretty sure none of those words were ever used in Buffy... but beign a fan of Buffy has certainly influenced the speech of this 40-something woman; I talk like a younger woman, not like most of my peers. But creative change happens in any language, at least any living language with enough speakers. It isn't surprising that young women are the driving force behind language shift, with or without cellphones; women tend to be more verbally oriented than men, and younger women tend to be more accepting of change than older women. (Tend, I said, tend. I didn't mean, like, you, okay?)

Rising pitch at the end of a declarative sentence is also characteristic of women native to the (American) Deep South, as well as of Valley Girls. For some reason, I think that's funny.
Shyeah! I'd totally blame Bill And Ted or Wayne And Garth for these kinda -isms first, dude.
nixygirl, your post is hysterical.
Aside from some dialogue in the first episode or two, I never really thought of Buffy-speak as being valley girl. I remember valley being more vacant, more filled with the incessent repitition of "like" and the ever annoying "as if!". And I really had thought that it died out sometime after the Clueless tv show disappeared (then again, I've never actually seen the OC, so I could be wrong). What the author describes sounds more like regular old slang to me, which just happened to be made up by teenaged girls. I mean, is 'podcast' really a valley term? And I have a friend who will be very upset to hear that he's not the first person to come up with 'prostitot'.

I do agree that Buffy (and Joss' work in general) has changed the way I speak and the way several of my friends speak, even those who aren't addicted to the show. I think it's made us more willing to bend the rules of English and make up words. And they must be pretty ingrained in my speech now, because I can't even think of an example. But really, how often is it that watching a show actually changes you in real life? Huh.
Heh, this is an odd little article. It's obvious that I'm not around native english speakers enough to recognise any of these words (which would confirm that the Buffy influence here is not so big), but I do have to say that I use like in sentences when talking with the few native english speaking friends I have here in Holland. But I think the use of like has probably been going on for years, whereas I wouldn't see people around me mentioning a lollipopalooza any time soon ;-)
I agree that Podcast is the word that I use most often on the list, making it the most useful for me.

But a close second is calling cigarettes squares. Been using that for years and years and now I'm I bum a square?

[ edited by alexreager on 2006-01-08 05:23 ]
I think it's unfair they're attributing/albatrossing valley-girl speak with being a key creator of new slang. Podcast is actually now considered a viable term because of how unique it is as a medium rather than something more like a slangy alternative to referring to something. "Prostitot" is astonishingly fitting, though I'm kinda boggling and worried about how "lollipopalooza" came about. I'm not sure if I should be atrributing slang terms that I've never heard of before to pre-teens when I think they have sexual connotations. Sort of like how I've never seen a gaggle of girls ever referred to as a "maltshop" or anything of the sort (either "candy shop" or "milkshake" could be put to blame for that, but on the otherhand-- yay for me if I can start spreading that term about!)

Truthiness impresses me though considering how quickly it must have been incorporated to become one of the top terms of 2005. That can be attributed mostly to The Colbert Report right?
I've never seen or heard any of these terms, except "podcast." And I live in L.A. Then again, I don't spend a huge amount of time with teenagers, whether girls or boys. No doubt there's an influence seepage upwards from the cool circles to the more fusty, but I doubt we'll see too many folks in their 30s and older starting to adopt whole new lexicons unless, like podcast, the words denote previously unknown concepts.

But, yeah, I'm sure the level of informality in English use is on the rise as new media of communication hold sway. Which is kinda why I like to hang here on W, with our old-fashioned insistence on standard usage. ;)
oranagewaxilon: you speak in truthiness, but The Colbert Report used in in mid or early October. So it had a quarter of the year to gain ground...and it's such an *apt* term, it spread like wildfire - abetted by the fact the New York Times messed it up and got called on it.
I am 37.
I lived through the 80s.
I witnessed the spread of Valley Girl hit the west-side of San Antonio.
It was horrific.

And .. NEVER...EVER... did any one ever say something as cool as....
"Way to go with the keen observiness, Jessica Fletcher."


"Hello, salty goodness!"
(Courtesy of whedonesque's quote-on-refresh)

And...not a day goes by at my office that I don't quote Buffy... or slip on Buffyspeak!
or "I mean, you can dry clean till judgment day, you are living with those stains" and "It turns out massacres are a lot like sitting through God Father 3, once is enough." No one does language like mutant enemy.
Ohmigod, like, I totally remember doing the, like, Valley girl thing when I was like, in third grade. Soooo... that totally blows the Buffy theory out of the water, 'cuz I'm like, totally 24. And, no, I don't actually live in, like, the Valley. I'm totally a Mainah, ohmigod.
I did not just read an article that had Buffy compared with The O.C.. Because surely anyone who's watched both knows that the girl speak in Orange County is nothing like in Sunnydale. Right?

Oy, my head hurts.
Gahh! Twilight thread! Where's Rod Serling?

Caroline? CAROLINE? *gropes the air blindly*
Like, get with the program Willowy, it's soooo last century to be quoting Twilight Zone.

And the really old and boring lecturer (me, in case that was too obscure) will point out that Jane Espenson says (on a commentary somwhere but I forget which one) that the writers were *not* transcribing Valley Girl but rather Joss-speak. It seems to have similar rhythm and cadence to Valley Girl but its vocabulary is very different.
Rising pitch at the end of a declarative sentence is also characteristic of women native to the (American) Deep South, as well as of Valley Girls.

I recall an article in one of the British papers (probably Guardian or Observer) attributing this kind of rising pitch/inflection in the UK to the popularity of the Australian Soap Neighbours.
nixygirl, that was mean!

purplehazel - not sure about the Neighbours influence but that rising pitch at the end of a declarative sentence is a strong component of an East Coast Australian accent and also South Island NZ accent so it is a stress pattern that is older that Valley girl, for sure. (sorry couldn't help myself!)
I remember Stephen Fry putting Australian Question Intonation (AQI) into 'Room 101' (for those who don't know it's a show where celebrities make a - usually humorous - case for their pet hates to be despatched into TV oblivion) and I am sooo with him. No offence to any Aussies on the board but if you're asking a question, ask a bleedin' question, don't turn every thing you say into one.

I can't agree that Buffy has spread valley speak around the world tho'. One of the things i've always loved about the show is it's creativity and playfulness with language whereas I always associate valley speak with vacuous nonsense normally needing 20 words (most of them like or dude) where 5 would do. I do think Buffy made more prevalent some ideas which were already around like changing word endings (e.g. I have said things like 'goodicity' or 'goodesque' semi-facetiously for years) or verbing the noun (again i've used 'Trotskied' to refer to someone/thing basically being erased from history since way before Buffy).

(note i'm not claiming any origination dibs on these terms just saying they were around. Whatever origination dibs would entail. Maybe there'd be a plaque or something).
I have to confess to having had Australian Question Intonation when I was younger due to an excessive watching of Neighbours.

Regarding the article though, it seems to me that the use of language on Buffy has always been a lot more functional than the use of 'like' every other word.

The only scene in Buffy that I automatically connect with valley speak is when the girls find the dead guy in the locker in the first episode.
No offence to any Aussies on the board but if you're asking a question, ask a bleedin' question, don't turn every thing you say into one.

Huh? I don't see any problem with that? What about you Cat? And Purplehazel? Do you guys see a problem with that? Cause I don't?

(oh I am in fine form today!)
Also, Unplugged Crazy, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day.
Noooooooooo ?
A friend I have has started to talk like this in recent years? And he's middle aged? Doesn't have kids? No Aussie friends? Doesn't watch tv shows that would infect him?

How on earth did he pick this up.

(I have the Room 101 episode with Stephen Fry, it's fabulous like everything he does?)
Originally posted by heb:
The only scene in Buffy that I automatically connect with valley speak is when the girls find the dead guy in the locker in the first episode.

I had to play that scene back several times before I understood wtf they were saying. ;)
Can't believe Clueless isn't mentioned in this article. That movie shoulders a lot of the blame for valley speak.
Truthiness is so a word that Buffy might have used, but didn't. I think all the article was trying (not wholly eptly) to say, is that Buffy is linguistically influential. And it is. In particular the use of suffixes to create new wordage. Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon by Michael Adams explores the phenomenon in a fairly academic way. But you've probably all read that one - it's been around over a year. Good introduction by Jane Espenson too.

I'm inclined to think the rising intonation thing has been around in the UK since Neighbours started to gain a stranglehold on the teen imagination. But Buffy influences far more than young women. This middle-aged woman is constantly being caught out, by daughters and pupils, in Buffyspeak too.

Shutting up now.
wilydairygnome - I love your name. It would be a beautiful thing if you were called Sid in real life.

nixy - what are you on today?

I'm relatively young, mid twenties - so not a girl (not yet a woman. Sorry, couldn't help myself. I'm all woman, baby!), and I'm from England, but I like to think I'm down with the kids, and I've never heard anyone say any of this. 'Podcast' excepted and that's only on here.

I thought lollipops were girls that were too stick-thin, anyway? Heat magazine has been lying to me. Bastards.
I thought lollipops were girls that were too stick-thin, anyway? Heat magazine has been lying to me. Bastards.

I thought this too. Because their heads were too big for the bodies?
lyrabelacqua, yes, Clueless...a marvelous little movie, and, you know, who knew, I mean, Jane Austen?

Not being judgey, just observery.

(My wife and I use that one ALL the time.)
I'm fairly certain Buffy never used any of those words, and the dialogue in Buffy tended to be much more intelligent and witty than "whale tail". But I do think that the language in Buffy, and Angel, was quite influencial, and does influence the way you speak a little.

The same happened to me, VirtualWolf, I had no idea what they were saying at first. I thought that was just a funny little scene that sort of parodied the film version Buffy.
So a little off topic, but in response to the inflection of Austrailians and Southerners, I believe that they both tend to have that lilt at the end of statements. I think the reason there is a sublte similarity is because both areas were first settled by a lot of Irish and Scots immigrants. And I use Joss speak every single day, I use actual Joss words such as "bendy", "shiny" and "creepifying". I say "hi-larious" all the time too. And in classic English language fashion I bastardize many other words in a Whedony way, usually by putting a 'y' on it. Oh wow, this was my first post! Hi everyone, I have been lurking for ages just waiting for a chance to join the fun!
I think it's pretty clear that Buffy DID use valley girl (or just California-teen-girl) speech. It made sense for her character.

In addition to that, of course, Buffy used Joss-speak. That was much more interesting and unique than the valley-girl speech, but they DO seem related. (Joss-speech shows up quite differently in the mouths of non-California non-teens; witness Angel and Spike's speech, or even the dialogue on Firefly.) So, while the writers weren't "doing" valley girl speech, they were clearly troping on it and taking advantage of it (as was Clueless, which also made up its own language).
I'm surprised no one has mentioned "Heathers" in all of this. I got all my pre-Whedon bizarre use of language from that little gem.
Well then, like, welcome tishamc.
Oh and LFW, I'm high on life baby...or umm, lack thereof.
tishamc -- Great first post, and welcome! :-)

nixygirl -- is, like, en fuego, yo! ;-)

I agree with various posters who think Buffyspeak is more about Joss than about Valley Girls. (Maybe Joss grew up with Valley Girls, or lives there himself?) Joss, and Buffy (and Angel and Mal), all speak with more intelligence and humor than someone who just uses a lot of slang -- except for nixygirl's first post in this thread, that was hi-larious! ;-) Which reminds me, I also say lots of Jossy-isms, like "hi-larious" and "shiny" and "not so much with the {your word here}."

I think the Times article had a point about American slang spreading (to be honest, I think rap slang {or fake rap slang -- btw, what the hell is a "Hollaback Girl"?} is spreading faster), but maybe the writer was not all that familiar with Buffy when he picked it as an example? You know? ;-)
tishamc - Definitely onto something there with the Scots/Irish influnce, I think. Southern NZ has the strongest and most widespread (both in proportion of population using it and frequency within those speakers' speech) "Australian Question Intonation" that I have personally struck and the Scottish influence is very strong there in place names, family backgrounds etc. Even further south, there is even a strong burred 'r' sound which is another Scots/Irish sound.
Back to nixygirl's Clockwork Orange reference, "truthiness" does have a bit of that feel, but the sources of Clockwork Orange were Cockney rhyming slang, mixed with a healthy dose of basic Russian words. The classic example being "horrorshow" which is derived from Russian "khorosho" which means good, OK, well.

It's so not Orange County.
Ah Heathers: "What's your damage" still makes frequent appearances in my personal lexicon.
Hi Miss Kitty..

Clockwork Orange...hmmm... a fun but troubling novel.

Anyone want to take this discussion to a different place (like I have time today!)?

I'm sure that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE has made the connection to Spike's chip to Clockwork Orange's basic plot.

But again, (ALL PRAISE JOSS!), what really made this take on behavioral modification interesting--- is that arguably, Spike's chip, the "decrease" in violent behavior, made him more willing to empathize and act nobly. Whereas, Burgess (who was REALLY a terribly conservative prig), thought that "super-violence" was going to be the inevitable result of Britain's welfare state (not the policies of Thatcher's party--heaven's no.).

And interestingly enough, we got to see that the chip was ultimately removed becuase it really was no longer necessary.

So out of a "TV-show", I think there was a more nuanced view of this issue, whereas the supposed intellectual view of Burgess was an ALL or NONE view, typical of zero-sum games of "intellectuals" of his tiume.
Yes, I thought so MissKittysMom, mostly the creepin’ and falsin’ term, I thought that sounded very CO as opposed to OC. (Ya gotta know I just loved writing that line) :-P

Also tishamc, I love the "what's your damage?" line, but not nearly enough as the "What's your childhood trauma" line from Cordelia, which, I (yes can you believe it) have used from time to time.

Finally, Billz, I totally had to google your en fuego line. Ha! It was great tho! God this thread just screams silliness at me. Or maybe it's the pain meds again? It's just like, so bitchen! Ya know?
I'm just grateful no one has said "Totally. For Real." yet.
Hee hee, until now.
the one I never understood but loved...spank your inner moppet?
"Spank your inner moppet" means, basically, "don't be such a baby," I believe.

spank = discipline
inner moppet = inner child

So, basically, "spank your inner moppet" means get your sensitive-soul/inner-child/whatever under control and deal with the crappy situation at hand. (I believe it make sense in context, too.)
I got the idea...
but never heard moppet before..

Apparently, Moppet is MIDDLE ENGLISH!!!

So Buff (Cordelia actually...Season 2, EP1-- "When she was bad") is all Retro-Middle Englishy!
OK, Simon, I'd been tempted, but now I gotta do this.

Here's a sample of the "VALGOL" programming language, from back in the 80's. "From modest beginnings in California, VALGOL is enjoying a dramatic surge in popularity due to its ability to generate line-of-code measurements without commitment to any real statements or actions."

like y*know(I mean) start

if pizza = like bitchen and

b = like tubular and

c = like grodymax


for I = 1 to oh maybe 100

do wah(ditty)

barf(1) = totally gross(out)


like bag this problem



Hmm, there seems to be some connection between Scots/Irish immigrants and Aussie Intonation. The only problem I can see is that i'm Scottish and I don't think my intonation rises at the end of sentences nor does anyone in my family or indeed any other Scot i've met. There is definitely a pronounced lilt to the highland accent tho' especially amongst people who were raised speaking gaelic and I guess a lot of the NZ and US Scots immigrants would have been highlanders, possibly after the clearances (whether the highland inflection consistently rises towards the end of sentences is arguable tho').

hbojorquez: I always wondered (and wanted to ask Joss Whedon) if Spike's chip was inspired by Frankfurt type examples in the philosophy of free will. Frankfurt reckoned that if you could control a person's brain so that any 'evil' decisions they made were stopped at the subconscious level but 'good' choices were allowed to continue THEN when they chose correctly they were still acting freely even tho' they couldn't possibly have chosen to do otherwise (i.e. they could never choose to do wrong since the chip wouldn't let them). It seems to fit Spike quite nicely but maybe it's just coincidence (it's also not unrelated to the Clockwork Orange idea that you have to be free to be bad if you're going to be free at all which also, thinking about it, relates to a certain recent sci-fi movie we're all fairly fond of).

MissKittysMom: Lol. If beer doesn't come out of keyboards you may owe me a new one ;)

[ edited by Saje on 2006-01-08 19:34 ]
*smirk* Everyone's on their game today, apparently. Good show, folks!
MissKittysMom that's awesome :).
I've actually caught myself using the term "Explainy." It has never raised an eyebrow.
Saje, nothing comes out of keyboards. Ever. I have scientific proof. Anyway, there's rules about this. If you're going to read internet discussion groups, (a) no liquids near the keyboard, and (2) no sleeping cats in your lap.

I thought that sounded very CO as opposed to OC.

That raises the possibility for a new series, Clockwork Orange County. Imagine a gaggle of Valley Girls kicking ass in a moloko bar....
I seem to remember someone, maybe Joss, saying that they didn't use valley girl speak because it was changing all the time and would date very quickly so they made up their own stuff. If you follow trends you'll always be behind.
zz9, I remember that as well. If I recall correctly, the writers came up with this slang and Joss approved of its use.
Clockwork Orange County

*faints from laughing too hard to breathe*

Oh, zeitgeist, you are so right: we are collectively ON today! ;-)
You guys always bring me the very best - uhhmm - words and stuff.
I have never heard of any of these terms. Maybe I'm not as cool as I thought :) If they are going to name Buffy in this as a reason for valley girl speak, then they should at least include words used on the show on a regular basis (i.e. sitch, no big, some other that other people already listed, etc). And I have to agree with an earlier post...most of the valley girl speech started in the 80's and I too would go with movies like Wayne's World and others. It was still a pretty amusing article though. I can't believe that they are starting to include these terms in the dictionary...but then again I still can't believe that "bling" is now in the
That raises the possibility for a new series, Clockwork Orange County. Imagine a gaggle of Valley Girls kicking ass in a moloko bar....

Now, that I would pay to see.
Joss, are you reading this?? It's gold man! ; D
nixygirl, violence will ensue!

Hey, just out of curiosity, what do you think the worst movie of all time is? Not that I'm going to purposely go out of my way to quote it to you all the time...

Heh heh, oh Unplugged Crazy you love me, go on, admit it! ; )
Worst movie? I dunno, I do hate the Star Wars ep 4, Jar Jar Binks! Argh!
He makes the ewoks look like.....what everybody?
I have heard hilarious pronounced High-larious for many years so that isn't new. And I have a co-worker who is upset that Joss copied his word "corpsify". I told him he should be pleased to rank up there with the master.
Cordelia, in the early years, came closest to true Valley Girl I think. And just to date myself, no-one did VG better than MoonUnit Zappa in the song "Valley Girl".
Aww, nixy, I liked all the Star Wars movies (yes, I also belong to many similar itsy bitsy minoritiesl; damn it, I don't understand how the clever, Grapes of Wrath- and Mean Streets-referencing charm of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles escapes so many people).

Just because it's so utterly cliche, don't worry, meesa won't big time quote Phantom Menace.
Arrrrrgh!!!! Just like nails down a chalk board! :-P
My own childhood trauma was buffyspeak related. Having watched it through for the first time, I was ending a lot of my words with -age (I mentain everybody picks up -something- linguistically from the show), such as slayage, or drivage for driving etc.

After the xmas holidays, where I had stayed home looking after my flatmates kitten, I was asked what I'd done. My reply?

"Oh, you know, got to do some serious bondage with my flatmate's kitten while she was away."

I have yet to live it down.

Surely, you didn't say bondage, giles...yikes.

And nixygirl, yousa feelin' bit upset?
LOL! Yes, programming humor, I know I'm in the right place. ;)

Giles- hi-larious on the bondage, I've caught myself almost saying that a few times (and intentionally saying it some other times just for the hi-larity that would ensue).

Joss-speak is, like, totally not, like, Valley speak.

And I personally love creatively abusing the English vernacular. Perhaps I derive a bit too much enjoyment from this activity. Looks like we all do. I guess I've come to the right place! Whedonesque: Come for the shared interests, stay for the bondage.


[ edited by AnotherFireflyfan on 2006-01-09 17:00 ]
He makes the ewoks look like.....what everybody?

Er, "short, hairy Orson Welleses"? 'Cause meesa so hatee the Jar Jar. No, just die, you misbegotten, oversized CGI aardvark, die!

Feelin' your pain, nixygirl, feelin' your pain. ;-)

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