Folk Speech – American

When communicating with her best friend and other friends in her clique, Nateka speaks as fast as she possibly can. Her friends are able to understand everything she says and she in turn is able to understand everything they say.

I asked Nateka why she and her friends speak so rapidly with each other and then return to a normal tempo when speaking with everyone else. She says that it developed over time. At first they spoke quickly only to interrupt each mid-speech but over time they just kept talking faster and faster until they were speaking so fast that no one outside of their group understood what they were saying.

Another contributing factor, according to Nateka, was television and especially the rise of “Valley” talk. “Valley” girls tend to speak quickly. Nateka said that her friends were already speaking quickly by the time they were exiting Elementary School and all throughout Middle School during the mid to late 90s. Seeing other girls speaking rapidly on television helped prolong her habit of speaking quickly and also increased the speed of her words when conversing with her close friends.

She says that everyone had their “thing” in school and speaking rapidly was the “thing” that belonged to her and her group of friends. I think it was a defining characteristic that helped them establish a sort of group identity. Upon hearing her speak rapidly to me, as she does among her friends, I had no idea what she said until I slowly replayed the dialogue in my head. It is certainly not something I would be able to manage on a regular basis. For her and her group of friends it is completely normal and, according to Nateka, they prefer that people don’t understand what they are talking about.

An example of Nateka’s mode of speech can be seen in the television series Blossom. Jenna Von Oy’s character Six Le Meure is the best friend of the main character Blossom. Six is extremely quirky and almost always speaks extremely fast. She speaks so fast, in fact, that Blossom has to constantly grab her by the shoulders and tell her to slow down, at which point Six usually tries to speak slowly but ends up increasing speed until she is speaking quickly again. This is very much the way Nateka and her friends speak to each other, except they all speak quickly unlike Blossom who speaks at a fairly normal speed when conversing with Six.

Here is an clip of Six from the television show Blossom:

Six on YouTube

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