People on TikTok Have Developed Their Own Accent, Apparently


Jan. 30 2024, Published 11:15 a.m. ET

TikTok logo on a phone screen.
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Anyone who has spent even a little time on TikTok understands that the platform can feel a bit like its own world. There's ongoing drama that can be hard to follow unless you were there for the very beginning of it, and new words seem to be getting invented all the time.

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Now, in addition to developing their own language, it seems users on TikTok have also developed something of a common accent, even if they have done so largely unintentionally. "TikTok voice" appears to be a pretty real phenomenon, so here's what we know about it, and who uses it most regularly.

TikTok logo on a black wall.
Source: Getty Images
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What is the TikTok accent?

The two most common qualities of the TikTok accent are uptalk, which means that your pitch goes up at the end of sentences, and vocal fry, or the quality of allowing your voice to creak every so slightly as you talk.

This accent is really just an evolution of "influencer speak" more generally, which predates TikTok. What TikTok has done, though, is create a platform where many more people are able to post, which has led the trend to grow.

Additionally, because TikTok has a more female user base, that has apparently also allowed for a faster evolution of language. According to Christopher Strelluf, an associate professor of linguistics at the University of Warwick, the accent is particularly common among young women, who are often pioneers when it comes to the ways that language is going to change or shift.

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"The way young women use language is the future of the way language evolves. So any changes we hear by young women are probably the future of English," he told National World.

Apparently, research has suggested that men have tended to lag behind women by an entire generation when it comes to linguistic changes.

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There are also some practical reasons for the emergence of TikTok voice. For one thing, these creators use uptalk because it sounds more personable and persuasive.

"Sociolinguistic research shows that the speaker is using uptalk as a rhetorical device to keep you engaged in the discourse," Christian Ilbury, a lecturer in sociolinguistics at the University of Edinburgh, told BBC.

TikTok voice isn't universally beloved.

Although this style of speaking is apparently becoming more and more common, both uptalk and vocal fry have been generally denigrated by the public. Vocal fry is something that many complain about in the world of podcasting, and uptalk has been made fun of for years, and is a quality that some people seem to associate with indecisiveness.

It makes sense, then, that these qualities are most commonly associated with women. Vocal fry, in particular, is something that every person has, but only men seem to complain about when they hear a woman doing it. If the TikTok accent is real, and if it's really the future of speech, then men are just going to have to get over it. TikTok voice is the future, and the women who are already using it may be ahead of the curve.

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