Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rising intonation lowers career prospects

Rising intonation is a feature of phonology that has been discussed for a couple of decades now, often inciting strong feelings, most of them negative. Also referred to as HRT (High Rising Terminals) and AQI (Australian Question Intonation), but sometimes just labelled uptalk, rising intonation occurs when the normal descending cadence of a statement (dropping off towards the end) is replaced with a rising tone (like when you lift your voice to ask a question). We looked at it in this post back in December.

Recent research reported in the Mail Online suggests that HRT doesn't just rub people up the wrong way but can actually affect career prospects. According to Pearson who surveyed 700 men and women in managerial and ownership roles, a striking picture emerges:

The majority (71 per cent) agreed that AQI is a 'particularly annoying trait', with 85 per cent adding the use of the trait is a ‘clear indicator of a person's insecurity or emotional weakness.’ More than half said AQI would hinder the prospects of promotion and a better pay grade in their own organisation. While 57 per cent believed AQI has the potential to damage a person's professional credibility by revealing an inability or reluctance to speak their mind. Of the respondents responsible for interviewing job applicants for senior roles, only 16 per cent said they would be willing to gloss over AQI and focus purely on an applicant's strengths and aptitude.
The same picture of irritation and annoyance emerges in the gripes of various language commentators, including this piece in The Daily Telegraph.

(Edited on 09.03.14 to fix Daily Mail link)

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