The phenomenon of uptalk was deplored when it first came in, as all language changes initiated by young women usually are until young men, then slightly older women, then middle-aged women in entertainment adopt the new words, syntax, pronunciation, or form. Then the old people who don't switch to this die off, grumbling, and the change is complete. I should find out if people who work with young women are early adopters or more likely to be rearguard defenders. My guess is the former. There was, and likely still is, a prejudice against it as sounding unserious and tentative. Declaratives are preferred and young women were - and in many places still are - encouraged to switch to declaratives "or you sound like a little girl." Not great for an attorney or negotiator. But uptalk has already spread out into our expressiveness, and it will become standard. It is more nuanced than mere uncertainty, as it signals "I would like to still keep the floor. But if you need to break in, this would be a good spot." To signal that one has finished and invites others to speak, the standard declarative is used, giving that piece of speech a finality.
I have an anecdote about young women and language change that I will come back to in an update. Queen Elizabeth I factors in prominently.
There is also a change in punctuation that has showed up first in texting, of leaving off a final period. As hitting "send" does even more dramatically signal that the thought has ended, there is an efficiency to that. A young friend who manages a Chik-Fil-A and works with teenagers has learned to leave the period off the end of texts, because they perceive that he, their boss, is yelling at them and get nervous and defensive. That's just how it looks to them now. To those of us raised differently it just looks wrong and incomplete, even in a text. I have taken to intentionally leaving it off in texting, just to observe myself and my own responses to change. Should be fun.
I wonder if the two are related? They both pertain to the end of sentences that would be declarative, and both are softeners of that. They might combine in some way going forward.
QE1 update. Henry VIII used thee and thou, not "you." But his daughter, the well-educated Elizabeth used "you" increasingly in her correspondence, starting as a young woman. She won, he is a dinosaur. Young women lead language change. I fancy that at the time a baron went to London to meet the important people, including the Pricess Elizbeth, and when he came home the Baroness asked him "So what is she like? What are we in for, here, if she becomes queen?" "Well, she seems quite smart and determined, I think she might actually suit. But there is one thing that bothers me. She's one of those girrls who uses "you" instead of "thee."
The baronness is appalled. "Someone needs to speak to these fluffy young women about how childish this sounds. If she wants to be queen, she should try not to sound like a ten-year old!"
But Elizabeth won and they lost. Uptalk will win. Indeed, it may already have won.