High-rising terminalPosted by Sharon Creese on October 13, 2010
HRT…in the UK, this acronym commonly stands for hormone replacement therapy, a common treatment for women undergoing the menopause. Linguistically however, HRT stands for high-rising terminal. This is the questioning intonation that appears at the end of a sentence, whether it is a question or not. This pronunciation habit seems particularly prevalent amongst younger people in the UK, Australia and the US. The high-rising terminal is confusing, as on one hand it suggests that the speaker is checking you agree with what they have said so far, and on the other, it sounds like he or she is unsure of what they’re saying. I wonder if this phenomenon is happening among speakers of other languages?Email this Post
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It does not only mean that the person is unsure of what s/he is saying. In Australian English it has a more common use, which is to mean that your turn in a conversation is not finished, and it also seems to be a cue for the listener to give a short response (e.g. ‘right’, ‘mm hmm”, etc.) that signals that he/she is following what the speaker is saying.