Why Is Everyone Talking Like This on TikTok?

If you hadn’t noticed it before, now you won’t be able to unsee it.

Let’s conduct a test together: open TikTok, scroll for a bit, and stop on the first video that somewhat resembles a vlog – without getting too easily distracted, we know, it can be challenging at times.

On our end, we came across this:


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Listen closely: most of the time, the narrator uses the same very cheerful, almost sing-song, and quite high-pitched tone. This is what’s known as the ‘influencer voice’ or ‘TikTok voice’ – it has nothing to do with the app’s ‘text-to-speech’ option.

Why does everyone use it?

The media outlet Dazed delved into the subject and interviewed a linguist and a sociolinguist to try to sketch a small outline of this famous voice. Their verdict: the TikTok voice is often ‘high-pitched, without breathing sounds, young, emphasizes certain words or word sequences, and alternates with somewhat strange accelerations and slowdowns.’ It is also characterized by a rising intonation at the end of sentences, as if asking a question.

This tone is not a recent development; even during the YouTube era, content creators often used a similar way of speaking, which was quite emphatic, almost caricatural, and loud. The overflowing enthusiasm of YouTube has gradually given way to a more subtle version, less artificial—or at least, one that conceals its artificiality better. The goal is to create a voice that is ‘intimate and conversational, informative and engaging, but also secretly claims authority, expertise, and sincerity while seeking to both impress and persuade,’ as linguist and lexicographer Thorne pointed out to Dazed.

Analysis of the influencer voice

But the similarity between all these voices doesn’t stop there; in the construction of the discourse itself, some striking similarities can be found. By highlighting videos that catch the eye right from the start, TikTok’s algorithm encourages a certain economy of attention, and therefore a very specific style of introductory sentences. One greets the audience at the beginning, provides context in a few words, and then immediately dives into the heart of the video’s subject.

The discourse is often punctuated with remarks intended to keep the viewers’ attention,” notes Dr. Ilbury, a sociolinguist interviewed by Dazed, such as “right?” or “do you agree?” According to the expert, all these remarks have the same subtext: ‘Are you listening to me?’ One could even extend this theory a bit by invoking Jakobson’s theory of the six functions of language. According to him, some words we utter are only meant to maintain communication; this is called the phatic function. For example, the “hello?” when making a phone call, which fundamentally doesn’t mean anything at all. So, the discourse of TikTokers is full of these phatic functions.

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