Fer sure, Fer sure – She’s a Valley Girl!

Frank Zappa’s song ‘Valley Girl’ sensationalised and popularised the American sociolect Valspeak with its release in 1982. Valley Girl was Zappa’s only song to reach the US Top 40 and continued its burst of popularity throughout the 1980s.

“Valley Girl”

Valley Girl
She’s a Valley Girl
Valley Girl
She’s a Valley Girl
Okay, fine…
Fer sure, fer sure
She’s a Valley Girl
In a clothing store
Okay, fine…
Fer sure, fer sure
She’s a Valley Girl
In a clothing store

Like, OH MY GOD! (Valley Girl)
Like-TOTALLY (Valley Girl)
Enchino is like SO BITCHEN (Valley Girl)
There’s like the Galleria (Valley Girl)
And like all these like really great shoe stores
I love going into like clothing stores and stuff
I like buy the neatest mini-skirts and stufl
It’s like so BITCHEN cuz like everybody’s like
Super-super nice…
It’s like so BITCHEN..,

On Ventura, there she goes
She just bought some bitchen clothes
Tosses her head ‘n flips her hair
She got a whole bunch of nothin’ in there

Anyway, he goes are you into S and M?
I go, oh RIGHT…
Could you like just picture me in like a LEATHER TEDDY
Yeah right, HURT ME. HURT ME…
I’m sure! NO WAY’
He was like freaking me out…
He called me a BEASTIE…
That’s cuz like he was totally BLITZED
He goes like BAG YOUR FACE’
I’m sure!

Valley Girl
She’s a Valley Girl
Valley Girl
She’s a Valley Girl
Okay. fine…
Fer sure, fer sure
She’s a Valley Girl
So sweet ‘n pure
Okay, fine…
Fer sure, fer sure
She’s a Valley Girl
So sweet’n pure
It’s really sad (Valley Girl)
Like my English teacher
He’s like… (Valley Girl)
He’s like Mr. BU-FU (Valley Girl)
We’re talking Lord God King BU-FU (Valley Girl)
He’s like so GROSS
He like sits there and like plays with all his rings
And he like flirts with all the guys in the class
It’s like totally disgusting
I’m like so sure
It’s like BARF ME OUT…
Gag me with a spoon!

Last idea to cross her mind
Had something to do with where to find
A pair of jeans to fit her butt
And where to get her toenails cut

So like I go into this like salon place, y’know
And I wanted like to get my toenails done
And the lady like goes., oh my God, your toenails
Are like so GRODY
It was like really embarassing
I’m like sure…
She goes, uh, I don’t know if I can handle this, y’know.
I was like really embarassed…

Valley Girl
She’s a Valley Girl
Valley Girl
She’s a Valley Girl
Okay, fine
Fer sure, fer sure
She’s a Valley Girl
And there is no cure
Okay, fine
Fer sure, fer sure
She’s a Valley Girl
And there is no cure

Like my mother is like a total space cadet (Valley Girl)
She like makes me do the dishes and (Valley Girl)
CLEAN the cat box (Valley Girl)
I am sure
That’s like GROSS (Valley Girl)
BARF OUT’ (Valley Girl)
OH MY GOD (Valley Girl

Uh-huh… (Valley Girl)
My name?
My name is Ondrya Wolfson (Valley Girl)
That’s right, Ondrya (Valley Girl)
Uh-huh .
I know (Valley Girl)
It’s like …
I do not talk funny …
I’m sure (Valley Girl)
Whatsa matter with the way I talk? (Valley Girl)
I am a VAL, I know
But I live in like in a really good part of Encino so it’s okay (Valley Girl)
So like, I don’t know
I’m like freaking out totally
Oh my God!

Hi – I have to go to the orthodontist
I’m getting my braces off, y’know
But I have to wear a retainer
That’s going to be really like a total bummer
I’m freaking out
Like those things that like stick in your mouth
They’re so gross ..
You like get saliva all over them
But like, I don’t know, it’s going to be cool.

Valspeak is characterised by certain linguistic features such as a high rising terminal, using qualifiers as quantifiers and slang terms/phrases. Qualifiers such as ‘like’ have also made their way into wider American English. It is clear from Frank Zappa’s lyrics that the song was intended to ridicule users of Valspeak. I find this song particularly interesting because these linguistic forms were first used, almost exclusively, by a certain type of sociodemographic i.e. affluent upper-middle class young girls living in San Fernando Valley. Johnstone (2010:31) argues that when certain features are used in particular contexts, they can lead to the creation of social identities.

The use of phrases such as ‘barf me out’ ‘bitchin’ ‘like, oh my God’ or uptalk can come to index a Valley girl because these features are repeatedly used by all members of this particular socio-demographic. But can this indexical relationship come to index other social identities? I do believe this to be the case for Valspeak because of the way it is presented in this song. This becomes immediately clear when Zappa describes Valley girls using the following phrases “tosses her head ‘n flips her hair; she got a whole bunch of nothin’ in there” as well the high rising terminal at the end of the declarative sentence “there’s like the Galleria”. When these features are used by Valley girls in connection to certain topics such as shopping, personal appearance and social status, they can index other social identities which are associated with these topics. For example, if a Valley girl uses these features with reference to these topics it might then index a personality which is self-centred, materialistic, and stupid.  In fact, Moon also used surfer slang in the song which did become popularised in Valspeak after the song was released yet, surfers despise and avoid the use of Valspeak. I would say that the negative stereotypes have scared people off from using these terms in their speech but how do phrases like ‘bag those toenails’ or ‘gag me with a spoon’ get associated with Valley girls? Johnston (2010:32) claims that “people learn to hear linguistic variants as having indexical meanings by being told that they do, and they continue to share these ideas about indexical meanings.” Again, the spread of such stereotypes are down to transmission from one person to another. I think these stereotypes would have become stabilised not only through the song’s popularity but also through films like ‘Clueless’ whose main protagonist Cher Horowitz is the pure definition of a Valley girl.

Johnstone, Barbara. 2010. Locating language in identity. In Carmen Llamas and Dominic Watt (eds.), Language and Identities, pp. 29-36. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


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