I've read the beginning of chapter 8, and I find it interesting.
As this is my first Pinker book and I am not very keen on linguistics, my reactions may be different from other readers'.
Pinker mentions "uptalk" page 182.
Here is an interesting article from the Guardian about Speech Habits, and "high rise terminals" or "high rising intonation in statements".
Apparently the trend has reached teenagers in the UK, which I was not aware of.
The writer in the Guardian says that girls are more affected than boys by uptalk "Uptalk is a predominantly female tic".
"If women always sound like they're asking for approval or agreement, they seem less sure of themselves" Says Marie-Ellen Drummond.
The one thing that worries me is this:
This is an example of those crazy ideas when all people think of is making money by sounding trendy.
Teaching intonation effectively is one of the most difficult things in foreign languages, and asking a professional specifically to give wrong models to sound like teenage talk is irresponsible.
The teenager who hears the normal intonations from adults in the English-speaking world can stop the baby talk the moment he decides to do so, but someone whose only model of English are those tapes is likely to feel confused for quite a while, not mentioning sounding like an idiot in, say, the international business world.
I'm not worried about ESL in France in the immediate future though, we'll probably be the last to abandon the teaching of the 'clipped vowels of yesteryear" . "Received Pronunciation" is still very big here -- as far as transmitting sounds is concerned. What the ears of the receivers perceive and their mouths pronounce is another story.