Stammering was re the Weakness of Nine Lived Enchanters and Re A Sinister Subject

Ven ven at
Tue Apr 3 16:35:09 EDT 2001

Jenwa wrote

> hmm.  how severe is severe?  Simon in Terry
> Pratchett's Equal Rites has a stammer/stutter, but
> everyone just finishes the words for him.

Well, so far all the fictional examples quoted are of relatively mild 
stammers. At their worst they can block verbal communication 
completely. To put it another way, when I was eleven it could take 
me longer than the duration of a Fast Show sketch to say my 
name to a teacher, or ask for a quarter of humbugs. Add to that 
severe stammerers often develop a repetoire of tics, grimaces and 
peculiar noises as they struggle to speak. Nervousness is one of 
the milder things that gets attributed to them. I read of a British 
stammerer who was arrested and handcuffed at gunpoint by 
American police who assumed he was insane or on drugs. It is 
terrifying to think how far the chain of misunderstanding could go.

One of the saddest things I have ever seen was a little girl in a 
documentary explaining how her stammer prevented her having any 
friends. I was luckier and my stammer less severe so that I could 
talk to other children and manage ok outside of the pressure 
situations like those above and reading out loud in class. I 
remember being very frustrated at my inability to join in quick fire 
exchanges of wit (well, as much wit as 11 year olds manage), 
because the moment would pass before I got started, until I 
accidentally hit on "the putting on a funny voice device".  

Anyhow to accurately represent what happens when someone is 
being blocked from speaking by a stammer would be to have to 
describe the noises and grimaces that are occurring before, during 
and after every single word. I'm imagine here having someone write 
this in the style of Samuel R Delany with painstakingly accurate 
description. And even in his beautiful prose it would just be too 
much over a whole book.


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