Thursday, 14 May 2020

Forties: elocution

I'd forgotten about my speech impediment, until I was obliquely reminded of it just now by Z.

Until I was six, I couldn't pronounce the 'th' sound.  This was a serious problem, apparently, because I was sent to elocution lessons at Cranleigh Road school, where I rapidly learnt the trick.  You just put the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth.  (A phonetician writes: there are different vocables or phonemes, nasal or otherwise, of this combined consonant, as in 'there' or 'anathema'.)  (An elocution pupil writes: thuck off!)

So the cure worked, but the damage had been done.  Being told, before I was six, that I couldn't speak properly must have put me off the idea of speaking.  Once I'd got the hang of it, it probably took me quite a while to become brave enough to try it. 

(I also couldn't rrrroll my rrrrs, and still can't, but that's another tongue twister entirely.)


  1. I'm the same with my rs. It must be genetic.
    I can't gargle either. Is that a family trait?
    The good news is I've been randomly selected for partaking in a survey of covid-19 testing.
    The bad news is I don't like sticking sticks down my throat or up my nose. Is that a family trait?

  2. I'm checking how I say 'th' now. It works with my tongue behind the front teeth or on the biting surface.
    I can gargle and roll my rs, Richard. Tim can manage a nice West Country r, though, which I'm sure you can do too.

    The test doesn't sound particularly pleasant and quite easy to not do properly. Hope it won't be too uncomfortable.

  3. The test was done! The die is cast! It was indeed quite easy to not do properly and I don't know whether it was done so. But it wasn't too bad really, all things considered. Of course I have no tonsils to stroke the swab over (so one is told to stroke the area where they would have been) so maybe that has something to do with my lack of rs and gargleability.