“Wold, ah no , Wa-woldld,”
“Break it up.”
“Okay, we will work on the rl blends later. But remember to practice talking with your mom for 15 minutes every day, Okay?”
We say our farewells and one thought lingers, “Shit, I have to practice talking with a speech therapist and my mom because I can’t even have a normal conversation. I am about to turn 13, and I have to practice saying my “r’s” while I talk to my mom. Could you be any lamer? After months of work in the past and present , I still cannot talk correctly. Ever since I could talk, I had done it wrong.”
The thing that really made me question was why does it matter. There were about thirty words that I would pronounce so poorly they would end up incomprehensible. A few of them were board, world and bird. Sometimes whole sentences would become slurred, but this was a rarity. In order to figure out why this matters we must first ask what is the point of speaking, why is communication a necessity today. James Baldwin once wrote in an essay on Black English “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate. (And, if they cannot articulate it, they are submerged).” Mr. Baldwin was referring to the way language lets you comprehend the reality around you, so you can manipulate it and the people inside of it. The pure truth in his statement is incredible. As we grow from birth we only truly create when we have the ability to comprehend our creations. you can only draw an airplane with your water painted toddler fingers when you know what an airplane is. Then why did this thing mark me as an outcast, when it only affected the a little in the way I describe the world? Why does the ability to describe life like everyone else matter and the when everyone lives so differently?
Simply because language is one of the many things that makes people see us as intelligent. Since everyone that lacks intelligence cannot speak correctly, for example the people in our society that are young children and the retarded. Therefore if you cannot talk correctly (excluding accents) then you are either a young child or you are retarded when honestly you are not either.
“Dad help me think of what to be for halloween.”
“Let me think. ”
The conversion went back and forth as he stated lame suggestion after semi-lame suggestions.
“Oh elmer fudd, thats a good one.”
I soon learned that Elmer Fudd is a the rather dull hunter in Bugs Bunny cartoons. He is foiled again by his own stupidity and bug’s simple tricks. One of his most famous lines is,
“ SSHHH I’m huntin’ wabits”
A perfect example of how stupidity is linked to impediments, because Elmer was stupid he therefore could not talk correctly. So it would seem natural to link the inverse which would be if you cannot talk correctly you are stupid. Even though this did not bother me ( I dressed as Elmer Fudd that halloween). This was simply because I did well in school, and that was proof of intelligence to me. That correlation of improper speech with lack of intelligence is in the large sub-conscious of society, and society almost completely lacks awareness of it.
There is a possibility that this is a good thing. Communication is so important, and we need to make it comprehensible. Impediments can be worked over because they can be controlled and improved upon. However, some things are so much harder to change such as accents.
“Say wattttter again,” as she interrogated him.
“No it’s spelled with a tt, waatttter.”
“I say it like everyone in south philly says it, why is that a problem?”
I then ended the conversation with a no one cares. You see here that you could tell he was lived in South Philly just by his accent. This is just a simple example of a telling accent that has little effect on his life. Though his accent makes him unique, it does not change your opinion about him. It is different with many other accents around the world. For example, II have heard a joke that goes like this:
“What time is it in india?”
“7-11 on the dot.”
This joke stereotypes Indians as workers at fast food places such as 7/11 and saying indians are Hindu. Also, googling “7/11 on the dot joke” produced 14 million results while “Why did the chicken cross the road joke” produced 3 hundred thousand. This shows the extent of the stereotyping just by accent (accent is the easiest way to identify someone who is from india because the accent is so distinct. Now you can see someone being stereotyped as a lower class worker, foreigner, and a hindu because of their accent.
The public is more conscience of this stereotype than the stereotype of speech impediments and stupidity. The problem with these stereotypes is that they have no intent to harm the people they categorize even if it is a negative stereotype. Most of the time, this stereotyping is just us viewing the world and making generalizations about what we see. Then these generalizations are used to gather information about our lives, otherwise they would be pointless.That is why people care about the way you talk, especially if you have an accent. Think about if someone heard you talking with an indian accent and stereotyped you with the 7/11 joke. They could tell where you are from, your religion, your job, and your social class. This helps you learn about this person even if not all of these things are true.
This is the importance of language, it can tell someone who you are and where you come from. This is why the way you talk matters because everyone is different and their language gives you insights on how they’re different. This, like everything, brings the bad with the benefits. This includes possibly hurtful or incorrect generalizations about peoples intelligence, education and origin. Language will never be same around the world, because people will never have the same realities. We just need to remember there are exceptions to every stereotype and that a person realty and speech does not determine who they are.