Never Giving up the Lisp
It all started when I was in grade school on the yellow school bus.
“What’s your name”,
“Piercesuss” I reply. Immediately I get funny faces from whomever I’m talking too.
“Why do you talk like that?”
“Do you have a speech impediment?”
Speech impediment? I think to myself what’s that. To me the way I sounded was always normal but apparently it wasn’t. I was being criticized for my so called “speech impediment” that I didn’t even know about.
“What are you talking about”,
“I don’t have a shhpeech impediment.”
“Yes you do! , you have a lisp!”
It has a name, my so called speech impediment has a name, now I will be labeled as the boy with the the lisp.-- I’ve always had problems with kids with their teasing. They would get me to try say words or they would mock me, “Say twizzlers or snake”. I didn’t really care what people would think so I would humor them and repeats the words. “Twishulers” and without even trying there was a lot of miss pronunciation in the word and I sounded kind of ridiculous.Yeah I can admit it, this was the first actual time I felt insecure about my accent but in a way I thought it made me different. As I talked more using new vocabulary as I grew my lisp seemed to get worst. No one would try to get me to mock things anymore because they got use to me. I still had a heavy lisp which would really be a disturbance to me when I was trying pronounce new words in English class. I felt like my lisp was my enemy when it came to just that class. I almost felt normal in other classes but in that class, I felt like it attacked me.
“Hello Class, we have new vocabulary for the week, please repeat after me.”
“Say parenthesis!” As I am in the back of the room I slowly try to pronounce this word.
“Paren, Parentheties, Pa, Pa!”
My lisp was making this new word way too difficult.
I couldn't even pronounce this word I just mumbled in the back of class. My lisp was so bad that I would me get tongue tied on words that still to this day hold a challenge.
“Say Surfeit” , I didn’t want to be that kid who mumbled in the back of the class, I wanted to be that kid who stood out, so out of know where I got a sudden urge of confidence I blurted out loud “Shhurfeit”. I immediately knew that all eyes were on me and I just put my head down from embarrassment. But later on as I thought about what happened, I shouldn’t of been embarrassed I should of been proud of me giving it a try.
As the years past I became more comfortable with my lisp and what people had to say about it. I use to not talk at all in class even if I knew the answers because of how I sounded to others. But now I have no problem of raising my hand. Other students in my middle school would still try to get me to repeat words. I actually looked forward to this because I became comfortable enough with my lisp to laugh about it. As long as people didn’t go overboard with mocking then I essentially had no problems.
All my life I’ve felt the most accepted in the comfort of my home. My parents and Siblings never brought me through torment that I experienced through school. Didn’t they hear my lisp? Is it really not that noticeable or are they just ignoring it because I’m family?
As a young child growing up on the rough streets of West Oak Lane, you had to make sure you could defend yourself. I don’t mean a physical defense either but I’m talking about a verbal defense. Back when I was really committed to basketball, I would be at the park playing a game of Basketball and as always on the Simons community court there would always be a problem. It might be the littlest problem from arguing about untied shoelaces to a hard foul. If you got into one of these arguments you would have to have smart, smerky, offensive remarks using curse words with a solid firm voice that I just didn’t have. If you came into one of these arguments with good comebacks but a light lispy voice like mines then you would surely be ridiculed by the other people at the park every time you went there. I would always try to avoid conflict and if I did get into one of these arguments I would put on a sort of facade to make me seem tougher. I had to talk slow and clear to get my point across.
Random person “ You ugly as shit youngin”
Me “You are just mad because I beat you in ball. You ain't nothing but a noodle.” As I said with a slow strict and firm non lispy voice.
This was the only time where my lisp wasn’t my enemy and thank god for it because if I had a strong lisp during these arguments I would have surely been embarrassed off the courts.
In the essay “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?”, by James Boldwin, Boldwin talks about how language is a powerful influence. Stated in the essay it says “ It goes without saying, then that language is also a political instrument, means and proof of power.” Language can be used as an instrument or tool by the way you use and compose it. The way you sound and how you talk can make an influence on people, so if you talk with a deep slow clear voice thats the first impression you give off to people.
Through my life language and speech has had an impact on my life as well as others. It’s affected me through school and socially with my peers. I’ve learned to not blame or ridicule myself for something that defines who I am. Know I am proud to be known as the boy with the Lisp.