English BM – Language Autobiography
“Come on just say it.”
“Stop being a baby!”
“I don’t want to.” I said.
Whenever I could, I would go to my room and sit on my bed. Sometimes in tears as I practiced words aloud to myself, “wun, wabbit, wace”.
Waking up to go to school every morning was the best. I loved reading out loud; feeling like the instructor was special, until I realized that the class wasn’t reading along and paying attention to the book. They were listening to me stumble over words and repeating myself, laughing at me. I felt alone.
I researched a little bit, and Polish people tend to have trouble with pronouncing their r’s. One can notice my accent anywhere. Everyone always does. They say I sound like Elmer Fudd from the Looney Tunes. I could understand why people would look at me if it were an uncommon thing, however it is a very common ‘language’. “Elmer's speech impediment is so well known that Google allows the user to change the search engine language to Elmer Fudd.” (Wikipedia, Elmer - Speak).
When it came time for second grade, I decided to step up. I hated being mocked and laughed at all the time. I told my parents that all I wanted was to speak normal.
They didn’t really know how to help me, other than to have me practice words with the ‘r’ sound in it. In school, one other kid in my class had an accent problem, too. She went to the speech impediment class twice a week that my school had offered. I told my parents about the class, and they filled out all the paperwork for me to go. On the first day attending, I was a nervous wreck. Thoughts went through my head; I felt like it was the end of the world. To my surprise, we didn’t even practice working on my speech until the 4th visit there. The teacher wanted me to become comfortable speaking around her, so that she got to know me a little bit. Every night, I would come home and practice the words on the paper she gave me. I would write them over and over again, repeating them aloud to my mom and myself.
“Were you born in New York?” asked my teacher.
“No, why does everyone think that?”
“Well, people from New York tend to have a problem with fully pronouncing their ‘r’ sounds.” she replied.
Actually, I was born and raised in Philadelphia and have lived in the same house my whole life. Never, still to this day, have I visited New York. It confused the hell out of me when I was little why everyone asked if I was from there. Now that I am older, I realize that people often judge a person by their accent, and assume they know where their from.
As I grew older, my accent became more and more unnoticeable. The two major things that impacted my speech impediment were the classes, and also experience. As I became older, I felt as though people stopped paying attention to my accent.
I listen to people when they talk and pick up on their accents. I was listening to my little sister Julianna tell me a story last summer and couldn't’ help but notice that she sounded just like me when I was younger. I sat down with her and told her to repeat some words for me.
“Say Rob.” I said.
“Wob.” She replied.
Hearing my little sister speak is the cutest thing ever. Now I know that I am not the only one in my family, so there must be some type of gene passed along. I know she will do just fine and will grow out of it. Practicing words over and over will help her strengthen her speech skills. It’s almost like hiding our language history, and changing how we speak to fit in with the ‘modern day, ordinary language!’