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Stuttering (also known as stammering in the UK) is a speech disorder in
which pronunciation of the (usually) first letter or syllable of a word is
repeated involuntarily. For example, stuttering on the word "table" would
become either "t-t-t-t-...t-table" or "ta-ta-ta-ta-...-ta-table". Stuttering
is an involuntary process which hinders normal communication. The person
stuttering cannot himself stop the process, but anxiousness or nervousness
often escalates the problem.
Usually, stuttering appears slightly before adolescence, and sometimes it
disappears after puberty. However, if it continues to a mature age, it
usually stays forever. It is three times more likely for boys than girls to
get this disorder. Stuttering can be treated through speech therapy, but the
results vary. Most commonly, the problems can be decreased, but there is no
objective way to measure the results.
Stuttering sometimes develops into blocking, that is, even the first letter
or syllable becomes impossible to pronounce, i.e. blocked. A natural
explanation for this is that while trying to avoid stuttering or in fear of
stuttering, the person cannot utter the word at all. This too is an
unvoluntary action even though the development from stuttering to blocks can
be partly intentional.
In the past, this disorder was often attributed to psychological problems,
but perhaps the most prominent current view is that the reason has something
to do with neural synchronisation problems in the brain. Recent research
indicate that stuttering is caused by disrupted fibres between the speech
area and language planning area, both in the left hemisphere. This
disruption could have been caused by early brain damage or a genetic link.
The disorder can be compared with dyslexia which is another disorder
Famous people who stuttered:
* Lewis Carroll
* Winston Churchill
* Marilyn Monroe
* Kim Philby
* Alan Turing
The most famous fictional character who has the speech impediment is the
Warner Brothers animated character, Porky Pig.
As a practical note for non-stuttering people: most people stuttering would
wish that the problem be ignored in normal situations. However, if
stuttering causes a problem for the listener, then one should not be afraid
to talk about it.