Make Room For The Stuttering

Being Around People Who Stutter

Posted on: October 28, 2009

Just a quick note . . . . . I have a good friend that I used to work with about two years ago. We keep in touch more now that we don’t work together than when we saw each other every day at work. She was always very comfortable with my stuttering in the work place, and would ask me questions sometimes, like did my stuttering vary or increase according to certain circumstances.

I remember one time she commented to me (and prefaced it with, “no offense intended”), after being with you for a while, I notice that I stutter a little bit for a day or two afterwards. At first, I didn’t know what to make of her mentioning that my stuttering was “rubbing off on her”, but then I just laughed, because it was kind of funny. And I actually noticed her stutter a bit sometimes after hanging out with me.

It also reminded me of when I myself have visited Southern states – Louisiana or Texas – that for a day or two afterward,  I find myself speaking with a bit of a southern drawl! What’s up with that? And I’ve had people ask, “do you realize that you’re talking with an accent?”

What do you think? Do you think its possible that someone can “pick up”another’s stuttering? Do you think a person who stutters might be offended by this? Or think they are being made fun of? Can speech patterns rub off on others?

7 Responses to "Being Around People Who Stutter"

Hey Pam,

That’s an interesting observation. But, Does it really work with Stuttering? I don’t know!

In my English speaking experiences, I kinda speak with an Indian accent to my Indian friends and with others, I kinda speak with the CNN Newsreaders American accent which I grew up listening to & surrounded by it.

And, when I talk to my cousins who are Singaporeans, I sorta speak to them in the Singaporean-English accent! Sometimes, I just wonder “What the heck? What is my real English accent? And, What is the CORRECT English accent?” 😮

I hope any Linguists could that!!!


New England is apparently pretty close, closer than current British Upper Class.

BBC is similar to formal singing training, where the vowels are chosen to be easy to do loud, long and clear, and less hard for the listener and on your throat.

When I was speaking super-clearly for debating, I was asked if I was English. My debating partner was Scottish and we loved BritComs.

When I immersed myself in Greg and Danny’s podcasts in order to believably write Josh,I found myself thinking with stuttering, particularly with prolongations but also a lot of repetitions. I also became more conscious of the times I stuttered during regular speech (usually when issuing instructions to the kids). I don’t know if I did it more than normal or if I just noticed it.

Speech patterns definitely rub off on me in other situations, though. I find myself thinking in other people’s speech patterns a lot, something that helps immensely in writing fiction.

That’s interesting that you “find yourself thinking in other people’s speech patterns”. No wonder you can get inside a character’s head so well. I really look forward to meeting Josh!

Do your kids notice when you stutter while giving them instructions? 🙂

They don’t notice at all, no. 95% of the times it happens, it’s because I switched words mid-sentence and can’t reprogram my mouth fast enough (you know how it is giving kids instructions–you have to do it FAST or they turn off).

They DO notice when I use totally the wrong word, though! I get called on that all the time.

Thinking like someone else is probably 80% of writing a character. Part of that,a big part, is absorbing someone’s speech patterns. I also use it to do dead-on parodies of people I love (like, say, my husband) or authors I read a lot or political figures. But there was no way I could get Josh’s voice until I actually heard Greg & Danny’s podcasts because I needed to understand the mechanics, the pauses, and I needed to hear them comfortable doing it.

If you ever want an advance peek at Josh, let me know and I’ll shoot the manuscript over to you. 🙂

“They don’t notice at all.” Sounds like mine — don’t notice I asked them to turn off the TV until I walk over and turn it off.

I don’t believe that a stutter is contagious but I do agree that it can “rub off on you” similar to speaking with a foreign accent after traveling to a different region. I am currently dating a guy who has a mild stutter. I’ve always tend to stumble in my speech sometimes by repeating the last few words I say simply because I am trying to organize my thoughts, but today I actually got stuck on a single syllable a few times. It concerned me which led me to now research stuttering.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2022.
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