Speech Impediments By Edward Hoagland and David Sedaris

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Two Authors: same struggle In the short stories, “On Stuttering,” by Edward Hoagland, and “Me Talk Pretty,” by David Sedaris, the authors discuss how they dealt with their speech impediments. They wrote about the way they handled their difficulties with speech, the different strategies they used, and how their limitations affected how they felt about themselves. Although the two author’s handicaps were not identical, they both used similar approaches to overcome them. After 60 years of stuttering, Hoagland reminisces about his struggles and triumphs to overcome his stuttering.

While attending school, he learned that, “Life can become a matter of measuring the importance of anything you have to say. ” He felt that it was better to say nothing or chuckle at everyone else’s conversation instead of subjecting them to watching him struggle to expel his opinion. He learns at a young age to be a good listener, but found it hard not to say anything when he knew more about the subject or if he disagreed with the speaker. Over time he realized that self-confidence could reduce his stuttering.

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If he became angered, sexually aroused or received affection his stuttering was almost diminished. As he developed relationships and trust, he could talk without difficulty. There was even a girl that he developed a relationship with that ceased his stuttering. However, as the relationship started to fail, he again started to stutter. He compares it to a sort of football game he is playing in his head, with the tacklers living there too. If he pauses to figure out how to describe something, this will give them time to pull him down.

Hoagland still refused to let his stuttering control his life. He is able to get in to the Army by telling them that he only stuttered because he was “nervous,” and goes on to become a college professor. There are times when his stuttering caused him to be scared, such as when his daughter thought this is the way she should talk, or at a wedding when he proposed a toast or had to say, “I do”. However, as he matured, his stuttering ceased to be a serious issue. After losing his sight for a short period of time, he realized that stuttering was just a lesser difficulty of life.

If he wanted to survive he would be forced to speak. It is at this point he realizes that he can speak without stuttering when he is forced to and he comes to terms that we all run into to obstacles we must overcome. Sedaris too struggles with a speech impediment. Although his handicap was not stuttering, he too finds it easier not to speak unless absolutely necessary. After moving to Paris, Sedaris returns to school where he must speak and understand French fluently. Unfortunately, he is anything but fluent. Sedaris knew that he would be expected to perform.

On his first day of school the teacher asked, “has everyone apzkiubjxow? ” “Who knows the alphabet? ” With this the students began introducing themselves alphabetically. The Two Polish Annas go first. The first Anna worked as a seamstress and hated the mosquito. The teacher replied, “I thought everyone loved the mosquito. ” As the teacher continued to ridicule the other students, Sedaris tries to think of an answer to what had become a trick question. Next it was the Yugoslavian girls turn. She was accused of master-minding a program of genocide.

When it was Sedaris’ turn, he made the critical mistake of assigning the wrong gender to both the typewriter and the floor waxer. His teacher continues to belittle the students one by one. Then, one afternoon his teacher, in perfect English says, “I hate you. I really, really hate you. ” Although Sedaris takes this personal, he takes comfort in knowing that his peers are also struggling. He becomes determined to create an identity for himself. He studies harder and puts in more time when he writes essays. After completing a sentence exercise, his self-confidence is destroyed and his fear has gone beyond the classroom.

Sedaris no longer wishes to stop for coffee, ask for directions or even go to the bank in fear he would have to engage in conversation. If the phone rang, he would just not answer it. When someone asks him a question he pretends to be deaf. On day in the hallway, Sedaris and his fellow students were engaged in a conversation. Sedaris refers to it as a “conversation commonly overheard in a refugee camp. ” As the students try to offer comfort to each other, one student tells another student that with much work someday they will talk pretty.

It was hard to believe that any of them would ever get better. One day the teacher compared spending a day with Sedaris to having a cesarean section. It was at this time he realized that he could understand every word. He still was not able to fluently speak the language, but he knew that this was the first step. After some time, Sedaris also comes to the conclusion that he not being able to speak fluently is not so serious and that over time he has been able to overcome his fears of speaking out and actually starts to understand the language.

Both Hoagland and Sedaris struggled with the fear of speaking aloud and being laughed at. After they both realize that there are ways to overcome their fears, including how they feel about themselves, and how to deal with the issue, they realize that these are just minor issues and that all people have things they must overcome. I believe that Hoagland dealt with not be able to communicate more easily than Sedaris. Hoagland addressed his stuttering and made those around him acknowledge it. In his triumphs he was able to get into the Army and even become a college professor.

With his increased confidence, he realized that when forced to speak he could do so without stuttering. Although Sedaris closed himself off from the public, he put extra effort in to overcoming his struggles. He also made light of the situation, and used humor to deal with it. With time and perseverance Sedaris was able to understand every word that his teacher spoke to him. It was only after Hoagland lost his sight that he realized his stuttering was not such a big thing and that he was able to speak without stuttering when he was forced to.

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Speech Impediments By Edward Hoagland and David Sedaris. (2019, May 02). Retrieved from


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