Monday, May 06, 1996

More on stuttering and Italian

Further remarks were made on the supposed effects of Italian vocal mannerisms on stuttering.

I can only re-iterate what I said above. It's fine to speculate on whether certain conditions in one's upbringing can have a negative effect on stuttering, but to immediately generalize them to an entire culture, without bringing in other aspects of that culture that could in fact have a positive effect is really misleading and potentially hurtful.

This is the same kind of attitude that has brought us Polish jokes, prejudice against African Americans etc. etc. AND, btw, prejudice against stutterers in general (how can you go through life with that kind of handicap without going bonkers? ... Either that, or you were bonkers to start with.. which is why you stutter...).

I came to this country at 16 (for one year) and then at 20 years of age as a student. I was absolutely shocked at the "image" Italians had, and at the general paternalistic attitude I saw towards them (us). For one thing, most Italian immigrants to North America, came, as might be expected, from a specific socio-economic stratum and specific ethnic areas, but, while I am willing to concede that some characteristics that have been pointed out may be prevalent in these circumstances, to make a leap to a presumed worsening of stuttering or one's psychological makeup ("broken"!) is, at the very least, highly questionable.

This level of "enquiry", if it can be so dignified, is not useful (careful comparative cultural studies might be), but I am spending time on this because, whoever is so willing and ready to classify as "broken" the few Italian stutterers they have met, should at least know of one whose only "broken" parts are his PALLE (Italians will understand...) with the pursuit of this line.

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