Thursday, May 02, 1996

Stuttering and "loud" cultures

Winston Purdy commented on the possible effect of "vocal aggressivenes" in some cultures on stuttering. In particular he said about Italians: " I have met several Italians who stutter and they are all very shy and appear broken as people."

There are three issues here:

1. Do different cultures affect how many people will end up stuttering?

2. Can Italian culture be fairly portrayed the way you have (including
Italian stutterers as "broken" people)

3. Assuming the "loudness" aspect is true in general (and not socioeconomic -
note also that having lots of vocals has nothing to do with loudness). Would
this automatically affect stuttering severity and/or rate in the population?

Here are my answers:

1. I have only heard evidence to the contrary (can someone help?)

2. I will admit that my mother tended to be loud (she came from the town where
Pavarotti was born...). Other people in my family, and my father's side were not. I am an Italian stutterer. I doubt anybody who has even known me would ever have viewed me as "broken". I certainly haven't!

Many aspects of Italian culture would in fact be very supportive. Strong familiy bonds and pride, display of emotion, hugging and physical affection. My mother (unfortunately) treated my stuttering like a bad habit I could get rid off, and that didn't help. On the other hand she never showed anything but pride in me. If anybody had made fun of me she would have given them a bloody nose right on the spot.

My father ignored my stuttering, loved me to pieces, and was my best friend.

Overall I feel my upbringing had bad points and good points... just about like everybody else, Italian or not.

3. I doubt very much that loudness would have any effect on stuttering. People adjust to whatever the accepted level is, and go on from there. We develop fear of words, sounds etc.. Having to say them loud or not added nothing to that fear in my experience.

Overall the notion of the effect of cultures on stuttering is interesting to explore, but one should, as always, be very careful with sweeping and superficial generalizations. There MAY be interesting information here... but one can also hurt sensitivities needlessly.

Ciao to all.

"Unbrokenly" yours,

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