Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wh-wh-whats up with that?

Contributed by Auggie
Some people worry that cartoon violence will have long-lasting effects on the children who watch said cartoons. Relax. I haven’t seen one case of a coyote being tricked into a 1000 foot canyon plunge only to have a boulder land on his head after surviving the fall. And besides, you can’t even buy an ACME instant hole on the market, as Jack Hartley can attest. I would be more concerned about the long-range effects of other cartoon characters such as Porky Pig.

I haven’t taken a speech class lately but I seem to have missed the transition where stuttering went from a disorder that people struggle to overcome, to a deliberate speaking technique. The recent movie The King’s Speech helps illustrate how far back individuals strived to overcome a stuttering disorder to improve their public speaking. King George VI thought it important enough to work with a speech therapist. Why then do some people presumably stutter intentionally? I’ve noticed this trend in my personal and work interactions, and also on television. Exhibit A is Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News who regularly appears on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters Sunday mornings. Lupica is one of the most prominent sports reporters in America and as far as I know he doesn’t have a speaking disorder, but you would never know from listening to him t-t-t-try to make a point on the show.

In case anyone else has noticed this annoying intentional stuttering trend and is wondering what’s up, I have a few theories (big surprise) which are summarized below.

1) Extend floor time. Here the speaker is basically saying “it’s my turn to speak and I demand equal time even if I don’t have enough to say so I’ll extend my time by stuttering”. It seems to work.

2) Accentuate a point. If you are familiar with social norms around modern day group discussion, you know that interruptions occur about once every 4.8 seconds. Consequently, the speaker has to whiz through his points like an auctioneer on meth. Any pause is akin to a vacuum, and we all know that nature abhors a vacuum. So, if you want to emphasize a particular point, simply stutter your way through it to give your audience time to absorb the point while foiling potential interruptions. Brilliant.

3) Laziness. This explains a lot of other things as well.

If only the King had known


  1. Jeff Ryer5/28/2011

    Comparing the cartoon violence of your era (Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd) to that of today, I don't see how you can not be concerned. Same with video games of yesteryear with the likes of Call of Duty - a real life-like simulation of killing people, complete with blown off body parts and trails of blood. I just don't see how a rational person thinks that more and more violence, with more real life-like simulations, can be at best, neutral. I say it is neutral to negative. I really wish that my children, and all children, could grow up today with the TV shows and outdoor centric environment that I did.

  2. Auggie5/31/2011

    The cartoon violence comment was simply a jocular lead in to the main point. The blog was not about cartoon violence, nor was it about video game violence. Although those are good topics. Sorry for the confusion.

  3. I thought your post was great, this though coming from a fellow sufferer of the "speaking to inanimate objects" disorder!

  4. I've noticed when I am engaged with a dominant talker, who rarely lets me get a peep in, I tend to jumble my words and stutter when I speak probably because 1) I'm excited to be given 5 seconds to finally say something, 2) I want to get it out before I am interrupted.

    It wouldn't surprise me that sports reporters do this for the same reasons, especially when you have 11 people sitting around a desk to divulge what happened in the last half of one basketball game.

  5. Anonymous1/25/2012

    he doesn't do it intentionally

  6. David P. French5/13/2012

    Lupica is an annoying stutterer.

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