My Kind of Stuttering

I don’t think I’ve ever really mentioned on here what kind of stuttering I do.

Here’s a handy chart that lists four of them.

I’ve almost always done prolongations and blocks. I’m not sure if I really do repetitions or not — I mean, if I’m trying to say a word, get the first syllable out and then get stuck on the second (a block), sometimes I’ll try the first syllable again. I might do this a few times.

I was just thinking … what’s worse, a prolongation or a block? Toss up, really. They both equally suck, I think. With a prolongation you just never know … when it’s going to end. And it’s the only thing you can think about. And the listener doesn’t know when it’s going to end (although who cares what they think, right? Right!). For me at least if I prolong on one specific sound during a conversation, it’ll get prolonged every single time during that same conversation. And if it’s a word I can’t avoid, it’s even more annoying.

For the blocks, they just create confusion. There’s a flow to every conversation. Until there’s not. And then there is! And then there’s complete silence for who-knows-how-long followed by a loss of eye contact, a change of subject, and a wondering of how many hours until lunch.

For the phone, (if given the choice … ha!) I’d rather have a prolongation than a block. At least then the listener knows you’re trying to queue something up. In person, I’d prefer a block because then the person can see you’re trying to say something.

The thing about insertions to me is that, well, don’t fluent people do this, too? I don’t think I use this as a stuttering/covert tool, really. I just use it to let someone know that I’m thinking. And that something is going to come out.

I think I’m going to have to pay really close attention over the next few weeks for these things and see what I’m really doing as far as insertions.


  1. Another word for insertions is interjections, and yes, every human on the planet uses them. Sometimes people who stutter demonstrate a higher frequency than fluent speakers. For everyone, fillers/interjections/insertions are used to help your brain catch up to your speech. With stuttering, though, they may also be used as a way to avoid/prevent/mitigate a stutter, which is a function not used by fluent speakers.

    Reducing the number of interjections in your speech is a very common skill practiced in executive coaching and general public speaking training. It’s not realistic to ever be at 0, but generally we perceive someone with minimal “ums” as more confident and knowledgeable than speakers who have lots of fillers. Maintaining conscious word choice and speaking slowly so your brain does not run out of words is a great thing to aim for, if you want to achieve more powerful and effective communication.

    I look forward to hearing your observations!

    • Katie,

      That definitely helps. So I’d say as someone who stutters, I’ve managed to get the number of fillers down to about the same level as someone who is fluent.

      I suppose that was done subconsciously on two levels … being more covert, of course, and then trying to appear more confident.

      I suspect that was triggered in high school when my classmates would give book reports, and my buddy and I would count the number of “ems,” and laugh about it.

      Overall I’d say my rate of speech in Saudi has slowed down. I speak with a lot of non-native English speakers, and so I find slowing down not only helps me stutter less, but them understand more.

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