the king’s speech

A movie about King George VI is soon to be released in North America (December 10 in Canada), which centers around his stammer, and his successful way of dealing with it in a job that turned out to require lot of public speaking. He worked with speech pathologist Lionel Logue to overcome the problem. You can listen to a recording of a famous Christmas address of his given in 1939 here (it takes a little while before the recording starts playing).

I’m looking forward to it. After struggling at least until the age of 17 with a mild stammer, or in my case rather a problem with initiating speaking (which very rarely still haunts me today), I’m always fascinated/mortified by depictions of the issues you have to deal with, the embarrassment and the pressure when all eyes and ears are on you, but nothing comes out. A big movie can only help creating some awareness.

Speaking on the phone and speaking foreign languages was always a particular challenge. The stammer was the main reason why I had to give up learning Latin after a few weeks, which I had optionally started to take in my highschool at age 15–there was something about the situation in that class room that made it completely impossible for me to speak. It may just have been a combination of the fact that it was a new group of people, many not familiar with my speech disorder (and me not familiar with them knowing about it), and that the problem was particularly strong at the time in general. It fluctuated quite a bit, and I never knew why.

A few years later it was all but gone. Maybe the reason was that I started to play the guitar and sing along to it, which I didn’t do for therapeutic reasons, but it may have been a perfect therapy. It requires a level of motor coordination while vocalizing that went far beyond the exercises a speech pathologist had taught me many years earlier, and which never seemed to make a big difference, except that I found them very embarrassing.

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