Sliding Jaw on /R/

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I have an elementary client who figured out how to say R all by herself, but she shifts her jaw to one side to accomplish it. I have tried to get her to stop lateralizing the jaw, but then she can’t produce R. Should I worry about this?

I would not try to take her away from what she has achieved on her own. She is proud of it!

Instead, let her keep producing the R with the jaw lateralization for now. Stabilize the acoustic quality like this for weeks/months.  Then, down the road and when you feel that the time is right, have her look in the mirror and decide for herself if she wants to speak with her jaw sliding to the side for the rest of her life.

The Effect of this Problem

There is a political talk guy on cable news who does this –– Dick Morris.  He slides his jaw to the left on every R he makes.  It is soooooo distracting and takes away from his message.  It is not “wrong” per se, because the acoustic quality of R is there, but the elocutionists never would have stood for it.  You might have your client watch this fellow online.  He is everywhere on YouTube.

Minor visual elements like this are very distracting to the listener.  An SLP can see what the person is doing wrong.  But the average person simply thinks that the speaker talks funny and therefore must not be very smart.

A Message to Celebrities

By the way, if you are Dick Morris and are reading this, CONTACT ME!  I can help you with this.  You are far too smart of a guy to be burdened with this minor speech error.

And the rest of you celebrities with minor but very distracting speech errors… You know who you are… CALL ME!

And all you young female actresses in films, television, and commercials who are speaking with that awful GLOTTAL FRY…   STOP IT!  It’s not cute or sexy.  You are ruining your voice.  You will have very little voice left by the time you are in your fifties.  You depend on your voice for your livelihood, for goodness sakes.

Get thee to a voice specialist!   Many excellent speech-language pathologists and vocal coaches can help you find your real voice so you can speak like the grown intelligent women that you are.

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