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.

8 thoughts on “Sliding Jaw on /R/”

  1. Dick Morris had cancer on his tongue and does this to be able to make the sounds that have been affected by the surgical removal of part of his tongue. I find your stupid comment more disturbing than his jaw slide. You might have done a little research (like a quick Google search) before offering him help that he probably wouldn’t take. I know you’re the last person I’d go to.

    1. Charlotte, I agree. This “professional” is not very professional AT ALL. Perhaps she would like to analyze my CAPS!

    2. Amen! Thanks for stating truth. I’ve wondered but at least realized he’s overcoming a problem with his speech. I didn’t know about the cancer but remember a few years ago he was having extensive dental work done. Probably reconstruction. Seems like a sweet guy and very intelligent 😉

  2. Our country is in great need of brave problem solving people to stand for righteousness. Dick Morris is clearly one of those very brave problem solving heros for US pressing on in spite of the cancer that would have shut up a careless and cowardly problem pointer outer like you.

  3. THANK YOU! Not every “defect” needs fixing; some just need compassion.This would certainly be the case for a disease or injury that has disfigured you . ‘ve always admired Mr Morris for his intellect, ‘ll admire him more now for his bravery & fortitude. He goes on camera knowing he no longer looks “his best”. I tend to hide in the house if I have a “bad hair day.” NOTHING BUT RESPECT, DICK!

  4. To the commenter about Dick Morris. He had cancer of the tongue and they had to remove part of his tongue according to what I have read. I see someone has already pointed this out. He can’t help it. I sympathize because I had extensive cervical neck surgery about a year and nine months ago and have partial paralysis of the 12th cranial nerve which controls speech and swallowing. I had very good diction and my speech is different now. I am well aware of it as I am quite sure he is too. I find it sooooooo annoying when someone does not find out all the facts.

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