or stammering or dysphemia

Speech defect affecting the rhythm and fluency of speech, with involuntary repetition of sounds or syllables and intermittent blocking or prolongation of sounds, syllables, and words.

Stutterers consistently have trouble with words starting with consonants, first words in sentences, and multisyllable words. Stuttering has a psychological, not a physiological, basis, tending to appear in children pressured to speak fluently in public. In earlier times, stutterers were subjected to often torturous efforts to cure them. Today it is known that about 80% recover without treatment, usually by early adulthood. This probably results from increased self-esteem, acceptance of the problem, and consequent relaxation. See also speech therapy.

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also called  Stammering, or Dysphemia,  

      speech defect affecting the rhythm and fluency of speech and characterized by involuntary repetition of sounds or syllables and the intermittent blocking or prolongation of sounds, syllables, and words.

      Stutterers can predict 95 percent of the words over which they will stutter in reading aloud a given passage. Supposedly taking their cue from past difficulties, they anticipate difficulty with certain words, and the avoidance behaviour provoked in this way actually produces the stuttering. Stutterers consistently have difficulty with certain types of words: those beginning with consonants, initial words in sentences, content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, opposed to function words like pronouns and prepositions), and words of several syllables. Since these are also the types of words that produce hesitation in normal speakers, there seems to be some link between stuttering and normal disfluency (pauses, repetition).

      Although stuttering tends to reappear in some families, studies show that the slight hereditary bias is due to a neurological predisposition or to environmental factors rather than to a genetic trait. Stutterers show no organic defect, and the common idea that forcibly changing handedness causes stuttering is a misconception. Rather, any situation in which too much attention is paid to a child's normal speech disfluency seems to produce the imperfections that are so much feared. Thus stuttering tends to appear when a child's parents anxiously overreact to normal pauses and repetition—which may also explain the tendency of the stutterer to be an only child or to have no siblings close in age. Cultural attitudes toward fluency can also increase the likelihood of stuttering; e.g., the Igbo (Ibo) people of West Africa, who prize public-speaking ability, have a rate of stuttering almost three times the world average (about 1 percent of most populations stutter). The fact that five times as many boys as girls stutter in Western culture may be linked to greater performance pressure put on males.

      In Roman times, stutterers were thought to be possessed by evil spirits that had to be exorcised. In the Middle Ages the tongue, thought to be the source of the problem, was tortured with hot irons and spices. Today we know that about 80 percent of stutterers recover with no treatment whatsoever, usually in early adulthood or adolescence. Recovery is probably the result of increased self-esteem, acceptance of the problem and consequent relaxation.

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Universalium. 2010.

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