I needed an interpreter, although I’m not sure I’d understand them if they understood him.

Imagine speaking, but never moving your tongue from the space it fills resting inside your bottom teeth.  What might have been intended as articulated words formed into sentences emerges as incoherent mush sprinkled with the occasional (very articulately spoken) profanity.

My parents were incredibly demanding of their offspring during our formative speaking years.  We grew up in a rural community, hearing the requisite vocabulary. Ain’t.  Youn’z.  D’j’all.  Your mother’s sister was your Ant.  Fix’n ta.. . . .basically, it’s safe to infer your favorite Jeff Foxworthy bit here.  My parents spoke to their children as adults.  There was no baby talk.  There were no ‘fishies’, ‘birdies’.  There were fish and birds.  We were not permitted to speak poorly or lazily.  I’m not making fun of speaking ‘southern’, as I am as capable as the next genteel woman of throwing out a “Hey Y’all!”.  I’m referring to something that is not an accent.  It is not a dialect.  Within the inarticulate mumbling are actual words, although in my experience those words are usually ‘sheeee-it’ or “Damn it ‘ooman'”.  It’s as if the lips and tongue don’t move at all.  Try saying a simple sentence without moving your tongue or lips.  It’s hard.

In the midst of our interaction my effort to understand and help turns to his frustration at my inability to understand him and respond.  The lazy mouth was not limited to him.  His wife and son were loudly attempting to talk over him with equal lack of formed verbage, all the while I am at a loss.  These were not hearing impaired people.  I regularly sign with our hearing impaired customers.  Again, not being insensitive here.  Having not encountered anything like this before, and in order to provide them service, I had to hear them, then attempt to form the same sounds (silently) in my own mouth.  It was incredibly difficult to not form words.  Eventually we found their solution and they left.

So lazy mouth is apparently a genuine speech impediment.  (Generally associated with substantial lisp which they didn’t have.) I will say once again that I do not intend to belittle or find humor in someones difficulties in life.  I wonder, however, if you can have lazy mouth syndrome and Tourette’s Syndrome simultaneously??  Because these folks, although unable to form understandable conversational words, were quite able to drop an f-bomb with incredible acuity.


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