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“The King’s Speech” garnered four golden statues at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, including the Oscar for Best Actor for Colin Firth’s riveting portrayal of King George VI. The film’s depiction of George VI’s lifelong struggle with stuttering has brought a renewed awareness to the speech disorder that affects over sixty-eight million people worldwide. What is the origin of this disorder and how did it get its name?

Stutter, or the Greek alalia syllabaris, is onomatopoeic – a word that suggests the sound that it describes – derived from the Middle English stutte or “stop.” The evolution of the word can be found in John Skelton’s 1529 verse: “Her fellow did stammer and stut.”

Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is fractured by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds and syllables. Stuttering is usually associated with verbal repetition; it is also defined as an irregular hesitation before speech – commonly referred to as “blocks.”  The disorder is believed to have its origin in both genetics and brain development. While the mechanisms of stuttering aren’t generally about the physical production of putting thoughts into words, the stress and anxiety experienced by a person may exacerbate the problem. The disorder is variable – in other words, depending on the situation, the stutter may be more or less severe.

Winston Churchill stuttered – as did Marilyn Monroe and James Earl Jones. Jazz musician Scatman John wrote the song “Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)” to help children overcome stuttering.

Do you have questions about any of the other medical aspects of language or speech? Let us know, below.

Bonds’ shaky support threatens Crane biz park

Indianapolis Business Journal August 7, 2006 | Schnitzler, Peter During his first months in office, Gov. Mitch Daniels’ top priority was engineering a stay of execution for the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, 90 miles southwest of Indianapolis. Losing its 5,200 employees and contractors would have been a devastating blow to the region.

Daniels’ lobbying effort in Washington, D.C., was so successful that the Association of Defense Communities last month recognized him as “2006 Public Official of the Year.” But troubles with local financing for a new business park on the outskirts of Crane threaten to set back the progress. site crane federal credit union

Leaders in Greene, Daviess and Martin Counties have been attempting to build the West Gate at Crane park so that private companies can leverage the base’s capacity as a high-tech engineering hub. Thanks to bonds underwritten by Daviess County, they’ve already broken ground on a building for the first tenant, Gaithersburg, Md.-based defense contractor EG&G. The project is expected to bring 70 jobs. Last month the Crane Federal Credit Union announced plans to move its headquarters there, too.

But Martin County residents aren’t sure they want to underwrite construction of two more buildings in the park, both slated for lease by San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp. The debate has already run across two public meetings. On Aug. 7, the Martin County Council will meet to consider whether to authorize a $4.5 million bond issue. Some Martin County officials have questioned whether SAIC, an enormous defense contractor, needs assistance from local taxpayers.

“This is a big deal for Martin County to take on a project of this size and magnitude. People are taking their time and being very deliberative about it,” said Martin County Economic Development Director Jerry Ott. “If the bond issue fails, it certainly causes lots of difficulties and problems for the project. We don’t even like to think or talk about that.” If West Gate at Crane can successfully land SAIC, it stands to gain 100 jobs immediately and even more over time, Ott said. If approved, the bonds would be repaid from taxes raised through a local tax-increment financing district and from an economic-development tax Martin County has levied against personal incomes.

SAIC’s jobs are just the kind economically depressed southern Indiana needs, Ott said.

“It’d be huge, particularly with the average wages they’re talking about in the neighborhood of $45,000 per person,” he said.

Mike Gentile, executive director of Southern Indiana Business Alliance Inc., expects the bond issue to pass. Now that the Crane base’s future has been secured, he said, it’s been much easier to attract business interest in the West Gate park.

“I think the focus has changed from saving the base to growing the base, and the tech park is an integral part of that,” Gentile said. “Momentum is building up.” The Daniels administration hasn’t lost sight of the project. It’s seeking a consultant to prepare an economic development plan for the region around Crane. According to a request for proposals from the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Crane’s scientific expertise is ready and available for private-sector companies.

Ultimately, officials hope to diversify the region’s economy beyond Crane and its direct defense contractors. The base’s engineers are trained to assist with university research and development, and technology transfer to private firms.

“The goal of this analysis is to lay the foundation for an economic diversification plan for this region that will result in an orderly transition from economic dependence upon defense spending to a more balanced mix of private and public sector employment,” the RFP read. here crane federal credit union

For southwest Indiana, West Gate’s success is crucial. The Crane base has twice before been slated for closure. One day, the military will reconfigure its assets again. When that time comes, Ott said, landlocked Indiana will need to show Crane’s mission is still vital to the Navy and its contractors.

Increasing Crane’s business ties could improve its odds to remain open. The base’s primary mission is to develop new high-tech weapons systems. Such systems often have their origins in the private sector.

And next time, the governor might not be able to lobby another stay of execution.

“There will be other studies that will happen, and Crane will have to stand that muster again” Ott said. “The tech park won’t be the sole answer for that issue. But it’s one of the many pieces of the puzzle we’re trying to put in place to ensure that Navy base continues to be here.” Reinventing Crane What: Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center Location: 90 miles southwest of Indianapolis Size of Crane base: 98 square miles Total base employment: about 5,200 Primary business services: technology transfer; failure and material analysis, research and development; environmental testing; process engineering; prototyping Annual Indiana economic impact: $1.5 billion Planned on-site business park: West Gate at Crane Announced tenants: EG&G, a defense contractor; Crane Federal Credit Union Source: West Gate at Crane; Crane Technology Inc.

Schnitzler, Peter

55 Comments

  1. Darren Knaus -  January 3, 2012 - 12:15 am

    I’m a stutterer. I wish I’d been born mute.

    People don’t make fun of mutes.

    But people think it’s okay to ridicule people who stutter.

    Reply
  2. Priya -  April 19, 2011 - 6:27 am

    This is some great piece of information! What I liked most was the “scatman” fact… Supercool!

    This is of great help to me as I train in linguistics…

    Reply
  3. Will Bain -  March 26, 2011 - 9:23 pm

    To Rebekah:

    Don’t worry. I used to shutter quite a lot when I was your age, too, but I mostly outgrow it. Now that I’m grown up, I hardly ever shutter, and now it’s mostly only when I’m among friends (oddly enough).

    When you feel under stress about talking to others, just take a deep breath and speak slowly. Not only will you keep your shutter under control, but you’ll been seen as very wise, too. ;-]

    – Will

    Reply
  4. hksche2000 -  March 26, 2011 - 1:00 pm

    Speech and, above all, breathing exercises are basic to any therapy for (predominantly genetic) stutter conditions. That’s why singing reduces stutter not just because the lyrics are rehearsed but also because of superior breathing technics that harmonize speech and breathing.

    Remember Demosthenes (=Peoplepower), the great orator/demagogue of ancient Greece and his proverbial Philippicae. In his youth, D had a feeble voice and a stutter, nary the best preconditions to become an orator. (His)story has it that he would go to the shore, put a pebble on his tongue and practice his speech to overcome his stutter and develop a booming voice to match the noise of the breaking surf.

    Several blogs attest to anxiety, stress, pain et al. adrenaline enhancing mechanisms as a root cause of stuttering. Small Beta-1 blocker doses (e.g. Atenolol) frequently will help combat stage fright. They can preempt or reduce stutter and break the vicious cycle of stress-stutter-more stress-more stutter.
    Serotonin(S)-mediated self confidence, too, may ameliorate a stutter condition and S-reuptke inhibitors may well be worth a try. Not all stutterers are created equal and different methods of treatment may apply to different types of this dysphasia.

    Reply
  5. Flintstone -  March 26, 2011 - 7:21 am

    My friend has a child who has been diagnosed with autism. At 3yrs of age he doesn’t speak yet. (He once said a-e -i -o-u ) Anyone out there got anything positive to say?

    Reply
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