Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Recess: How Luith Loth Hith Lithp

By his third year in the club, as he rehearsed his role of Sir Andrew Aguecheek, I noticed that Luis had almost entirely lost his lisp.

"Are you aware, Luis, that you used to have a small lisp and now it's gone?"

"What's that?"

"A lisp?"

"Yeah, what's that?"

"See, if I put my tongue a little bit between my front teeth and make an 's' sound, it comes out like a 'th' sound?"


"The tongue is misbehaving. It wants to hang around with the teeth but it's not supposed to and what you've done is train it to stay in its own yard."

"I did? I did that? Hey...cool on me!"

We share a high five.

"Ms. Ryane, how did I do that, anyway?"

I offer this exercise to any of you out there who are about to speechify, need to make a wedding toast or simply want your dog to pay attention.

This is one of the most efficient methods for warming up your articulators: the tongue, the teeth, the lips, the soft and hard palates and that ever-lazy jaw.

Drop your lower jaw, place your tongue all the way out on the lower lip and leave it there. The lower jaw and tongue will move as one piece to and from the upper lip.

Now pick up a newspaper, book, magazine...anything...and read some text aloud. Clearly, slooowly, click the consonants hard and make every word super-clear. Use a mirror to monitor that sneaky tongue. Don't let it slip back into the cave.

SpeeeeeK...slooowleee...anD...cleeerlllleee...moooV...the Jaaawww...uuuP...anD...doooowwN...uuuZZ...thoZZZ...ConnnsaannennTsss....

If you're doing this correctly, your jaw will hurt from the effort and you will sound like an idiot...but it's a small price to pay. If little kids can do this, so can you.

Take a small break, swallow and continue.

After three reads of the material, take your tongue back inside and read the text normally. Magic...clear enunciation.

Congratulations, you can now speak as professionally as young Luis.


  1. It works, boss!

  2. Love your natural ability to give kids a sense of mastery!

  3. They give me a sense of mastery...they make me believe I'm on the right track.


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