I think I have figured out why I can’t speak very well. I led quite an isolated childhood on a farm with my parents and later on my brother with whom I spoke our own language that we made up. Sure my grandparents et al came to visit me but when all you normally interact with is a cat, a dog, a herd of cows, a litter of pigs, a flock of sheep and fish to keep you company, your not going to learn a lot of human speech regardless of language. Fishermen don’t really count here as they were too infrequent. This could also possibly be why it took me till I was almost 2 to learn English but when I did learn it you couldn’t shut me up. Everybody who knows me understands that I have 2 basic forms of communication, 1st I’m really shy so I don’t say anything and I’m generally just listening and absorbing my current surroundings, 2nd full on verbal diarrhoea. This includes all sorts of inappropriate and personal things (think Aunt Voulla in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 1+2) but I’m trying to get better by having my conversational skills somewhere in the middle. (When the social anxiety has passed away).
The origin of this language inability only just occurred to me today after I’ve spent the day listening to various polyglots talking in about 30 different languages and how some are usually quite distinctive French, Spanish, German, Italian, I’m learning to understand some like Greek and Russian and others I had no idea what they were saying like Farsi, Icelandic, Hungarian. Listening is a key point in acquiring language with or without an accent but if you don’t hear it frequently enough your not going to be able to reproduce it correctly. This is one of the reasons why my Aspergers was never picked up as I can’t do imitations which is a classic autistic trait. I have a lazy mouth according to the speech therapist who treated me at 4 years old. A lot of good they did as I still on a daily basis, come across people who know me well and can’t understand me correctly even if they see me on a regular basis.
I also have quite sensitive ears and hearing and my husband is always amazed when he borrows my headphones to listen to the same music as me at how low the volume is as he can barely hear what I’m listening to. This means that I can quite easily be overwhelmed in social situations as I can be the stereotypical wall-flower but also my speech is very quiet but doesn’t sound anything like I think it does. In fact, to me, it sounds horrid and when I’ve done karaoke, it’s equivalent to nails scraping down a chalkboard it’s that bad. I even hate to leave voice mails as I know the receiver will not be able to decipher my words as my parents never can. My husband, on the other hand, has a beautiful singing voice that he rarely uses as he is too embarrassed most of the time.
Music is also not a thing I’m any good at because as well as being unable to sing nicely, I can’t play any musical instrument which you think I would be capable of with good hearing and a good memory as after all isn’t it just muscle memory? Even hearing or sight is not required as there are famous musicians that have neither. It’s however not a quality I possess so it is another way my speaking ability is impaired and I sound like a robot as I can’t differentiate my voice sufficiently to produce all of the different tones that are required for proper speech. Pronunciation and intonation or diction if you want the posh words that my dad would use to describe my current linguistic problems.
I’m also trying to improve my friendship skills here which is another reason why quite frankly I suck at talking and even my own parents have to tune back in to how I speak if I haven’t spoken to them in a while. I do fear for the millions of people that will have to encounter this from me over the coming years and all those that already have had to suffer, with my constantly changing accent, quiet voice and incoherent voice. It doesn’t seem to matter in which language I speak, the words that I choose or even how there arranged, the same inherent difficulties are there which I ‘m working hard to overcome but it’s an uphill struggle for the majority of the time. I only hope that people continue to have patience with me.