Friday, January 9, 2015

The Case of the Very Strange Speech Impediment

I told my husband how a former boyfriend called me "Structure." It was his pet name for me, and yes, it was odd. That boyfriend thought I said the word "Structure" in a strange way and then he would imitate me, really enunciating the consonants in the word.


I thought it was just a bit of silliness. I didn't really think it was a real thing. Maybe a harmless exaggeration on what was a hardly noticeable trait.

But when I told my husband the story, he laughed.

"Yeah, you really do chew up the consonants in that word."

We both chuckled and I filed it under "Even More Charming Quirks for Mandy." I figured the way I said "Structure" was similar to the way I organized objects on restaurant tables or the way I obsessed about my appearance. Quirky. Odd. But totally not a real problem.

As the years have gone by, I've obviously admitted to myself that I do in fact have an eating disorder and I do have OCD. I thought my weird behaviors and thoughts were just that … little oddities that I could control if I really wanted to.

But now I admit that these things are well outside the realm of my control and are most definitely not "normal." And I'm fine with that. I figured "Structure" was something I did intentionally and that I could stop it if I really wanted to.

It came up again the other day and I decided to put an end to the charade. I needed to prove to myself and my husband that I could say "Structure" like a normal person. I mean, between the OCD and the eating disorder, my neuroses plate is full.

"Teach me how to say 'structure' right."

"Are you serious?" my husband started laughing immediately and closed his eyes.

"C'mon. I mean it. What am I doing wrong? STRUCK-TURE. STRUCK-TURE. What's wrong with that?"

"It sounds like your chewing the letters. You're really getting right up in those consonants. Relax your mouth a little."

"SCHTRUCKTURRRRRE." I looked at him hopefully. He started laughing again.

"You're pushing it too far to the front of your mouth or something. Just say, 'structure."


"Oh my god, you really love those consonants," he started chuckling again.

"Stop it! I want to fix it! SCHTRUCKTURRRE. SCHTRUCTURRRRE."

"Stop saying it. You're just saying it the same way over and over again. Try to soften the consonants."


"Now you're whispering it."


"Now you're making an insane face. What are you doing?"

I'm trying to change the shape of my mouth when I say it. SSSSSSSTRUCKTURRRRE."

"You look like an crazy person. Stop grimacing. Put less emphasis on the Ts and the Rs."


"Now you're whispering and grimacing. I think you have too much of an "SCH" sound in there."


"Now you're hissing like a snake."


"Now you've dropped all the vowels."




"No. Just let it go."


"It's cute. Just leave it alone."




"It's not working."

At this point, our four-year-old daughter walked in the room.

"Hey Grace, say STRUCTURE!" I said.

"SCHTRUCTURRRRRRR!" she said back, joyfully.

"Oh god, no," whispered my husband.

And I felt oddly satisfied. Like I'd passed something on of myself. I will live on in the consonants of my progeny.


  1. This is totally the type of exchange my wife & I would have too... in bed, late at night... when I'm really tired & all I want to do is go to sleep.

  2. I feel like this post deserved a Youtube video with some audio evidence. And say this three times fast: "The punctured juncture of the textured fractured structure ruptured and ushered Tucker the trucker into the picture."

  3. For what it worth, I say SCHTRUCKTURRRRRRE too. So you are not alone. It is your Western PA roots.

    1. I wondered if Pittsburgh had anything to do with this.

  4. Maybe you should move to the south for a bit, you learn how to de-emphasize all kinds of letters....

  5. I have an accent and any and most words are usually butchered by accident. So don't feel left out, I know for sure that consonants are quite chewy and as long as you get the point across, in the end it's all that matters.

  6. Peeing myself. Our quirks are what make us uniquely us. Stop. Ok not totally because it's good comedy.

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  8. I had a similar conversation with an old girlfriend, who insisted I pronounced the word 'roof' as 'rough'.

    I didn't know what she was talking about. I mean, the whole thing was over my head. You know?

  9. My wife has that same issue with the word 'kitten.' She can't just fire off "kit'n" like the rest of us. No, she has to give it a POW somehow. She pronounces the hell out of it so that it comes out "Kit-TEN" and makes her sound like an old English nanny. I'm pretty sure our little black kitten thinks she has two names, Kit Ten. Anyway, if your children all say it the way you say it then that means you are slowly building a consortium, a small army who agree with you in how it should be said. If they all have children, too, and their children say it your way then eventually, after a few generations, you'll be in the majority and everyone else will have to change. So then you WIN!

  10. Hands up everyone who, after reading this post, had to try out "structure" for themselves. Even reading it phonetically Mandy, I couldn't see a problem with how you pronounce it.

    Some English words are just fun. There's the "right" way to pronounce things (by "right" I mean accepted vernacular everyday usage), then there's the "old English schoolmarm" way of pronouncing it.

    My daughter just hates certain sounds, as do I. Sometimes we'll use those sounds in conversation, until we're both giggling.

    Me: "sweetie, do you have an ISS-YOU with meeting me then?"
    Her: "I don't think so Dad. You'll have to let me check my SHED-YOU'LL.

  11. Stuff like this just makes you more intereschting.