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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Talking with bitten tongue

   
Author Topic: Talking with bitten tongue
LDWriter2
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Just decided that my MC in the novel I'm finishing has bitten her tongue hard enough to bleed some. If so than she most probably would have problems talking in a way that people can understand her. That could add a spot of humor in a serious situation and it goes along with Murphy's Law in her life, but I'm not sure how to write out someone conversing with an injured tongue.

Is there a web site or book that could help with that? I know of a web site with accents but I would be surprise if that they had that "accent".

Oh, an aside here but I just had an idea, going along with some of the books about Death's daughter and other such tales. Not sure if it would be a story or novel. The problem is that it would more than likely be light hearted and I'm not sure if I can do a whole light hearted book.


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Owasm
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You can do a little phonetic work by talking and holding your tongue. Then you can figure out how to mush up a few words (don't do too many or your accent will be unintelligible) to give the reader an impression of the bitten tongue.
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enigmaticuser
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A whole lighthearted book would be a challenge. I'm eyeing that goal about 4 stories down the way. One thing I think is that a light hearted book doesn't mean no somber moments. Like Marley and Me.

As for an accent, if the reader knows this has happened, I think it could be done by omitting the...tongue sounds. "Ai han'h spea nnormaly..." hmm, as I try this out, I find most of the sounds are still there except for hard sounds, its like a deaf person speaking (no offense). No accentuation/stressing of sounds. So things become more slurred.

I'd be interested to read how you hear it?


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LDWriter2
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Thanks to both of you.


Hmm, sounds like "I Canth ta'k." to me. I guess I could cutout the L sounds.


As to the light hearted story-novel. I know bad things can still happen. I'm reading two series that I consider LH. And the one novel I referenced about Death's daughter (Actually, there might be two of them... series that is) is light hearted. I haven't read any but the blurb on the back cover makes it sound that way. Death is run like a Business and his daughter doesn't want to work in a cubicle. There's more to it than that but I think that is what it boils down to.

There's a word for turning non living concepts into living beings but I can't think of it right now. But Death isn't the only concept that has had children lately.

But the two series I'm reading both have people getting killed and worse. One, I think, is losing its light heartiness even though it's still some what there.


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Natej11
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Well if you look at it from a linguistic perspective, you can rule out the sounds that would be least affected.

K and G are glottals, made when the tongue obstructs the back of the throat, it's pretty hard to damage that part of the tongue so they'd be okay.

The bilabials (made with your lips) and labiodentals (lips and teeth) don't involve the tongue at all, so P, B, M, F, and V would be out.

That leaves the alveolars (just behind the teeth), velars (slightly farther back than the alveolars), and glides (tongue doesn't touch anything, merely restricts air flow while voiced). So L, R, S, Sh, Z, Zh, T, D, N, and hard and soft Th would all be affected. Of those the alveolars deal with the tip of the tongue and the velars slightly farther back, so it becomes more a matter of where on the tongue you bit. Glides would be affected depending on swelling, with R more so than L if the injury is farther back, and less so if it's near the front.

Going a bit deeper, the stops, which are usually quick taps of the tongue, lips, or teeth, might become sluggish. Because T and D, as alveolar, require the point of the tongue, they'd probably slide naturally into hard and soft Th if the tongue swelled.

Hope this helps. It's been years since I took my linguistics course so I may be a bit rusty.

[This message has been edited by Natej11 (edited September 18, 2011).]


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KayTi
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Cover it in dialog tags and misunderstood bits by other characters.

... she lisped past her swollen tongue...
"He held Sue's hand?"
"No, he took her to BAND" she tried to enunciate each syllable so she could be understood past her swollen tongue.

However, being a champion tongue-biter myself, the swelling is exceptionally rarely a factor in speech. The bigger issue is that once you bite any part of your mouth, it gets in the way of eating and you continue to reinjure that cheek/tongue part over and over (or at least I do!)


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mythique890
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I agree, the sounds involved would depend on which part of the tongue was bitten.

But, as far as glides, might not L be more affected than R, as the tongue actually makes contact with the alveolar ridge when it forms L? Not sure, just wondering. And if there was a lot of damage, might forming tense vowels also be a problem?

Personally, I don't think biting one's tongue would affect their speech much unless it were severely damaged. However, I'm not an expert. And, really, readers probably aren't going to care how phonetically accurate you are, they'll just be going, "ouch!"


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LDWriter2
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Well, my MC bit her tongue hard enough to make it bleed. Not for long but enough for her to know it was bleeding.


As to what she sounds like. There's a certain radio ad for a certain bank. The person talking gets a paper cut on her tongue. As a result she sounds kinda like she is making half sounds with some letters. I've heard that type of talking before, sometimes when someone has had dental work.


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Robert Nowall
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I'd be careful of trying to write out too much dialog with the character having a speech impediment...if the casual reader doesn't grasp the meaning of it offhand, he might be off-put by it all. (There are lots of labored attempts at this, or accents, all over literature...it used to be a more popular feature in writing but fell out of favor sometime after World War II...)
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Reziac
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Suck an ice cube, then try your dialog, and see firsthand how it's affected.
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LDWriter2
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Thanks for the advice with the ice cube, I can see how that could work.


And thanks to everyone else who have given suggestions and discourses.


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aspirit
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A few weeks ago, I bit my tongue hard enough that it bled off and on for the rest of the day, and it looked rather scary for a couple of days afterwards. I could talk normally until my mouth hurt too much from the swelling (and tasted too metallic from the blood) to want to continue.

The funny aspect of tongue-biting is how the biter reacts. I probably looked like a 1990's Jim Carrey for a moment.

quote:
There's a word for turning non living concepts into living beings but I can't think of it right now.

It's personification.


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