Unlocking Fluent Speech with Word Linkage and Holding Tones


In the context of stuttering, a “crutch” is a term used to describe various techniques or strategies that people who stutter (PWS) use to help manage and mitigate their stuttering. Crutches are not a “cure” for stuttering but rather a set of tools that individuals can employ to make their speech more fluent and less challenging. These crutches can provide temporary relief from stuttering and help boost a person’s confidence in their ability to communicate effectively.

Stuttering is a complex speech disorder that often leads to hesitation, frustration, and self-doubt. Lee G. Lovett’s “How to Stop Stuttering & Love Speaking” offers valuable insights and techniques to break free from the chains of stuttering. In this blog post, we will explore Crutch #10 – the power of word linkage and holding tones in achieving fluent speech.

The Four Elements of Stuttering

To understand how word linkage and holding tones can be game-changers, it’s essential to grasp the four elements that contribute to stuttering: hesitation, thinking a word, syllable, or letter, fearing it, and forcing it. These elements create what Lovett refers to as the “stutter-habit-chain.” Stutterers often find themselves trapped in this cycle, making it difficult to speak fluently.

However, some stutterers, like the one who “never thought words,” may experience random repetition and blocking. Lovett points out that even they have benefited from word linkage. The technique of linking words aims to disrupt this stutter-habit-chain and eliminate the spaces between words or syllables, leaving no room for stutters.

Softly Singing Your Way to Fluency

To illustrate the effectiveness of this technique, Lovett shares an example of a student who stuttered severely throughout his life. By employing word linkage, this student softly sang his way to fluency. Lovett emphasizes that softly humming through words, without a melody or vibrato, can also yield the same result and remain completely undetectable.

The Role of Spontaneity in Achieving Fluency

A fundamental concept in overcoming stuttering is spontaneity, which involves speaking without planning or hesitation. Lovett underscores that the first key to achieving fluency is spontaneity, and the way to reach that goal is by speaking immediately.

Speaking immediately requires speaking before you’ve fully formulated your thoughts. This is how fluent speakers naturally communicate, but for individuals with stuttering, it may take practice. To instill the habit of speaking immediately, one must engage in recorded drills, responding to words, and shifting between voice registers, among other exercises. Gradual exposure to pressure situations is crucial, with the aim of avoiding negative experiences that can reinforce stuttering.

Drills and Practice

Practical drills play a significant role in achieving immediate speech. Lovett introduces “Repeat Drills,” in which he encourages individuals to repeat words as fast as they can. The goal is to speak immediately. Another approach is the “Word Association Drills,” where participants must say different words with no right or wrong answers. The focus is on speaking immediately.

Immediate answers result in reduced or eliminated stuttering, while hesitation tends to lead to stuttering. Lovett emphasizes that most individuals can benefit from these drills, though some may need to incorporate humming or over-modulation to succeed.

Word Linkage: A Crutch for Fluent Speech

Word linkage is a powerful technique that differs from speaking immediately. It involves running words together, dropping word endings, and speaking several words as if they were connected into a continuous stream. Word linkage does not necessitate speaking rapidly; the focus is on connecting words and syllables without any hesitations or breaks.

Holding a tone through the words can make word linkage easier. If you can produce a continuous hum, you can use it as a conveyor belt to carry your words and overcome blocks.

Breaking the Fear of First Words

Overcoming the fear of stuttering often begins with tackling the first word or syllable in a sentence. Speaking immediately and using word linkage can help in avoiding a second feared word. Speaking in short bursts of one to seven words can further simplify communication, making it easier for individuals with stuttering.

Word Linkage as a Panacea

For some individuals who stutter severely and find it challenging to say even a single word, word linkage serves as a panacea. By linking words and syllables, they create speech with momentum, leaving no room for stuttering to manifest. Holding a tone, such as a hum, can further enhance this technique. Word linkage is achievable at various speeds, and the key is to eliminate hesitations between words and syllables.

For a more significant impact, bringing the humming sound from the abdomen, similar to how a singer produces sound, can make word linkage even more effective. It reinforces the momentum and minimizes hesitations.

Word Linkage: A Boon for Severe Stutter-Blockers

Word linkage is particularly effective for those who struggle to say most words due to severe stuttering and blocking. Modulating speech passionately or changing voice registers can open the floodgates of speech. Word linkage then serves to keep those gates wide open. Using multiple crutches simultaneously, including word linkage and holding tones, can work best in many situations, provided they are practiced until mastered.

In Conclusion

Word linkage and holding tones are powerful crutches that offer individuals with stuttering a path to fluent speech. These techniques disrupt the stutter-habit-chain by eliminating hesitations and creating speech with momentum. Through practical drills, speaking immediately, and the continuous practice of these techniques, individuals can liberate themselves from the chains of stuttering and achieve confident and fluent speech. By embracing these methods, individuals with stuttering can break free from their self-imposed limitations and embrace a future of confident and effective communication.

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