Speaking Slurganese

Speaking Slurganese

I am speaking a new language these days. I call it slurganese. And I didn’t even have to take lessons or purchase language learning CD’s to become fluent in it. The problem is that nobody else speaks the language the same way I do. What we have here is a failure to communicate.

For some reason my medications, namely Rytary, and my Deep Brain Stimulator, are conspiring against me to foul up the mechanisms that make speech possible. I speak something in my head but when it comes out of my mouth it is quite different, unintelligible in fact. In my eleventh year of having Parkinson’s disease, I am unable, at most times of the day, after medicating, to communicate easily with even my neurologist, his staff, and or anyone else around me.

Trying to order food on the phone

A few days ago I was trying to order sushi takeout from a local restaurant, for an in-house meeting with my ex-business partner. I called for take-out and tried to order a few things. I could not produce a single sentence that made any sense to any of the people who tried in vain to take my order. The third person finally said, “Sir, we cannot understand what you are saying, goodbye,” and he hung up, but not before I heard someone in the background say “I think he’s drunk.”

Needless to say, this was frustrating, so I hopped in the car and raced over to the restaurant to place the order in person. After burning through a couple of people at the front desk, I decided on a different course of action. I got out my phone, found an app that could translate written word to speech, and got the owner to listen to my phone say “I am sorry for this frustration, but I cannot speak properly due to a brain injury. I can hear and understand everything you are saying, however.” Part one solved. The second part was having the Korean workers at my sushi place understand perfectly spoken English, from my cell phone.

We got the food order completed, and we all had a good chuckle, because they knew that I now understood their communication struggles and they understood my struggle with slurganese.

Can’t buy a hot dog at the ball game

This wasn’t the first time my inability to communicate has caused a problem for me. Last year I was invited to see a baseball game with friends from our neighborhood. Mid-inning I jumped up and went looking for a hot dog. Suspecting that I might have bitten off more than I could chew, my neighbor came up to the hot dog stand where she found me struggling to get my hot dog order in. She stepped in and translated my slurganese to English, and placed my order for me. In that situation, a person who understood me and my speech defect, was there to help me out. I wondered how often that was going to happen again. Well, it has happened several times since, including my recent sushi purchase event.

Fortunately, these are not critical or life changing events where being able to communicate clearly was essential to my well-being or somebody else’s. There is nothing I can do about the future though. I am not the one controlling the strings.

The silver lining is that I am now working on a text to speech app that will be designed to work specifically for Parkies. Wish me luck.

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Comments

View Comments (2)
  • Boomy
    2 years ago

    Great write Peter, I take it you are a citizen of the USA, please forgive me if I spell a few words differently to yours. Slurganese – what a terrific name to describe it, well played, sir! I have a speech therapist coming to visit me today and I will show her the text you wrote and watch her reaction; she’ll probably belly laugh, lol. I loved your piece on ordering Sushi, I hardly use my mobile to make calls because of that reason. In the early days I would get increasingly annoyed after being put “on Hold” for 20 minutes, then not being understood by various parties. ironically, as I became more angry and my voice getting louder (it seemed), the words came out more clearly. However, I don’t want to sound angry ordering a cup of coffee! This might seem obvious, but I find my worst time for Slurganese talk is when experiencing the wearing off of my meds and that can be very variable from 1 – 3, 1 – 4 or with luck 1 – 5 hours. I hate it because my face, on a few occasions, assumes the infamous mask and if you are in strange company or just out shopping, it seems everyone is staring at you. Some even approach to ask if there’s anything wrong and your slurring speech makes them think the worst. Even, “I’m fine” doesn’t come out right; “I think he’s asking for wine”, lol. A couple of questions for you, Peter, if you don’t mind:- Have you had any speech therapy and if so, did it help a little, or not at all; do you constantly slobber or dribble? Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • Peter Whyte author
    2 years ago

    Boomy, I am indeed a citizen of the USA, and Canada, where i was born.

    Where are you located. Boomy, my guess is Australia?

    I am busy writing an article on drooling. Great topics.

    I have not tried any speech therapy, but probably should. I play guitar and sing (strictly for private occasion, not a pro) and have recorded a dozen songs of my own at http://soundcloud.com/jazzinaround/we_all_walk_alone_v2.

    With excessive amounts saliva i always feel like the first words out of my mouth are going to accompanies by a bucket of spit. Not attractive, at all.

    I seem to react different than most. I lose the ability to speak properly when my meds turn “on.”

    So I get a choice, walk or talk, but rarely do I get both at the same time.

    I am told that when i get wound up about a topic i seem to regain some of my clarity. Chalk that up to role of adrenaline I think.

    I am interested in what you speech therapist has to say, and what they can do for you. Pete

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