I have learned how to vocally talk since I was about 4-6 years old. I took speech therapy till my third year in college. I thank the speech teachers who have taught me how to talk, even though, I didn’t like taking the classes. My point is that sometimes I mispronounce words. I say the words exactly how they are spelled until someone tells me how it supposed to sound. I have a deaf voice.
When I was about 11 or 12 years old I had to feed our dogs (2 Collies) their dinner. I was taught to make sure that they sit before I gave them food. One night, our dogs refused to sit after I asked them over and over. My frustration grew and my voice got louder and harsher; I knew this. In the end, I forced them to sit and then gave them their food. When I went into the kitchen I noticed that my mom and sister were looking at each other, trying not to giggle. I looked at them like, “What?” My mom signed, “Do you know what you are telling the dogs?” I told her that I was telling them to sit. Mom smirked and said, “Well, you were saying “shit” instead of “sit”. My jaw dropped, “NO WONDER, they didn’t obey!!” So my mom helped me to understand how to say “Sh” and “S”. Ever since, I have been conscious on how my words sounded. Sometimes I was worried that my pronouncing of “Set” sounds like “Sex”.
During college I would share with my college classes about Sign Language with the help of a good friend of mine as translator. I was trying to say “Wednesday” and my friend didn’t understand and asked me to repeat. I kept saying, “wed-nes-day”. I had to spell the word and she understood. She told me that Wednesday does not sound like how it spells. Its “winds-day”.
There are 2 or 3 words that I STILL cannot pronounce right after trying about 500,000 times. My family still teases me about it sometimes. For example, the word is “anatomy” is pronounced “a-NAT-omy” but I still say “ana-TOM-y”. I still have trouble with the letters “n” and “r”. Edwin says my “n’s” bounce back up when they are supposed to just end and then that whole rolling the “r” is just ugh! I don’t understand it at all. I am not perfect, but I am trying.
My voice and struggles with speaking are common to many deaf persons. Some call it the characteristic “deaf voice” so please bear with us when we try to use our voice to talk. DON’T FREAK OUT!! I know I talk very softly which is hard to hear but I yell like I am angry. I am not angry, just trying to be louder. I have noticed that when I try to yell, I feel my vocal chord tighten. I don’t know how to yell gracefully. A friend of mine who is Oral Deaf, told me that her yell sounds like crying. She knows this because her husband ran immediately to her, asking if she was OK. I have another childhood friend who is profoundly Deaf and her laughter sounds more like pain or crying. I know this because my mom would run into my room where we played, checking on us A LOT. We don’t realize how we sound a lot of times so the nuances of sound and tone of voice are lost on us. For us vocalizing is a means to an end, and usually in last resort. Deafies can’t hear our own voices/noises, so we usually do not realize the sounds we make until someone lets us know. I didn’t know that “farting” was loud, until my family told me to keep it quiet. LOL.
I want to share this hilarious CODA Brothers video from their YouTube channel. CODA means Children Of Deaf Adults and typically refers to children that are hearing, not deaf themselves. This video is a true, fun, and laughable story about deaf voice. Enjoy watch this video.