Breaking the word in the middle

Dear expert,

I would greatly appreciate your advice and feedback:

I stutter from the age of 3, now I am in my late thirties.

Beside blocks I have a tendency to break the words in the middle of the word!

It seems that I have a difficulty to move to the next sound or syllable.
For example instead of saying: chocolate

I say:
choooo — (long pause) — coo (long pause) — let

Following Dean Williams and Van Riper work – I’ve tried to figure out what is happening or what I do wrong and I’ve noticed that some of the time it feels that I am having a problem to move my tongue, lip, jaw to the next position. Moving them feels as if they were a mountain of cement or lifting weights. Sometimes even if I know exactly where to place them – it seems like the neurological connection between the brain to the tongue is lost (or any other articulation organs). I have troubles even if I try to “manually tell” my tongue to move or order my brain to close my mouth so I can start the next sound.

I don’t think it is a problem with my breathing because sometimes it happens when I say only one of two words and the tension in that area is not that great.

Do you have any ideas, suggestions or techniques that I can use and practice so I’ll be able to move forward with the word without breaking it?

Also, is it a common type of stuttering? What caused it?

Any help is much appreciated, Thanks!

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Breaking the word in the middle — 5 Comments

  1. Hi,

    As you know, stuttering usually happens in the initial positions, but it does not mean stuttering will not happen at other word/sentence positions. The studies on stuttering moments with various positions are not many, and I could only recall that stuttering at word final positions may be related to neurological stuttering. For stuttering in the middle, I don’t recall any study.

    That being said, I might suggest you to try McGuire’s program. I am not affiliated with them and I have not tried the program myself. I just, by chance, learned something about it. A major part of it is actually about breathing, specifically, costal breathing technique. When you feel you stutter, when you stutter, you stop, you have a deep breath, you produce sounds when it’s time to exhale, and you stop very quickly before another stuttering moment comes. Basically that’s my understanding of the program. There are some youtube videos about it and you may check them out.

    Of course this is not to say you have problem in breathing. It’s just that I feel you may use the breathing technique to produce whole words/phrases so you don’t break the word.

  2. Yo,

    My personal experience is that it makes little difference whether you stutter at the beginning of the word or on a syllable in between. Same mechanisms appear to apply. The usual therapies would be just as applicable if not more so as any that pay special attention to breathing. Of course, I consider that REBTS is the best, but not because it has something special for mid word stuttering, but simply because it handles all idiosyncratic modes of stuttering.

  3. Hello – thanks for posting your question. I’m sorry to hear of the difficulties you’ve been experiencing. Stuttering can be accompanied by increased physical tension, and that feeling of not being able to move on. Often, that ‘stuck’ feeling is associated with a moment where the muscles are contracted very tightly. One idea that might help you develop some ways of dealing with that physical tension is to practice ‘staying in the moment’ of those stutters (first on your own, and then, as you get more comfortable, with other people), so you can identify which muscles are tightening, when they’re tightening, and then explore whether you can reduce those muscles – not necessarily in trying to move through the word, but specifically in trying to simply change the tension…change what you’re doing during the moment of tension to see if you can find another way for your muscles to interact. In doing that, you might find that you can approach a moment of stuttering with less tension – OR, reduce the tension during the stutter so you can move forward more easily. The goal here is not to try to produce the word fluently, per se, but to be able to work with the tension you are experiencing. So much more to say, but remember at least this important fact: it’s okay to stutter. You don’t have to try to hide it, and the more open you can be about it, the easier it will be to manage. Hoping this helps, Scott

  4. I agree with Scott, and have similar silent blocks myself. I often find it helpful to reduce tension in the muscles when I get “stuck” by literally stopping, exhaling, then starting again with a “neutral vocal tract,” as they say in some fluency shaping programs. That is, the articulators are relaxed and in sort of an “open” position. Think of how your mouth looks and feels after saying “duh,” although perhaps not that exaggerated 🙂

    So, you’re not beginning the first sound with the articulators pressed tightly together. Van Riper called these positions “fixed articulatory postures” or “preparatory sets.” I do this often, and some times my prep sets have nothing to do with the intended sound. For example, I might start the word “Paul” with my tongue pressed tightly up against my hard palate…not needed for a /p/ sound 🙂 Easier said than done to break out of this habit, but this might give you food for thought. Best to you!


  5. Hi,
    I know a couple of PWS block on the second syllable of words, which is not common among PWS, but not very rare.
    If you can speak to yourself fluently when no one is hearing you, the problem is that you try to consciously control your speech too hard in real time in the presence of others. In this respect I second Gnars above, and also in:
    In the similar vein, you could benefit from treatments that do not directly aim at fluency as the primary treatment target (but could be a goal), like avoidance reduction therapy by Vivian Sisskin , NLP by Bodenhamer , Dynamic Stuttering Therapy by Barbara Dahm , or some intensive trainings done at American Institute of Stuttering and Hausdorfer Institute for Natural Speech .
    I would not recommend you to try to gain more control because that is exactly what makes you struggle and stutter severly, if you are the one who can speak fluently when you are alone.
    If you stutter even if you are alone, you might want to start from extremely slow speech as in Camperdown method.
    Speech requires more than a hundred of muscles working together and there is no way you can control every one of them consciously in running speech. You have to let go the concept of controlling your speech if you really want to be fluent. That is, you have to forget stuttering if you want to be fluent. You can practice slowly and consciously, but you cannot utter a word fluently with conscious control of articulation and respiration and vocal cords simultaneously. It’s just like walking or running: You probably do not try to control which leg should be in front now etc, though you could be aware that one of your leg is in front at a particular moment.
    Perhaps “Speech is a river” by Ruth Mead may help you understand the paradoxical nature of stuttering and natural fluent speech.
    Fluent speech is how NOT to control articulation or breathing or voicing.