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The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues

Speech Errors


Vocal cues1. Mistakes in verbal fluency, including repetition, stuttering, mispronounced words, incomplete clauses, and throat-clearing.

Usage: Increased frequency in speech errors may indicate anger, anxiety, or stress (Mehrabian 1974:89).

Hem and haw1. Hem: "A short cough or clearing of the throat made especially to gain attention, warn another, hide embarrassment, or fill a pause in speech" (Soukhanov 1992:841). 2. Haw: "An utterance used by a speaker who is fumbling for words" (Soukhanov 1992:829).

RESEARCH REPORTS1. Speech hesitations tend to occur at the beginnings of clauses, usually after the first word (Boomer 1965). 2. "George Mahl of Yale University has found that errors become more frequent as the speaker's discomfort or anxiety increases" (Mehrabian 1974:89).

Neuro-notesEmotion from the limbic system carries to the larynx and pharynx through special visceral (i.e., "gut reactive") nerves. Anxiety may also divert mental concentration.