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stammer  大脑飞快转动,嘴巴不听使唤,心有千言万语,奈何无法言传,纵使急得捶胸顿足满头汗,却也只能张口结舌干瞪眼。你以为这是演戏?错!现实生活中口吃者遭遇的尴尬与痛苦远非戏中博人一笑的轻浅演绎所能比拟。不过,好在世上还有网络这个交流平台和文字这根救命稻草。将心中所想付诸文字、放于网络,口吃者们终于做回了自己,也觅到了快乐……

  My mouth gulps2) soundlessly again and again as if I am auditioning3) for a part in Finding Nemo 2, and I can’t help but wonder what I’ve done to deserve this. I’m not freezing up because I’m giving a presentation in front of hundreds of people. I’m doing something that is far scarier—saying my own name to someone I don’t know. You see, I have a stammer.

  It’s not only me. Stammerers have included characters as diverse as Winston Churchill, Bruce Willis4), and Robert Peston5). Around one in a hundred people is affected by some form of this condition, and the symptoms and effects can differ widely depending on the individual—which is probably why no one has yet come up with a “cure”. Most stammers disappear of their own accord6) before adulthood. Unfortunately, mine never did: I can’t remember a day without it.

  Supposedly simple activities, such as telling a bus driver where I want to go, are sometimes nigh-on7) impossible. Even the idea of phoning a friend can bring me out in8) a cold sweat. Memories of past failures feed into my imagined reading of how the next example will unfold, inevitably creating a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. Even though I know that it is beyond silly for me to be full-on9) terrified when the waiter walks around the restaurant table taking food orders, I’ve been known to avoid menu items that I think I won’t be able to say. I just can’t take the advice that I shouldn’t be worried about stammering.

  Any sentence starting with a hard sound such as a “d” or “g” is a recipe10) for disaster. I find myself taking a run-up11) to difficult words like I’m fast bowling12) for England, or simply avoiding them altogether in favour of13) picking something easier. It has made me a good listener by necessity14), but   I’m the guy in the corner of the party who desperately wants to become a proper part of the conversation—having so many things that I want to say, but keeping quiet in case I stammer and make someone else feel uncomfortable. I can’t stand the embarrassment of having a sentence finished for me, but breathe a silent sigh of relief if and when15) it happens.

  The most maddening thing of all is that this snake in the grass can strike at any time. I stammer most when I’m tired, stressed or on the phone, but it can affect me when I’m wide-awake and saying something that I found very easy the day before. Alcohol usually relaxes me and improves the situation, but a couple of glasses of wine can sometimes have the opposite effect.

  Bearing all of the above in mind, then (cue16) feverish note-taking), how would you ever go about17) talking to me? First, I’m not cognitively challenged—I just sometimes have trouble saying what I want to say, exactly when I want to say it. I react well to nodding and thoughtful patience, which can help me feel slightly less self-conscious. Sighs and impatient foot-shuffling18) are obvious no-nos19), though—and I would inwardly go to Defcon One20) if you said anything like “you can do it!”—making hurry-up gestures, looking at your watch like you were an MP21) late for the gravy train22), or—and this has honestly happened—asking me to “sing it”. No, you first, I insist.

   So the rise of the internet has proven to be a godsend for me, because   I’ve come to regard writing as an escape from my lack of verbal nous23). While many people become their dodgily24) goateed evil twin25) when faced with an online forum or comments page, I see such places as the chance to finally be “me”. I can write exactly what I want, express all those opinions, tell the stories that I’d never be able to manage in real life. The written word has become my second life. I’ve written, and am trying to sell, a novel, and have finally emerged victorious in my pitched battle26) with procrastination27). And last year, I got married.

  Marriage is avoided by many stammerers simply because of the potential blind terror of the vows and the speech. My chat with the registrar before the ceremony was unbelievably awful—I could barely get a word out. But when the doors at the back of the room opened, and I saw my bride-to-be standing there, looking so beautiful, it miraculously flipped28) a switch in my head marked “resolve”. There was a tiny flicker29) of a stammer on the first line of my vows, but the rest went like clockwork. Then there was my speech. I’ve watched the DVD since, and I have no idea who that guy was. He was charismatic30). He was funny. But more importantly from my point of view, he was fluent. The Holy Grail31).

  The next day, I was back to my usual self—frustrated and annoyed every time that my voice rebelled against me. But on the most important day of my life, I beat my stammer.

  I’ll always remember that.

  1. stammerer [5stAmErE] n. 口吃的人
  2. gulp [^Qlp] vi. 吞咽
  3. audition [C:5dIFEn] vi. 进行试演
  4. Bruce Willis:布鲁斯·维利斯(1955~),美国影视演员、制片人。其最成功的影片为《虎胆龙威》(Die Hard)系列。
  5. Robert Peston:罗伯特·佩斯顿(1960~),英国记者,从2006年起出任BBC财经新闻的编辑。
  6. of one’s own accord:出于自愿,主动地
  7. nigh-on:接近地
  8. bring sb. out in sth.:使某人浑身都有某种东西
  9. full-on:(表示最大程度)完全地
  10. recipe [5resIpI] n. 处方,诀窍
  11. run-up:助跑;事件的前奏曲,预备阶段
  12. bowl [bEul] vi. (板球)投球
  13. in favour of:以……来替代
  14. by necessity:无法避免地,势必,必定
  15. if and when:万一,如果
  16. cue [kju:] vt. 给……以提示;暗示
  17. go about:着手做,从事
  18. shuffle [5FQfl] vi. (脚在地上)滑来滑去
  19. no-no [5nEJnEJ] n. 不可作之事,禁忌
  20. Defcon One:一级防卫准备,是防御准备中的最高级。Defcon:[军事]战备状态,防卫准备态势(defense readiness condition)
  21. MP:(英国)下院议员
  22. gravy train:〈俚〉薪水优厚的闲差使;美差,肥差;不费力而赚大钱的职位(或机会)
  23. nous [naus] n.〈口〉机智;常识
  24. dodgily [5dCdVIlI] adv. 狡猾地,善于骗人地
  25. goateed evil twin:某人留着山羊胡子的、邪恶的孪生兄弟,暗指人们内心邪恶的一面;“evil twin”主要指小说中主角的敌对方,他们在外形上是主角的复制品,但在道德上与主角相反。在很多小说作品中,邪恶的一方多留有山羊胡子,以和正义的一方作区分。
  26. pitched battle:激战,酣战
  27. procrastination
   [prEu7krAstI5neIFEn] n. 延迟,拖延
  28. flip [flIp] vt. 按动(开关)
  29. flicker [5flIkE] n. 颤动,突然而短暂的动作
  30. charismatic [7kArIz5mAtIk] adj. 神赐能力的,超凡魅力的
  31. the Holy Grail:指某人渴望拥有的事物或达到的目标