Monday, September 28, 2009

Two stuttering talks in France

At the congress of the French SLTs on October 6th, there are two talks on stuttering: see here.
Bégaiement et langue des signes; réflexions autour d’une étude de cas.

Les bégaiements : nouvelles perspectives.
Données neuroradiologiques, génétiques et pharmacologiques.
I find it rather unfortunate that Dr Monfrais-Pfauwadel only speaks for 15 minutes on the neurology of stuttering. Then again in a country obsessed and possessed by psychoanalytic musing on case studies in correct Academie Francaise grammar, ethnically pure words and elegant style, fifteen minutes real science is better than nothing. The first talk is a case study on someone who is deaf and stutters.

Case studies can be sometimes interesting for science, but they are always interesting for our instincts. We love to watch out-of-the-ordinary stuff. My mind now fills up with Pigalle peep shows, the bearded fat lady from a turn-of-the-century fair or this poor  four legged guy from the Guiness book. Or who doesn't love the before therapy video of a heavy stutterer and the after therapy of the fluent cured person? Freak shows (see picture above) are always popular, aren't they? In any setting...


Alexandre said...

So many clichés in your post...

It's disappointing reading such claptrap against France and French people, especially in a serious blog like yours.

Nevermind, French people don't pay heed to these words.

O said...

I can't believe what i've just read.
I agree with Alexandre. Although I translate some of your messages, I'm disappointed and almost shocked by what you wrote.
People like Mrs Monfrais-Pfauwadel are working hard to erase this clichés, and it's not easy.

I consider your post as an insult for my country, scornful for my works, and the others french blogs, which are providing informations for free.

Unknown said...

Tom :

Don't be cruel. I can't sing this as well as Elvis did, but...I mean what I say.
The "poor guy" is not a freak, and her therapist neither.
They did a wonderful job together; her videos show the differencies in fluency according to the "language" the patient is using (sign language, completed language, natural speech). It is interesting, clear, not wordy and nobody is trying to make Freudian or Lacanian interpretations.
It is not "science" as you like it, because nobody here has the time, the money and the qualifications to work and do some (pertinent) research about stuttering.
I am a clinician, a teacher above all, and I am proud of what one of my students has done so far, and what she, and the others are now accomplishing in their every day practise to provide better help to stuttering patients.
It is the first time I am posting on your blog, because I am not quite sure my English will be proper enough.
However we have met several times and, so far, I never heard this kind of talk about French clinicians in your mouth !

I looked closely at the picture and didn't recognise myself, nor Mrs Ruault-Bouclier, nor her patient .

I was once turned out of a popular French TV show ("ça se discute"), because my patients were not stuttering "enough".
This kind of behavior you should mock...Patients can have mild stuttering, they can improve, they may even talk fluently..They are not "Elephant man".

Let people know about this.

The French Phoniatric Society is a medical Society devoted to disorders of communication. It has been founded 70 years ago. We have only a one day Congress every year, with lots to discuss and learn about each other's progresses in the fields of Voice, Dysarthria, Deafness, Swallowing disorders, Stuttering, Language impairment's great to have been allowed two talks in a row.

Don't be sour, don't be cruel.
I know you can behave better.

Dr Marie-Claude Monfrais-Pfauwadel
Former President of the French Phoniatric Society
Former Member of the Fluency Committee of the IALP

Rocard said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Why are you going after the French Tom?

Doesn't that guy have some research on how deaf people stutter in sign language?

Tom - You ought to check that research out. I mean, stuttering in sign language. Now that sounds like research offering a major breakthrough for those of us who stutter...I mean those of us who actually stutter when we vocally try to talk.

Tom Weidig said...

Hi everyone,

here is what I wanted to say

1) I would have given Marie-Claude more time than just 15 minutes because she talks about an essential and important topic for stuttering and because of her experience and reputation!

2) The case study in terms of information on stuttering is very marginal.

3) Of course, a case study is more interesting for everyone (not just for the French.) Why?

4) I just wrote what came to my mind, when hearing of the case study. That's all. There is nothing French about a freak show. It is a natural human instinct. Happens in all countries.

Regarding my comments on psychoanalysis and elaborate musings (a la Bernard Pivot), the French "intellectual elite" are obsessed by it all. I had to do all this completely useless subjonctif indicative, subjonctif plus-que-parfait, complement d'object direct and so on.. la galere...

And scientists in France have a lower reputation than French writers a la Sartre, Beauvoir and so on who just wrote a lot of non-sense and have no clue of science... Not to speak of post-modernism... It is a national obsession...

And all those of you who commented, you are not the type of French I have in mind!


Anonymous said...

Tom, can you be the judge:

stuttering in sign language, true or false?

Anonymous said...

Thought Freak shows were even more popular in the early 1900's.

Who was the stuttering freak in the 1932 cult classic movie Freaks. (What was his name?)

In some ways, stutterers are still considered freaks today....

School bullies and kids like to imitate stuttering and pick on stutterers for some reason....

Stuttering the last disability that people still laugh at.

An unrelated question: does gradual hearing loss help with your stuttering?

Burt The Second said...

Hmmm. How disappointing all those prejudices about the French are.

It's true that the French are probably a bit more obsessed about psychoanalysis than the average. But judging from the very candide point of view of a non- professional, I don't quite think this is very much of an issue for speech therapy/stuttering.
I mean, in my opinion, the issue in France is more with a number of self proclaimed miracle cures for stuttering, which get regular promotion in popular media. And those are not by psychanalists.

As to the idea that scientists would be less famous than writers in France, here again I think it is only a prejudice. As a matter of fact, it is much more prestigious in France to study science than litterature. Now of course media celebrity is a different issue: in fact, the really famous people in this field are movie actors ... like in most countries.

Finaly, regarding the use of subjonctive, it just so happens that this is part of the language. Just like declinations are in German or many other languages, even though one may consider that it is quite tedious and useless to change the end of articles or names on the basis of their function in a sentence.

I regret that these tempses are complicated to learn for foreigners. But people who make us the honour of learning French should consider themselves lucky not to be taking Italian: in Italian, the use of subjonctive, including in complex past tempses, is much more common than in French, even in popular speech.

Tom Weidig said...

Oh God. I should never have said those things...

I do believe it is not just prejudices. After all, Luxembourg is "half-French." I did my secondary school in French and had a serious exposure to French grammar, verbes irreguliers, dictee grammaticale, and literature. And I speak fluently German and English plus know the cultures in depth. So I can compare better than anyone else.

If you do not speak and write French perfectly, you are a nobody in French intellectual circles. Mind you that actually excludes most French, too! :-)

Yes, it is more prestigious to go to one of the grande ecole of engineering or management, but the icons are writers like Satre, Camus, Beauvoir or the painters like Monnet or Renoir. You need to read and know their work to be someone, but what exactly do they know about the objective world? Yeah, their work is intellectual intertaining but that's all. Is reading about Lavoisier or Poincare a must? Oh God, I'll probably be killed now... OK, it's a bit similar but much less extreme. The Germans and the English do not have these existentialist and art obsessions.

Of course, if I want to see a good movie about life and people, I will certainly watch a French movie. They are far more cultured and sophisticated than anyyone else.