8 Types Of Speech Impediment To Give Your Dialogue An Edge

Screenwriters are always looking for inventive ways to spice up the dialogue in their screenplays. One way to elevate your screenwriting is by giving your characters a speech impediment. They can really add distinctive features to your scripts and stop all the characters sounding the same.

Speech impediments should enhance your characters rather than just used to add variety to their speech patterns. So use them wisely. Consider how the inability to speak may enhance other traits in your characters.

Here are some common types of speech impediments to try in your film and TV scripts:


This is sometimes called stammering. It occurs when the first syllable of a word is repeated, overly emphasized or isolated.

Think how intense emotions such as fear can trigger stuttering. Hhh-elp Mmmme!

A Fish Called Wanda used a stutter to great comedic effect.


This is most commonly observed in children missing their front teeth. It is characterized by the inability to properly pronounce the letter “s” and replacing it with a “th”. Thank you “Thindy Brady” for using it in primetime TV.


Speech articulation may deliberately part of a speech pattern or a genuine speech disorder.

There are 4 key types of articulation speech disorder:

OMISSION –  often seen when words are clipped either at the beginning or ending. Examples include ‘ow are you goin’?

CONTRACTION – is the merging of words such as dunno for don’t know.


SUBSTITUTION – is typified by the replacement of letters or syllables. Where’s dat wascally wabbit?


This is the rearrangement of syllables and sounds in a word such as aks rather than ask or PITATO rather than POTATO.


This includes speaking really fast can be the case with nervous people or really slow which can happen in certain neurological conditions.


This is characterized by a characters inability or unwillingness to speak. It could result from deafness since birth, the result of a traumatic event or other neurological disorder.


This is the inability to speak properly due to uncontrollable or compromised lips, face, throat, diaphragm and neck muscles. An example is the slurry speech observed after a stroke or other neurological event.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Adrian Havens says:

    Ah, you left out spoonerisms. You can make an interesting character with that.

  2. Greatly enjoying your blog so far. Thank you for continuously providing such helpful content!

    This one leaves me with one question, though: did you mean Mute/deaf, instead of mute/dumb?

    1. Thanks so much for reading. We’re actually talking about different things. Mute/ dumb refers to silence due to an inability or unwillingness to speak. Some deaf people (especially completely deaf since birth) have a speech impediment due to not being able to hear correct speech. Thanks again. JGS

  3. Lavi Mare says:

    Thank you for explaining the different types of speech impediment, especially apraxia and how it is a type of problem wherein some syllables of the word are replaced. My little sister usually says “Mimmy” instead of “Mommy” and “Diddy” instead of “Daddy.” There are also some other things that she says that are like that. Now I know that it is actually a disorder. I’ll ask my parents to take her to an SLP.

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