Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill is one of the most prominent British Prime Ministers to have served majorly because of his role in leading the Great Britain through the Second World War. He is a renowned diplomat and politician who served in the British Army during the Boer War in South Africa and the war in Sudan (Mather, Para. 5).
Further, Churchill was a writer, artist or/and painter, historian and a wonderful orator. His speeches moved the audience’s ear and appealed to populations across the world courtesy of his oratory skills. The most famous speech is the speech read on 4 June 1940 in the House of Commons at the early days of World War II, which inspired the British population greatly and the entire world (James, Para. 2).
However, his oratory skills were not always perfect and at some point in his life, he had to contend with speech impediment that he overcame to become the perfect orator. As aforementioned, Winston Churchill had a speech impediment; actually, at some point he confessed the same.
He was recorded saying that his impediment was no hindrance to him implying that he actually had an impediment in the first place (“Personal Life”, Para.50). However, different authors and organizations like the Churchill Center have never agreed as to what type of a speech impediment Churchill had to overcome.
While some indicate that Churchill stuttered, others argue that it was just a lisp or a clutter. Stutterers have problems with their pronunciation although their thoughts are very clear and orderly as compared to lispers who can put their thoughts into words although their speech becomes disorganized at some point.
Someone with a lisp is not able to organize his/her words very well and the impediment is in his/her language. Nevertheless, whether Churchill had a lisp or a stutter, the main point is that, he worked very hard to overcome his shortcomings and emerged as a fluent orator. When Churchill came home for leave in 1897, he sought medical help concerning his speech problem because he pronounced “s” as “sh” (Reynoldson, 2002, p.34).
This marked the beginning of his efforts to overcome speech impediment to become a great orator. The physician he consulted confirmed that there was no organic defect and the only recommendation was to continue practicing. Speech practice would greatly help to improve his pronunciation of most of the words he had problem pronouncing.
Churchill further consulted an American masseuse who observed that a ligament restrained his tongue and according to Churchill, this offered good explanation of his speaking through the nose (Reynoldson, 2002, p.35). This observation also coincided with the explanation of Churchill by the Boers when he escaped from prison in South Africa; they said he made rattling noise in his throat.
However, when he consulted with his doctor on cutting the ligament, the doctor declined. Therefore, the only option was to continue persisting and persevering to overcome his impediment. He often practiced pronouncing phrases or tongue twisters with ‘s’ to improve. Churchill practiced often and his effort paid off handsomely since in his political speeches, no impediment could be traced.
Many journalists who have studied his speeches observe that he avoided using words staring or ending with ‘s’. The hesitations in his speeches contributed to the sweetness of his orations and he used them perfectly to capture the audiences’ attention.
Winston Churchill was one of the greatest and most captivating orators of the 20th century. Though he faced a challenge of speech impediment earlier in his childhood, he worked hard enough to overcome his shortcomings. He offers a good role model of how people can transform their negatives into positives for he proved that big impediments are surmountable.
James, R. R. (n.d). An actor read Churchill’s wartime speeches over the wireless. The Churchill Center and Museum. Web.
Mather, J. (n.d). Churchill’s speech impediment was stuttering. The Churchill Center and Museum. Web.
“Personal Life”. (n.d). The Churchill Center and Museum. Web.
Reynoldson, F. (2002). Winston Churchill (Leading Lives). Heinemann Library Paperbacks.