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Echolalia August 5, 2008

Posted by speakingaut in language, social.
Tags: , , ,

Echolalia is one of the most important elements of spoken language. If you think I’m wrong, just think of how most parents react when their babies start babbling.

It’s also one of the markers for autism spectrum disorders.

The first time anybody suggested that I might be on that particular spectrum, I was a little kid, and one of the reasons that the diagnosis got deferred for twelve-odd years was that I hadn’t exhibited echolalia in the way she had expected.

Of course, I never do anything the way people expect.

So here’s how it works with me:

-I repeat myself. There’s a set of stock words and phrases I use — some would say overuse — in conversation. It especially comes out when I’m uncomfortable. Think of it as a stronger version of “so, how ’bout them Yankees?”.

-I pick up the linguistic foibles of other people. Add this and my oddly-shaped sinuses to the fact that I have family thirty years removed from New England, and somehow I have waitresses complimenting my Canadian accent.

-I do impressions. Kind of. I’m horrible at doing specific impressions — which is really odd, considering point 2 above — but I can repeat the words and tone of lines from video media extremely well. Once I’ve heard it a few times and have it memorized, that much is easy for me. My favorite dramatic warm-up is the one where people pair off and start imitating each other.