When I imagine Scooby-Doo, I can almost hear it. I hear the horn-filled chase theme, the pitter-patter of feet scrambling to get away, and, more than anything, I hear the semi-intelligible dialogue of a canine with a speech disorder. Forty-five years after the first airing of the beloved children’s TV show, I decided I had heard my last “ruh oh.”
WHAT SPEECH DISORDER DID SCOOBY DOO ACTUALLY HAVE, AND WHY DOESN’T ANYONE HAVE IT?
The first time you hear Scooby Doo speak, you immediately know something is off. He adds /r/ to the beginnings of most words, and where that doesn’t work he will try to twist whole words into an /r/-sound—like you trying to imitate the sound of an engine turning over. But is there anything wrong with this? That is to say, is there something diagnosable in the way Scooby speaks?
Medical diagnoses can sometimes be blurry—many have hard definitions but others are more general. A “syndrome,” for example, can be the placeholder for a whole suite of symptoms, none of them necessarily understood or required for diagnosis. To properly diagnose Scooby Doo with a speech impediment then, Scooby needs something more readily definable. To find out, I had to ask a speech…
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