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Congestion Speak

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"I don't feel berry good. I thing I'm coming down with a coad."
Lizzie Bruin and Papa Bear, The Berenstain Bears, "Come Clean for School"

Being congested is a pain in the butt— you have trouble breathing through your nose, your sinuses hurt (and if it's caused by a nosebleed, that whole area hurts), and your voice can even sound different due to the blocked airway. In written fiction, this voice change is often showcased via changing certain consonants, perhaps to the point of rendering the victim The Unintelligible. Common ones include:

  • "B" changed to "V" or vice-versa
  • "C" or "K" changed to "G" or vice-versa
  • "M" or "P" changed to "B"
  • "N" changed to "B" or "D" (or omitting the "N" entirely if it's just before a "D")
  • "T" or "Z" changed to "D" (or "D" to "T")
  • "-ing" changed to "-ig"

Sometimes, this is invoked by holding one's nose to disguise one's voice. If Played for Laughs, it might lead to a Who's on First? type misunderstanding or Accidental Misnaming if they can't pronounce someone's name.

If done well, this can be an effective way to demonstrate that a character has a stuffy nose, but if done badly, it can make the dialogue hard to read, especially if the resulting spelling becomes a word in its own right (such as "cold" to "code").

Compare Funetik Aksent, Baby Talk, Elmuh Fudd Syndwome, Speech Impediment, Porky Pig Pronunciation, Sssssnaketalk, Speech-Impaired Animal, Animal Species Accent, Verbal Tic, Vampire Vords, Electronic Speech Impediment, Trrrilling Rrrs, and Fang Thpeak. Can happen alongside Sick Episode and its subtropes, Nerdy Nasalness, or Plot Allergy.


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    Comic Books 
  • In an issue of Archie Comics, Archie somehow catches a cold after spending the storyline curing Veronica of hers. As she walks by Archie's window, his final line is:
    Hey, thad souds like Verodiga.
  • Asterix:
    • In "Asterix in Switzerland", when Obelix believes that he's caught a cold from a lake, his speech bubble spells "from" as "frob".
    • In one comic, Obelix has hayfever and asks for "bagic" (magic) potion.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark: In issue 68, Cerebus catches a cold and becomes horribly stopped up, which messes with everything he says. The issue ends with this confrontation between him and his rival Adam Weisshaupt:
    Cerebus: [shouting out his bedroom window] Weiddhaupd! Whad do you wand?
    Weisshaupt: [shouting from the rooftop across the square] I want the gold, aardvark! All of it!
    Cerebus: Na golt?! You're duts!
    Weisshaupt: 'Nuts' am I? Look more closely, aardvark! I'm not alone up here! I have company! [points to a row of cannons beside him] I want the gold...and I want it now!
    Cerebus: [to himself] Uh-oh.
    DEXD: na shid hids na fan *SNIFF*

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one story arc, Calvin's pressured into playing baseball at school. His dad offers to practice with him at home, and reassures Calvin that playing baseball "builds character". Within minutes, Calvin gets bopped in the face by a ball, leaving him with a bloody nose, a funny voice, and the desire to never play baseball again.
      Calvin: All by charagder id drippig out by node!
    • When Hobbes catches hayfever, his sneezing alerts Calvin whenever he tries to sneak up on him. When he complains, his voice is muddled from his congestion, depicted through the misspelled words.
      Hobbes: You thig id's fuddy, bud id's dot.
  • Garfield:
    • While he can't talk out loud, Garfield once caught a cold that left him thinking in congestion speak. Lampshaded in one strip where he notes, "I can hardly ebben understad by own thoughts," while looking directly up at the thought bubble over his head.
    • In one strip, Garfield lampshades this trope when he comes down with a cold. He points at his thought balloon and comments, "Loog, eben my thoughts are stuffed ub." Later, when Jon thinks Garfield gave him his cold, he pronounces it as "He gabe me a code".
  • Luann: In one strip, Bernice has a congested-sounding voice when she says to Luann, "Your bom sed you're doi'g an ard projeck."note  She claims that it's because she met her new roommate Dez, or as she puts it, "I bet my boombate, Dez."
  • FoxTrot: This has been used as a gag a couple times, both involving Andy. One time, she was suffering a bad case of hay fever, and another time she had a cold. In both cases, the joke was that Roger couldn't understand what Andy was saying due to her congestion, only to say what she was trying to say the whole time in the last panel.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: In "The Mall," Bolt joins Rhino in searching the title venue for the lost Mittens, but his sense of smell is hampered by a bad cold. It makes him speak funny, enough so that Rhino compares the dog's speech to "a bizarro world version of Elmer Fudd."
    "Very fuddy! Veeeery fuddy!" the little shepherd said with a peevish sneer. "Dod't bake fud of be, or I'll… I'll… ahh-ahh-ahh-CHOO!... I'll sdeeze all over you! That'll show you!"
  • The Kedabory Verse:
    • In the Turning Red fanfic Fragile; Handle with Care, Tae-young speaks like this in the second chapter while he has a cold. At the end of the fic, Jesse is also shown speaking like this now that he has a cold.
    • During a flashback in the Punch-Out!! fanfic Hold Me, a young Aran Ryan speaks like this (ex. calling his mother "Bubby" instead of "Mummy") after having to walk home on a bitter winter afternoon.
    • Kedabory's Elmore Chronicles: In the November 15th installment of "The Voicemails", Steve talks like this while in bed with a flu.
    • The Octonauts and the Vaquitas: Towards the end of the story, Shellington, who has a cold, pronounces several words funny, such as pronouncing "fine" as "fide", "marine" as "baride", "form" as "forb", and "California" as "Califordia".
    Kwazii: Ye still sound like death, though.
    • In Chapter 23 of Twinkling in the Dark, Joker is stuck speaking like this due to his several nasal congestion ("I'm not crying" becomes "I'b dot cryig"). He stops at the end when it clears up.
  • In the Calvin and Hobbes fanfic Wherever You Are, Hobbes was apparently so-named because Calvin tried to name him Hops, only it came out wrong because he had a stuffy nose.

  • This joke:
    "Q: How is someone with a stuffy nose like a cryptographer?"
    "A: They both have a code in the head."

  • The Berenstain Bears: In "The Berenstain Bears Come Clean for School", Lizzie Bruin and later Papa Bear say, "I don't feel berry good; I thing I'm coming down with a coad".
  • In Charlie Moon And The Big Bonanza Bust Up, when the kids are holding their noses to avoid a bad smell, their dialogue is written as "I'be not breadig ad all" (I'm not breathing at all), "Neider ab I" (Neither am I) and "Dawseatig!" (Nauseating).
  • The picture book The Cow Said BOO! features a cow who has caught a bad cold and whose "Moo!" keeps coming out as "Boo!" instead. This creates quite a panic around the farm when the cow accidentally gets tangled in a bedsheet on a clothesline and keeps saying "Boo!" because the other animals believe the cow to be a Bedsheet Ghost. Later, however, it turns out to their advantage when the cow scares off a wolf.
  • Dr. Pompo's Nose: Dr. Pompo and the other living pumpkins find a "nose" (read: a stem). One of them, Ms. Sniffen (who has misplaced her own "nose") has a congested voice; for example, she pronounces "heavens" like "hebbens" and "suppose" like "subboze". She still speaks this way even after Dr. Pompo puts her nose back on.
  • The Famous Five: In "Five run away Together", Julian pulls Edgar's nose. He says, "Led go! Led go! You're hurding me! Let go by dose!"
  • In The Flea's Sneeze, when the flea has a runny nose, he says, "Does eddybody (anybody) hab (have) a tissue for be (me)?". Later, when the hog also has a runny nose, he says, "I think I'm godda (gonna) sneeze!".
  • Freaky Friday: Boris has serious congestion issues, which ends up surprising Annabel when he delivers a beet loaf rather than the meatloaf she thought he promised. Also, only at the end of the book does Annabel, who has known Boris for several years, learn his name is actually Morris. The reader does not learn this until the end either, as the words are written as Annabel interprets them.
  • Gumpa And The Paint Box: After being washed in a stream, Little Mutt says, "Atishoo! I think I hab caught a code from being washed so buch in the streab yesterday."
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: In the final battle at the ministry, Neville gets punched hard by a death eater and obtains a bloody nose, giving him dialogue like "He's dot alone! He's still god be!" and also rendering him incapable of performing spells as a byproduct.
  • In Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Melody Foxglove, the "crybaby" in the chapter "The Crybaby Cure," talks this way because her constant crying makes her stuffed up.
  • In The Hobbit, at one point it's noted that when Bilbo has a cold, all he can say is, "Thag you very buch".
  • In How To Catch A Cold, the narrator, once infected, addresses his mother as "Bom" instead of "Mom".
  • Mr. Men:
    • In "Mr. Dizzy", this trope is discussed when Mr. Dizzy (who has become smarter) asks an elephant what's large and gray and says, "Dopit! Dopit!" When the elephant claims that no animal says that, Mr. Dizzy ties his trunk in a knot. The elephant then tries to yell, "Stop it!", only to say, "Dop it! Dop it!".
    • When Mr. Mischief seizes a sleeping wizard's wand in "Mr. Mischief", the wizard seizes Mr. Mischief's nose, who replies "Led go ob my node!"
  • Muppet Babies (1984): In the book "Baby Gonzo Has a Cold", Gonzo catches a cold. When he's informing Nanny that he has a stuffy nose, he pronounces "nose" like "dose".
  • In The Queens Bracelet, a gribbler who's about to sneeze pronounces "up my nose" as "up by dose".
  • The Rover Adventures: In "The Giggler Treatment", a ball bounces off of Robbie's nose and he exclaims, "Ow, me doze!"
  • In Tommy Catches a Cold, a book based on Rugrats, when Tommy gets a cold, he mentions that he caught it at the "playgrowd". He also pronounces "let" as "led" and "it" as "id", and the boy he's implied to have caught it from pronounces "Hey, that's mine!" as "Hey, dat's mide!".
  • In Les Misérables, the student revolutionary Joly has a cold on the day of the barricades and talks this way. For example, "It is decidedly abberent that Barius is in lub." ("It is decidedly apparent that Marius is in love.")

  • "I Got a Code in My Doze" (congestion speak for "cold in my nose") is a novelty song written in 1929 by Arthur Fields, Fred Hall, and Billy Rose.
  • One Gayla Peevey song is called "Got a Cold in the Node For Christmas".

  • Binary Break: When Penny lands in the Digital World, he's in the middle of a field of flowers that immediately start gushing pollen and make him congested.


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