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Fang Thpeak

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"The teeth, I had to put fangs in. I didn’t want to, but I was told to. I went to an orthodontist, and they put in these fangs, with a bit of plasticine, but I found it very hard to speak, very hard to speak clearly, so I took the bottom ones out after a while. Bad continuity, that."
Anthony Ainley on Doctor Who, "Survival"

A speech impediment that strikes vampires (and other fanged creatures, as well), where their spoken s's become th's or, more often, sh's.

Here's the technical explanation for why it happens: False teeth tend to cause sibilants (s; soft c, like the first c in "circus"; and sometimes z) to be mispronounced because the prosthetics force a change in the position of the tongue. Interdentals (th) are made by the tongue going against the upper incisors - sibilants are more likely to be mispronounced as interdentals when the incisors are altered or missing, as with fake buck teeth or missing front teethnote  More common with prosthetic fangs are for the sibilants to become post-alveolar fricatives (sh), caused by the tongue being forced back by the wider and longer canines. For example, listen to anything The Master says in Buffy season one. When he comments, "Nice dress", he pronounces it "Nishe dresh", not "Nithe dreth".


Fang Thpeak can be called to the audiensh'sh attention in two waysh:

  1. When the writersh make no effort to avoid shibilantsh, charactersh who have fangsh will alwaysh shpeak thish way, or,
  2. When the people writing the show, having one actor (or more) who wear a fang proshthetic, go out of their way to try to write dialogue avoiding the letter "S". An attempt of that nature will very likely end with the character having a rather odd vocabulary and pattern of word choishe. And the shibelentsh that do get through are glaring.

Can be avoided by the actors just redubbing the offending voices over later (without the problematic prosthetics), but episodic tv shows don't always have the time or the budget for that.

The same thing happens to a slightly lesser degree to people who wear upper dentures, and orthodontic retainers. Again, it's the mouthpiece interfering with the position of the tongue.


Other consistent mispronunciations include ventriloquists substituting g or v for b, and f for p — it's nearly impossible to pronounce a b or p sound without noticeable movement of the lips.

Related to Vampire Vords and Sssssnake Talk. Though Joss Whedon uses it, not related to Buffy Speak at all.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Bookth 
  • Mr. Scarface in Batman comics had this problem, pronouncing all 'B's as 'G's. This was because he was actually a ventriloquist dummy who was the split personality of Arnold Wesker (appropriately titled the Ventriloquist), and Batman has used it to figure out his identity a few times when Scarface was trying to pretend he was somebody not made of wood. (In another story where Wesker took on a different masked identity, Robin figured out who he was when he realized this villain was avoiding words with B's.) This speech impediment was not carried over to Scarface's appearances in Batman: The Animated Series or The Batman, since it was deemed too awkward.
  • Many kids in the Asterix comics speak like this, including kid-ified versions of most of the main cast during the Flashback story How Obelix Fell into the Magic Potion.
  • Krurgor in Les Naufragés d'Ythaq belongs to a race that can basically be described as bipedal walrusses, including speech-hindering fangs.
  • Another fang-induced lisp is that of the Cafou, a giant, talking saber-toothed cat in Les Lumières de l'Amalou.
  • In Empowered, the villain King Tyrant Lizard (a human turned intelligent dinosaur) and the hero Homunculoid talk like this; the former has a tyrannosaur's jaws and teeth, the latter has oversized lips and tongue.
  • The Beast in Fables, whenever his curse is only partially in effect — he's got fangs but not a big enough mouth to fit them in, so they get in the way.
  • Mooch the cat in Mutts. He has a speech impediment that causes him to insert an sh into words when he "shpeaks", such as yesh (yes), shmilk (milk), and shmousie (mousie).
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin mentions that saber-toothed tigers probably did this. Hobbes is not amused.
  • In The Multiversity, this is how the snake Sivana speaks, very much averting Sssssnake Talk.
  • In one of the Cinema Purgatorio stories, "Code Pru", Prudence meets a vampire who talks like that.

    Fan Workth 
  • Chrysalis Visits The Hague has a bad grammatical case of this; It's largely justified when ponies are holding platters and swords in their mouths, but that doesn't explain why any character's speech is reduced to comical "shlurs" when they have as much as a single cigarette between their lips. Edith's subtler slurring is justified at least, since a falling rock almost ends up breaking her jaw.
  • Kate and Sophie have a variant of this due to their boxing mouth guards in Well-Matched.

    Filmth — Live-Action 
  • Planet of the Apes (2001) fell into this with a lot of the ape actors. Tim Roth had it particularly bad, and his character's name was Thade. That's rough.
  • WNUF Halloween Special has a scene where a costumed audience outside of a haunted house is being asked about the house's history. A tall, scared-looking man in a vampire costume, complete with cheap plastic fangs, says, "Shomebody died in thish houshe?"
  • Warcraft has Garona, even if they're only in her lower jaw. Honest Trailers even highlight that among all the teeth regarding Orcs, there's "the prosthetic teeth this actress can barely speak through."

  • It's not vampires that suffer from this in Discworld; rather, it's their servants, the Igors (and Igorinas), though they can turn it off to be understood better. This varies from Igor to Igor. The hip young Igor who works for the City Watch has it intermittently (his relatives call it a thpeech impediment), while another Igor was able to shut it off for a complex explanation. Given the nature of Igorhood this could have something to do with what dental surgery a particular Igor has dabbled in.
    • Vimes believes people in drought-stricken countries would pay good money for Igor to say "sausages".
    • Offler the crocodile god has this problem due to, well, having a crocodile's head and so has an impressive set of uniform teeth and no proper lips.
    • Gargoyles have their mouths stuck permanently open, and talk in a manner that reflects this.
    • Angua of the City Watch and other werewolves speak like this mid-way through the change into wolf, due to elongated fangs.
    • Cribbins, from Making Money, talksh like thish due to the poorly-fitting dentures he stole from a man just before killing him.
    • Cohen the Barbarian had difficulties of this sort in The Light Fantastic due to his lack of teeth, but resumed speaking normally after having dentures crafted from a troll's diamond teeth.
  • The Parasol Protectorate: Vampires consider "fang-lisping" to be the height of vulgarity, and are swift to train new larvae out of it as before letting them out in public. At the beginning of the series, the fact that the mysterious vampire that attacks Alexia was lisping is one of the signs that there was something abnormal about him.
  • Lampshaded in Red Dragon, particularly the book. Dolarhyde has a corrected harelip and cleft palate and avoids sibilant words, for example, always using "Mmm-hmm" instead of "Yes."
  • Vargo Hoat from A Song of Ice and Fire. He's a normal human, but monstrous in morality and Laughably Evil.
  • Betsy Taylor in Mary Janice Davidson's Undead and Unwed thpeakth like thith.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. In the DVD commentary for the first season of Buffy, Joss Whedon explains that the prosthetic fangs the actors wear make particular sounds difficult to pronounce properly. The makeup artists and the actors learned a few tricks to get around this; custom prosthetics for major characters eased this problem. Whedon even invoked this trope in the first season Buffy DVD commentary by apologizing to one of his guest-stars for making him use the phrase "excruciating loser" in full vamp-face. Juliette Landau wore her fangs for an extended period before taking up the role of Drusilla specifically to learn how to speak properly with them. Unfortunately, guest vamps lacked the time for this and some had more trouble than others.
  • Many of the Klingons and Ferengi on Star Trek's various series, particularly since they typically had entire mouths full of awkward prosthetic teeth. Particularly noticeable when recurring actors had to wear the makeup — such as in the episodes of Deep Space Nine where Odo, Sisko, and O'Brien go undercover as Klingons. O'Brien even points it out. And Michael Dorn (who played Worf, a Klingon, for at least 13 years) found their plight rather amusing.
    • Armin Shimerman noted that the hardest word for him to pronounce with the Ferengi fangs was "hellhole".
    • On an aside, one of the more common Klingon expressions seen on-screen is teeth-grinding for annoyance. One imagines that at least some of that annoyance is method-acting.
  • Vir Cotto from Babylon 5 originally sported large canine teeth like all other Centauri, but they quickly disappeared because it made the actor talk like this.
  • In Chinese Paladin 3, the temporarily-vampirized hero has a huge problem with this. Not only does he struggle obviously and markedly with pronunciation, he often sprays innocent bystanders with spit in the process.
  • Not so much in True Blood (although it does happen) but in the parody video of the show.
  • In Living Color has Fire Marshal Bill, who's prominent teeth (caused by Jim Carrey pushing his lower lip back) making "Let me show you something!" come out as "Lemme show ya shumthin!"
  • The Cat on Red Dwarf suffers a little bit of this from time to time.
  • Supernatural. Spoofed in "LARP And The Real Girl" when a LARPer dressed as an orc has his false fangs fall out in the middle of a slurred Badass Boast. As he's held in the stocks, someone else has to put them back in for him.
  • Juliet Van Heusen from Wizards of Waverly Place has a slight lisp once her fangs grow.

    Puppet Showth 
  • The Muppet Movie: "It's a myth! A MYTH!"
  • Any ventriloquist dummies that are actually voiced by competent ventriloquists.

    Video Gameth 

  • Vampire Camille in Bloody Urban. When she was applying for Australian citizenship she only passed the dictation testnote  by mind-controlling the proctor.
    • Camille, Shannon's fragile little sister, has crooked, front-facing fangs which result in a speech impediment.
  • All of the Trolls in Homestuck have fangs, but Sollux is the only one that has been stated to have a lisp. This is because Sollux is also the only one with doubled incisors (and it is only the incisors, and their counterparts in the lower jaw, that are doubled). Which is why it vanishes when Karkat accidentally knocks those extra fangs out.
    TA: lips, lips, lipsssss. w0w, it feels s0 great t0 say that w0rd!
  • Similar to the example from Homestuck, members of Species X from DNA have mouths full of sharp teeth but only one of them, named Orion, talks like this, and he gets picked on for it. His teeth stick out noticeably more than the rest of the Xs'.
  • Trope-tan, in The Way of the Metagamer, lisps occasionally due to her Cute Little Fang.
  • Iacar from Wurr haf a diftinctive lifp.
  • The Jagermonsters in Girl Genius show enormous fangs when they speak or smile, some even have tusks, but for reasons somewhere between plot development and Rule of Funny, they speak with Funetik Aksent — cod-German or East European, in their case. The harshness of the accent could be put down to the fangs, but the handful of Jagers without these dental excesses talk the same way, so it seems to be cultural.
  • Wapthi Thquare, uh, Wapsi Square: Monica ekthperientheth a temporary(?) bout of this as a result of her Jaguar Girl identity coming to the fore in the Bibliothiki.

    Wethtern Animation 
  • Shelly Marsh, from South Park, speaks like this because of her braces and retainer.
  • Penny from ChalkZone.
  • Lisa Loud from The Loud House.
  • Total Drama: Beth has these in season one because of her braces. She loses it in season two and onwards due to them being removed.
  • Phineas gets this when he dresses as a vampire for Halloween.
  • The protagonist of Last Year's Snow Was Falling speaks that way (Lost in Translation, unfortunately). No explanation is given, but the condition is permanent. Possibly a parody on the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who suffered from throat cancer.
  • A Pup Named Scooby-Doo mixes this with Vampire Vords, where an actor who plays a vampire claims that the fake fangs he wears makes him speak in an accent when asked why he doesn't have an accent off-screen.

    Real Life 
  • A common result of wearing ordinary non-fang dentures, Sean Connery's distinctive speech being a notable example.
  • Anyone with a freshly pierced tongue, lip, or cheek tend to talk like this until they heal, as will anyone who's just had dental work and still has numb lips from the anesthetic.
  • Talking while wearing a dental retainer can often cause this, especially if the retainer is new and you're not used to it yet.
    • Ermahgerd! Gersberms! Mah favrit berks! [1]
  • Try speaking a language that isn't your native one right after getting braces. Not pretty.
  • Legendary Notre Dame Fighting Irish coach Lou Holtsh.
  • Germans trying to speak English may thometimes do this as a form of overcompensation.
  • Listening to a recording of people speaking, which has a lot of static in it, may, for some reason, also sound like everyone has a lisp.
  • Sometimes this trope may be just linguistic, as in certain Spanish dialects. The "official" pronunciation in Spain is the Castilian one, where the soft "c" sound is pronounced "th" as in "thin" rather than "s". So "cero" (zero) would sound like "thero", and "cazador" (hunter) would sound like "cathador," and so on. Ironically, this is the least common pronunciation — the southern half of Spain and the Spanish-speaking countries of South and Central America mostly use the "s" sound ("sero", "casador"...). And then there is the lower class Andalusian phenomenon of pronouncing every s/z ce/ci as "th". More on this on Wikipedia.
  • Same for Portuguese accent. In Portuguese many words are written like in Spanish, but pronounced differently. This includes "sh" in place of "s".
    • One step above for people from Rio de Janeiro, who have the tendency turning "s" into "sh" or "sch" (their accent is easy to detect in phrases with lots of plurals).
  • Any vampire LARPG player who's just gotten a new set of fake fangs tends to lisp slightly until they get used to the elongated canines.

Alternative Title(s): Whedon Thyndrome, Whedons Syndrome, Buffy Thpeak, Fang Speak, Fang Shpeak, Fang Induthed Lithp, Fang Induced Lisp, The Vampireth Dilemma, Fang Thspeak


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