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Classification according to ICD-10
F80.0 Articulation disorder
ICD-10 online (WHO version 2019)

Dyslalia is a collective term for disorders of pronunciation or articulation . The former name, no longer in use today, is stammering . Colloquially, stammering is more often understood as stuttering . This false equation can even be found occasionally in the specialist literature.

In the current scientific discourse, people have distanced themselves from the term “dyslalia” and rather use words such as “pronunciation disorder” or “articulation disorder”. In the more medical-therapeutic specialist literature, however, the term "dyslalia" is still used.


There are basically two types of dyslalia: disorders in the phonetic area and disorders in the phonological area.

  • From the phonetic point of view, dyslalia are disorders in the formation of speech sounds: sounds cannot be formed correctly due to articulation-motor difficulties; So it is a speech disorder . The most common example of such a disorder is sigmatism ("lisp"), in which S-sounds and sibilants are formed incorrectly.
  • The phonological aspect, on the other hand, sees dyslalia as disturbances in the use of speech sounds: sounds can be formed correctly in isolation, but not applied according to the rules of the language system. They are omitted or by other commonly native language replaced sounds, for example the / ⁠ k ⁠ / by / ⁠ t ⁠ / . So this is a language disorder .
  • A mixed form of both disorders occurs less frequently, which is referred to as a phonetic-phonological disorder . In this form, sound formation and sound usage disorders are mutually dependent.

On the phonetic level there are several other errors besides the common sigmatism, the names of which are derived from the name of the Greek or Hebrew letter for the incorrectly spoken sound and the suffix -ism (as well as the fugitive element -t- or -z- ) result:

Sound disorders
Letter Surname Articulation disorder
Β βῆτα Betaism incorrect pronunciation of the sound b
Γ γάμμα Gammazism incorrect pronunciation of the sound g
Δ δέλτα Deltacism incorrect pronunciation of the sound d
Ι ἰῶτα Iotacism incorrect pronunciation of the sound j
Κ κάππα Cappacism incorrect pronunciation of the sound k
Λ λάμβδα Lambdazism incorrect pronunciation of the sound l
Χ χῖ Chitism incorrect pronunciation of the sound ch
Ρ ῥῶ Rhotazism incorrect pronunciation of the sound r
Σ σίγμα Sigmatism incorrect pronunciation of the sound s
ש שין Schetism incorrect pronunciation of the sound sch
Τ ταῦ Tauzism incorrect pronunciation of the sound t

If there is a disorder in such a way that a certain sound is replaced by a completely different one, the description of this error is also given the prefix para- ; for example, when the s-sound is replaced by a t-sound, this disturbance is called parasigmatism .

Classification according to the severity of the dyslalia

Another classification can be made according to the severity of the dyslalia, namely according to whether only one sound or several are affected:

  • inconsistent dyslalia: a certain sound is formed sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly;
  • inconsistent dyslalia: a sound is replaced by different sounds depending on the sound position or word;
  • partial dyslalia: one or two sounds are formed incorrectly, the language is still easy to understand;
  • multiple dyslalia: more than two sounds are affected, the language is less easy to understand;
  • Universal dyslalia: most of the sounds are affected, the language consists mainly of vowels (hence also called "vowel language"; another synonym for the universal dyslalia: " Hottentottism "), the language is barely understandable.


The causes of dyslalia are in most cases perception and processing disorders in the auditory and visual areas, as well as disorders of the speech tools (mostly in the area of ​​the mouth muscles). Often, however, there are also genetic or family-related causes or the sound is not used in the mother tongue and is unknown in it.


Since disorders in the phonetic and phonological areas are two different forms of dyslalia, different therapeutic methods are appropriate. There is never “that” form of therapy that is applied as a prescription; rather, therapy concepts are developed in speech therapy practice that are tailored to the individual needs of the patient and consist of existing therapy modules as well as new, own ideas. The therapies are usually preceded by an anamnesis , a detailed diagnosis and, if necessary, other therapeutic measures such as dental or ear treatments.

The basis of the therapy of phonetic disorders is the "classical articulation therapy" by Charles Van Riper . It consists of the three sub-areas of the exercises for external and self-perception, the correction phase and the stabilization phase. The therapy assumes that a faulty sound pattern can only be changed if the speaker is aware of his mistakes.

In phonological therapy, the “ metaphone concept ” is the most common therapy basis. Occasionally there is also the so-called “ minimal pair therapy” and “phonological therapy” (translated into German by Anette Fox). Therapies for phonological disorders are more protracted in most cases, as the problems are often more profound than those for phonetic disorders. Children with an untreated or inadequately treated phonological disorder are also at a higher risk of written language acquisition disorder.


Dyslalia is occasionally used as a comic element in the media, for example the dyslalia of the fictional version of Pontius Pilate in the film The Life of Brian or that of the physicist Barry Kripke in the television series The Big Bang Theory .


  • Ulrike Franke, Barbara Lleras, Susanne Lutz: Articulation therapy for preschool children. Diagnostics and didactics . Reinhardt, Munich 2001, ISBN 978-3-497-01402-6 .
  • Detlef Hacker, Karl-Heinz Weiß: On the phonemic structure of functional dyslalia . Verlag Arbeiterwohlfahrt, Bezirksverband Weser-Ems e. V., Oldenburg 1986, ISBN 3-926274-02-6 .
  • Josefine Kramer: Sigmatism . Universitätsverlag, Freiburg 1967, ISBN 978-3-7278-0455-7 .
  • Josefine Kramer: When children stammer . Walter, 1945.
  • Martina Weinrich, Heidrun Zehner: Phonetic and phonological disorders in children . Springer, Heidelberg 2005, ISBN 3-540-23041-6 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Dyslalia  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Ulrike Franke: Logopädisches Lexikon . Reinhardt, Munich 1978, p. 48, ISBN 3-497-00787-0 .