Aristotle on Dysarthria

From Problemata (350 BC)

  1. Book iii, Paragraph 31: Why does the tongue of drunkards stumble? Is it because in drunkenness just as the whole body stumbles, so also the tongue stumbles and staggers and cannot articulate? Is it because the flesh of the tongue is spongy, consequently when wet it swells? When this occurs, being hard to move, owing to the thickening due to the swelling, it cannot pronounce words accurately. Or is it because just as under water we cannot speak owing to the absence of air, so we cannot do so when we have taken liquid into the mouth? In drunkenness we cannot pronounce distinctly because the tongue is surrounded by a quantity of liquid; and to be unable to pronounce distinctly is to stumble. Or is it because in drunkenness the mind stumbles in sympathy with the body? As the mind is in this condition the tongue naturally shows the same effect; for speech originates from the mind. Consequently apart from drunkenness, when the mind is affected in any way, the tongue suffers sympathetically, as for example in men who are afraid.
  2. Book viii, paragraph 14. Why does the tongue of men who are chilled stumble like that of a drunkard? Is it because it becomes congealed and hardened by cold and so is difficult to move, and when this occurs it cannot articulate clearly? Or is it because, when the outward parts thicken through cold, the moisture collects and soaks the tongue, wherefore the tongue cannot perform its own proper function, as has been said in the case of drunkards? Or is because the movement becomes uncontrolled owing to the trembling due to the cold, so that the tongue cannot articulate what is says; consequently it stumbles?

Aristotle (350 BC/1927) Problemata. In W. D. Ross (trans.) The works of Aristotle. Retrieved on February 27, 2010.