Whenever your words run together and become unintelligible, it is said that you have begun to slur your words. This essentially means that your words are no longer forming distinctly; there are countless factors that may cause you to slur, some more serious than others. Slurred words may result from a speech impediment, such as a lisp, or as a result of some sort of artificial hindrance to speech, such as inebriation or partial sedation. For some, slurred words may also simply result from talking too quickly or excitedly.
Inebriation is a common cause that may induce you to slur your words. When your body takes on more alcohol than it can process at any given time, your faculties become slowed and uncoordinated. You may stumble, experience slower than normal thought processes, and yes, you may even speak strangely. In this case, your words will run into each other as a result of a loss of vocal coordination, causing indistinct speech. The drunken slur has often been ridiculed humorously and noted somberly in books, movies, and television, but it can also point to a much larger and more serious problem.
If you slur your words, you might also be experiencing a speech problem not caused by external stimuli such as alcohol or drugs. Many people, especially children, develop speech impediments, whether as a result of physical abnormalities, cognitive problems, or other natural developmental issues. If you slur as a result of a speech impediment, there may be methods to help in clarifying your speech. Consult a professional speech pathologist or other professional for more information.
You may also slur your words for a comedic, dramatic, or secretive effect. For example, one might slur his words under is breath so he might only be heard by someone very close by. This excludes other listeners from hearing any clear or distinct speech. It is not uncommon to hear slurred words in reference to being comedically drunk, nor is it uncommon to hear slurred words in reference to someone being dangerously or poignantly drunk. References to people slurring their words in books, music, or television can be cast in certain lights to convey meaning, even if the words themselves are unintelligible.
If you slur your words, you may also be talking in a colloquial manner. For example, the southern drawl can be considered slurred speech, as the speaker often extends certain word sounds past where they would normally be extended. The absence of certain letters – for example, excluding the letter R from words such as "arm" so that it sounds like "ahhm" – can be an example of slurring as well.