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In the Discworld universe, when an Igor (which is basically a parody of Adam from Frankenstein) speaks, they generally speak with a lisp (pronouncing "s" as "th").

In Monstrous Regiment, though, when

Igor is revealed to actually be Igorina,

She says that Igorinas don't lisp as much as the boys:

"Sometimes, you forget to lisp," said Polly. "But mostly... it's just a feeling. Little things about the way you move, maybe."
"The word you're looking for is 'Igorina,'" said Igorina. "We don't lisp as much as the boys. It's a style thing."
Monstrous Regiment, page 144

What does "it's a style thing" mean? Why would the Igorinas not lisp while the Igors do?

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  • 29
    Igors are a lot less of a parody of Adam as they are a parody of Igor. May 31 at 0:49
  • 8
    In "Making Money", Igor shows they can talk without the lisp, but do it for the ambiance. May 31 at 9:09
  • 1
    Having read the books, I always understood it to be affectation. And I pictured Igor from Young Frankenstein. Jun 1 at 1:11
26

Terry Pratchett had a running joke about Igorinas being more 'normal' than their monstrous but accommodating and polite male equivalents. See for example this exchange between Vimes and Cheery from 'The Fifth Elephant':

Are there any ... Igorinas? Igorettes?

Well, any Igor is considered a good catch for a young lady...

He is?

And their daughters tend to be very attractive.”

Eyes at the same height, that sort of thing?

Oh yes.

While mostly a throwaway joke it does lightly poke fun at the trend in movies for female 'monsters' to be portrayed as far more attractive and normal than their male counterparts.

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    This is a continuing theme through several books. It's noted in Thud! that when vampires return to human form after transforming into bats or smoke, male vampires retain their original clothing, while female vampires appear unclothed. May 31 at 1:02
13

"it's a style thing" means just that. Even though Igors are actually able to speak perfectly, they choose the lisp (and extensive surgical modifications) because it is part of the image they wish to project. Same reason that people who grew up speaking (or later learned) the standard language of their society choose instead to speak various dialects or use a slang that is fairly incomprehensible to people outside their sub-group. Likewise, we see people today getting tattoos, piercings, and other modifications to mark themselves as different - the only difference from the Igors being the latters' superior skill at surgery.

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    There's also a quotation somewhere about how they might have "a small curved scar or decorative stitches" (or something, I don't have the books to hand). So while Igors have to be completely Igor-ish, the Igorinas can just nod to it. May 31 at 9:45
  • 3
    It's in Making Money. May 31 at 9:53
  • This general concept is actually found a lot in other places in the Discworld novels. For example, the same premise is used by witches throughout the world as a kind of placebo effect (called ‘headology’ by Granny Weatherwax, and referred to as ‘Boffo’ (after the name of a shop specializing in props for this type of thing) throughout the Tiffany Aching books). Jun 1 at 12:40

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