Speech Articulation

  • Uncategorized



Speakingemanates from three constituents of voice production resonance,voiced sound and articulation. It is a complex process, whichinvolves a voice mechanism that constitutes three subsystems the airpressure, vibratory and resonating system. Voice production is madepossible through joint or independent actions of lips, soft and hardpalate, teeth, epiglottis, glottis, uvula, vocal folds, tongue,teeth, nasal cavity, trachea, alveolar ridge, larynx, and lungs. Inthe process of speech, voice box has been essential in adjustingvocal fold tension and closing glottis. For sound to be produced, airpressure must pass from the lungs to the glottis through the trachea,vibrating the vocal folds, hence producing the sound waves throughjoint actions of the diaphragm, chest and abdominal muscles, and ribcage. Subsequently, when this air reaches the passive articulatorssuch as upper lip, teeth, alveolar ridge, post-alveolar,palatal-velar, uvular, pharyngeal and active articulator the lowerlip, which includes the apical, laminal, subapical, dorsal andradical, distinct sounds called voiceless are produced. These partsproduce individual sounds that are created by three manners ofarticulation stop where there is complete stoppage in the oralcavity between the lips and the vocal folds fricative where thereis contraction of the air passage in the oral cavity to produce noiseand turbulence and affricate where there is a full stoppage of theair passage followed by immediate contraction.

Keywords:Vocal Folds, articulation, sound, articulation


Speakingemanates from three constituents of voice production resonance,voiced sound and articulation(Manwa, 2014).Resonance is the process by which a person produces recognizableamplified and modified sound voice through mouth cavity, throat, andnasal passages. Moreover, “voiced sound” is the basic sound thatis made by vocal fold vibration, and it differs depending on whetherit is for speech or singing while articulation is the process throughwhich recognizable words are produced by the tongue, soft palate andlips. These components are important in speech and defect in any oneof them would lead to a disorder.

Speakingand singing is a complex process, which involves a voice mechanismthat constitutes three subsystems to begin with “the air pressuresystem, which is composed of diaphragm, ribs, lungs, chest andabdominal muscles that provide and regulate air pressure to makevocal codes vibrate,”(Manwa, 2014).Secondly, the vibratory system composed of vocal folds and larynx(voice box), which vibrate varying air pressure, hence producingdifferent sounds. Finally, the resonating system which is constitutedby vocal tract oral tract, nasal passages, and throat (pharynx).This system is tasked with the role of changing the buzzy sound intoa person’s recognizable voice.

Voiceproduction is made possible through joint or independent actions oflips, soft and hard palate, teeth, epiglottis, glottis, uvula, vocalfolds, tongue, teeth, nasal cavity, trachea, alveolar ridge, larynx,and lungs. The use of these areas is responsible for the productionof varying sounds in speech as they differ in their functions. Forsound to be produced, air pressure must pass from the lungs to theglottis through the trachea vibrating the vocal folds, henceproducing the sound waves through joint actions of the diaphragm,chest and abdominal muscles, and rib cage. In the process, the vocalfolds are moved to the midline by cartilages, voice box muscles andnerves. Thus, speech greatly depends on air from the lungs, this iswhy when an individual tries to speak while inhaling the tone is lostor reduced considerably.

Inthe process of speech, voice box has been essential in adjustingvocal fold tension and closing glottis. The effect of this is thatthere is a change in speech volume and pitch, which is made possibleby the presence of thyroid, cricoid, and arytenoid cartilages andthyroarytenoid, lateral cricoarytenoid, and inter-arytenoid muscles.Other muscles such as posterior cricoarytenoid help in openingglottis while vocalis and cricothyroid muscles help in tension andadjusting the length of vocals folds(Seikel, King, &amp Drumright, 2016).

Thepitch of the sound that will be produced will depend on the length,tension, and diameter of the vocal folds, which are determined by thesize of the larynx and the vibratory cycles. For instance, in men,there is the production of the low pitch due to about 110 vibratorycycle per second while in medium pitch which is popular among womenrange from 180 to 220 cycles per second with 300 cycles per second inchildren, which have the effect of producing high pitch. Furthermore,the pitch can be controlled by abdicating and adjusting vocal folds.When the vocal folds relax the pitch fall and when they tense, itrises.

Subsequently,when this air reaches the passive articulators such as upper lip,teeth, alveolar ridge, post-alveolar, palatal-velar, uvular,pharyngeal and active articulator the lower lip, which includes theapical, laminal, subapical, dorsal and radical, distinct soundscalled voiceless are produced. These parts produce individual soundsthat are created by three manners of articulation stop where thereis complete stoppage in the oral cavity between the lips and thevocal folds fricative where there is contraction of the air passagein the oral cavity to produce noise and turbulence and affricatewhere there is a full stoppage of the air passage followed byimmediate contraction.

Forinstance, in the English language, there are various places ofarticulation such as bilabials, which are necessary for theproduction of sounds that are made by bringing the lips together likethe word “pie”. Examples of sounds produced through fricativearticulation are

“labiodentalsounds, which are formed by bringing the top teeth in contact withthe lower lip by forcing air through such as the word feelinterdental sounds which are produced by placing the tip of thetongue between the top and bottom teeth forcing air out. The alveolarsounds are formed by bringing the tongue in contact with the alveolarridge to create either fricative or stop articulatory such as theword tub” (Manwa,2014).

Also,palatal sounds can be produced by fricative or affricate articulationwhen the blade of the tongue touches or is close to thealveolo-palatal especially in pronouncing words like “sure”(Manwa, 2014).Furthermore, stop articulation can produce velar and glottal sound.Velar sounds are made through stopping the air passage by bringingthe soft palate in contact with tongue especially when pronouncingwords like “could” and “backer” among others. Glottal soundsare made by closing the vocal folds to create a stop or narrowingthem to make fricative (Manwa,2014).

Tomake all this possible, the lips are assisted by muscles such as“buccinators, depressor anguli oris, risorius, depressor labiiinferioris, platysma, mentalis, zygomaticus major and minor, levatorangulis oris, levator labii superioris and levator labii supriorisalaeque (Seikel,et al., 2016).” Moreover, the tongue utilizes the intrinsic and extrinsicmuscles which are superior and inferior longitudinal, transverse andvertical that help to change the tension, shape, length, and tipcurling and genipoglossu, styloglossus, palatoglossus, andhyoglossus tongue muscles which are used to change the location ofthe tongue respective. Other muscles that are important in speech aretensor veli palatine m. uvula, palatoglossus, levator veli palatinem. Palatoglossus m., anterior faucial pillars, palatopharyngeus m.,and posterior faucial pillars and pharyngeal constrictors(Seikel, et al., 2016).


Thus,speaking is composed of three components of voice production,resonance and articulation. Sounds are produced from the air that isexhaled from the lungs the air is pushed upwards to the voice boxand vocal tract. As a result, it is easier to talk while breathingout than in. For speaking to be successful, it needs the coordinationof a lot of muscles, cartilages and nerves. Thus, it is important forall these components to function properly as failure of one wouldlead to a disorder.


Manwa,&nbspL.(2014). Anatomy and Physiology of the Articulatory System.

Seikel,&nbspJ.&nbspA.,King,&nbspD.&nbspW., &amp Drumright,&nbspD.&nbspG. (2016).Anatomy&amp physiology for speech, language, and hearing(5th&nbsped.). Cengage Learning.

Close Menu