What is Speech?
What is Speech? Speech is the physical production
of sound using our tongue, lips,
palate and respiratory system to
The Respiratory and Phonatory Systems
When we talk about the production of speech sounds it's best to start
with the respiratory system. Speech is reliant on the powerful air flow that is supplied via our respiratory system.
When we breathe out the air travels up from our lungs, through our
windpipe and out through a structure in our throats
called a voice box (larynx). The larynx shapes
the sound of our voices. The sound, or phonation, is produced
by a pair of vocal folds that are situated in the larnyx.
The voice box can change the nature of the sounds
coming out of our lungs.
When we turn the larynx on it vibrates. That is,
the voice box works to make the quiet sounds
coming out of our lungs into loud sounds.
The larynx can do this very fast. It can switch
from quiet sounds to loud sounds and back again.
The larynx does this without us even noticing it.
Articulation is the name given to the precise movements of the tongue, palate, velum and
lips to create the vowel and consonant sounds that make up the myriad phonemic
elements of language. The amazing thing about articulation is that it must work in harmony with
the respiratory and phonatory systems. It does this amazingly well.
What is Speech? cont...
Once the air from our lungs reaches our mouth (oral cavity) we can then make speech sounds. We make speech sounds by using our tongue, teeth and
lips to control the air as it passes through our mouth.
Our lips, tongue and teeth all work together to turn the
air from our lungs into speech sounds, and, ultimately, spoken
words. We have a name for the speech sounds made by
the lips, tongue and teeth. These sounds are called
consonants. Consonants are created by obstructions of
the air flow created by our tongue, teeth, and lips. In contrast, vowels are generally produced with an open vocal tract.
Eliciting Speech Sounds
Please click on the links to access information on how to elicit speech sounds
for common speech sound errors.
Eliciting the /s/ Sound
Eliciting the /sh/ Sound
Eliciting the /k/ Sound
Eliciting the /f/ Sound
Secord, W. (1981) Eliciting Sounds: Techniques for Clinicians. The Psychological Corporation
Van Riper, C. & Erickson, R.L. (1996) Speech Correction: An Introduction to Speech Pathology and Audiology. Allyn & Bacon
Williams, A.L. McLeod, S. & McCauley, R.J.(2010)Interventions for Speech Sound Disorders in Children. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Content Updated 8/11
Return from What is Speech to Speech Sound Errors
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