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Speech mechanism and the functions of the various organs of speech

Speech mechanism and the functions of the various organs of speech

Speech mechanism and the functions of the various organs of speech

Q. What is speech mechanism? Describe the speech mechanism and the functions of the various organs of speech.

Answer: The speech mechanism, also known as the vocal apparatus or articulatory system, refers to the complex set of organs and structures in the human body that work together to produce speech sounds. These organs and structures play distinct roles in shaping and articulating sounds, allowing humans to communicate through spoken language. The key organs involved in the speech mechanism include:

1. Lungs: The process of speech begins with the lungs. When we speak, air is expelled from the lungs in a controlled manner. The diaphragm, a muscle located below the lungs, controls the airflow by contracting and relaxing.

2. Trachea (Windpipe): The trachea is a tube that connects the lungs to the larynx. It allows the passage of air from the lungs to the vocal folds (vocal cords) in the larynx.

3. Larynx (Voice Box): The larynx houses the vocal folds, which are a pair of muscular structures covered by a mucous membrane. The vocal folds vibrate as air passes through them, creating sound. The pitch of the sound is determined by the tension and thickness of the vocal folds.

4. Pharynx: The pharynx is a muscular tube located at the back of the throat, connecting the nasal and oral cavities to the larynx. It serves as a resonating chamber for speech sounds.

5. Oral Cavity: The oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, teeth, and hard and soft palates, plays a crucial role in shaping the sound produced by the vocal folds. These articulatory organs can manipulate the airflow to produce different speech sounds. For example:

   - Lips: They can be used to produce labial sounds like /p/, /b/, and /m/.

   - Tongue: The tongue's position in the oral cavity is essential for creating sounds. It can be placed against different parts of the mouth, such as the alveolar ridge (for sounds like /t/ and /d/), the velum (for nasal sounds like /n/ and /ŋ/), or the back of the oral cavity (for sounds like /k/ and /g/).

   - Teeth: The interaction of the tongue and teeth is important for sounds like /s/ and /z/.

   - Hard and Soft Palates: The movement of the soft palate (velum) can close off the nasal passage, allowing for sounds to be either oral or nasal.

6. Nasal Cavity: The nasal cavity is responsible for producing nasal sounds (e.g., /n/ and /ŋ/). It can be opened or closed off by the movement of the soft palate.

7. Articulators: Articulators are the parts of the speech mechanism responsible for fine-tuning speech sounds. These include the lips, teeth, alveolar ridge, hard palate, and soft palate.

The functions of these organs within the speech mechanism are:

- Respiration: The lungs and diaphragm provide the necessary airflow for speech production.

- Phonation: The larynx generates sound through the vibration of the vocal folds.

- Resonance: The pharynx and oral cavity act as resonating chambers, amplifying and modifying the sound produced by the vocal folds.

- Articulation: The tongue, lips, teeth, and palate shape the sound waves into specific speech sounds by altering the size and shape of the oral cavity.

- Nasality: The nasal cavity can be opened or closed to allow or block airflow through the nose, contributing to the production of nasal sounds.

In brief, the speech mechanism involves the coordination of various organs and structures to produce a wide range of speech sounds used in language communication. The precise manipulation of airflow, vocal fold vibration, and articulatory movements allows humans to convey meaning through spoken words and sentences.


Read also:

👉 Development of the English language | from the Anglo-Saxon to the Modern period  

👉 Speech mechanism | Functions of the various organs of speech  

👉 What is ‘Stylistics’? | Why is it necessary for students of literature?  

👉 J. Sinclair and Geoffrey Leech’s contributions | to stylistic analysis of literature 

👉 Received Pronunciation (RP) | Distinctive features, criteria and major problems  

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