Part One: How do we speak?

Regardless of whether my clients have aphasia, apraxia of speech, stuttering or a voice disorder, there comes a time where it becomes important to explain about how speech works and what is involved in turning our voices on.

My clients often ask me:


  • How do we speak?
  • Where does speech come from?
  • How do we turn on our voices?


This first post covers how we turn on our voices.

My next post will cover how we actually use this turned on voice to generate speech sounds, words and sentences that help us talk.

The following is wonderful explanation on Voice Production from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Quoting from their website:

"The main parts of voice production:
• The Power Source: Your Lungs
• The Vibrator: Your Voice Box
• The Resonator: Your Throat, Nose, Mouth, and Sinuses
The Power Source: The power for your voice comes from air that you exhale. When we inhale, the diaphragm lowers and the rib cage expands, drawing air into the lungs. As we exhale, the process reverses and air exits the lungs, creating an airstream in the trachea. This airstream provides the energy for the vocal folds in the voice box to produce sound. The stronger the airstream, the stronger the voice. Give your voice good breath support to create a steady strong airstream that helps you make clear sounds.
The Vibrator: The larynx (or voice box) sits on top of the windpipe. It contains two vocal folds (also known as vocal cords) that open during breathing and close during swallowing and voice production. When we produce voice, the airstream passes between the two vocal folds that have come together. These folds are soft and are set into vibration by the passing airstream. They vibrate very fast – from 100 to 1000 times per second, depending on the pitch of the sound we make. Pitch is determined by the length and tension of the vocal folds, which are controlled by muscles in the larynx.
The Resonator: By themselves, the vocal folds produce a noise that sounds like simple buzzing, much like the mouthpiece on a trumpet. All of the structure above the folds, including the throat, nose, and mouth, are part of the resonator system. We can compare these structures to those of a horn or trumpet. The buzzing sound created by vocal fold vibration is changed by the shape of the resonator tract to produce our unique human sound."

File:Illu01 head neck.jpg

image courtesy: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illu01_head_neck.jpg

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