Anatomy of Speech

Speech is one of the most complex and delicate operations that the body is asked to undertake. Ultimately, all speech, talking and comprehension are controlled and co-ordinate by the brain. It is in the cerebral cortex that there are areas called the speech centers where words are deciphered and signals and instructions are sent out to the hundreds of muscles in the lungs, throat and mouth that are involved in producing speech.

Anatomy of Speech

By Mr Ghaz, January 5, 2011

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Anatomy of Speech

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Speech is one of the most complex and delicate operations that the body is asked to undertake. Ultimately, all speech, talking and comprehension are controlled and co-ordinate by the brain. It is in the cerebral cortex that there are areas called the speech centers where words are deciphered and signals and instructions are sent out to the hundreds of muscles in the lungs, throat and mouth that are involved in producing speech.

The whole of the respiratory system and the entire structure of the muscles from the abdomen to the nose play some part in the production of speech sounds, but of these, the larynx, tongue, lips and soft palate are most important.

The Larynx

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The larynx is the body’s voice box, containing the vocal cords, which vibrate to produce speech. As such, it is an extremely delicate instrument, but it also has a less complex function-a valve guarding the entrance to the lungs.

When we eat or drink, the larynx closes tightly, making food or liquids slide over it down into the oesophagus, which leads into the stomach. When we need to breathe in or out, it is, of course, open.

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The larynx is placed at about the centre of the neck, at the top of the windpipe or trachea, out of sight around the ‘corner’ of the back of the throat. It is essentially a specialized section of the windpipe with an external sheath of cartilage. Positioned over it is the epiglottis, the flap-valve which comes down to cover the opening from the back of the throat into the larynx, known as the glottis.

The action of the epiglottis is automatically controlled by the brain, but sometimes it fails, and then liquids or food particles go down the ‘wrong way’. Unless a lump of food is so large that it sticks in a passage below the larynx, it will be coughed back up.

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3 Responses to “Anatomy of Speech”
  1. wonder Says...

    On July 14, 2010 at 5:31 am

    A great entry, let it resonate in our minds.


  2. CHAN LEE PENG Says...

    On July 14, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Great article full of information and pics. :-) liked it.


  3. revivor Says...

    On July 15, 2010 at 6:36 am

    like I said – an e-book!!?


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