[Overton]Articulation: Shaping Our Speech

Because most of us are able to speak so effortlessly, we think that speaking is simple. However, our ability to speak is actually the result of many complex coordinations that take place between several different systems in our bodies.

Speech, like any other sound, requires energy (provided by air from the lungs), sound (produced by vibration of the vocal folds in the larynx) and amplification, or resonation, (accomplished as the sound travels through the chest, mouth and nose). In addition, it has to be shaped, or articulated.

Speech is articulated when the lips, jaw, tongue and soft palate move to shape the sound produced by the vocal folds into individual speech sounds. These structures can shape the sounds by:

Development of the ability to articulate speech begins in infancy and is a gradual process that continues through a child's sixth or seventh year. It requires:

Taking into consideration all that's necessary just to shape the sound produced by the vocal folds, it's not surprising that articulation disorders (the inability to correctly produce speech sounds) are so common. In fact, articulation disorders constitute approximately 32% of all communication disorders.

You may find that the following articles can help you understand more about articulation and how it develops:

What Is an Articulation Disorder? (in the "Recognizing Disorders in Young Children" page)

Emergence versus Mastery (includes charts showing what ages speech sounds develop)

The Phonological Approach to Developing Correct Sound Production

Oral Sensitivity and How It Affects Articulation Development

Some Resources for More Information on Articulation


If you have questions or need more information you can contact me at:

Overton Speech & Language Center, Inc.
Fort Worth, TX
(817) 294-8408


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Copyright (c) 2001 Overton Speech & Language Center, Inc.
Last revised: December 29, 2001