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Department of Linguistics

SPH302: Speech Physiology

Articulatory Anatomy and Physiology

Topics and References

Listed below are topics covered in this series of lectures.

The textbook readings for these lectures are:-

  • Seikel et al., chapters 7 and 8

Additional readings are:-

  1. Clark and Yallop, section 6.7 to 6.12 (2.8 to 2.13 in 1st edn.)
  2. Hardcastle, chapter 5
  3. Perkins et al., chapter 6
  4. Zemlin, chapter 4

Of the above, the Clark and Yallop reference is the briefest and represents mimimum pre-lecture reading.

The Seikel and Zemlin references are the most detailed. The Hardcastle reading would represent the minimum post-lecture reading. The Seikel reference contains a number of brief topics (mainly in chapter 8) which examine articulatory disorders. Some additional readings are referred to below under specific topics.

Click here to see a series of x-ray movie clips illustrating speech articulation.

Click here to see a series of movie clips illustrating velum function during speech.

Click here to see some articulatory anatomy slides.

Powerpoint slides for these lectures accompany the on-line iLecture audio recordings and are ONLY available to students registered for this course.

Articulatory Anatomy

  1. Overview of Articulatory Anatomy
  2. The Skull
  3. The Mandible
  4. The Tongue
    • Read especially, Hardcastle, pp92-106
  5. The Lips
  6. The Velum
  7. The Pharynx
  8. Overview of Facial Muscles

Articulatory Physiology

  1. Control of Resonance
    1. Place of articulation in vowels and consonants
    2. Nasality
  2. Control of Non-Glottal Sound Sources: Turbulence and Noise Generation
  3. Coordinated Articulation
    • Coarticulation
      Read Clark and Yallop, 2nd edn., section 4.1 (1st edn., section 5.1), "Phonetic variability"
      • Overlapping Gestures
      • Intrinsic Nasality and Intrinsic Fundamental Frequency
  4. Theories
    Read Seikel et al, 1997, pp 367-372.
    1. Central Control Theories
    2. Task Dynamic Theories
  5. Articulatory Disorders: Apraxia
    Read Seikel et al, 1997, p370. This topic will not be covered in this lecture. Disorders of speech and language are dealt with in other undergraduate and postgraduate units. Some of you may wish to read this short discussion of apraxia, but it is not required reading for this unit.


Following these lectures, you should:-

  • Know the location of, and be able to sketch, the major features of the oral and nasal cavities
  • Be familiar with the general structure of the skull. You should know the meaning of the term "process". You should be familiar with the location of the temporal bone and of the Styloid and Mastoid Processes of that bone. You should also be familiar with the location of the Zygomatic bone and the Zygomatic arch.
  • Understand the general structure of the nasal septum, including the bony and cartilaginous structures of the nose, the bony plates of the nasal septum and the sinuses. (It is not necessary to memorise the names of these structures).
  • Be familiar with the general shape and structure of the mandible.
  • Be generally familiar with the mandibular muscle system and how the mandible is raised, lowered, protruded and retracted. Know the name of at least one muscle involved in each of these movements. Be particularly familiar with the muscle systems involved in the raising and lowering of the jaw as these are the main movements of relevance to speech.
  • Have a thorough understanding of the intrinsic tongue muscles and how they alter the configuration of the tongue. Know the names, locations and functions of the longitudinalis superior, longitudinalis inferior, transfersus and verticalis muscles.
  • Have a thorough understanding of the extrinsic tongue muscles and how they alter both the tongue position and its configuration. Know the names, locations and functions of the genioglossus, styloglossus, palatoglossus and hyoglossus muscles.
  • Be familiar with the "seven articulatory parameters for specifying the different lingual motions and configurations during speech" as defined by Hardcastle (1976, pp100-106), being:-
    1. "Horizontal forward-backward movement of the tongue body"
    2. "Vertical upwards-downwards movement of the tongue body"
    3. "Horizontal forward-backward movement of the tip-blade"
    4. "Vertical upwards-downwards movement of the tip-blade"
    5. "Transverse cross-sectional configuration of the tongue body: convex-concave, in relation to the palate"
    6. "Transverse cross-sectional configuration extending throughout the whole length of the tongue, particularly the tip and blade - degree of central grooving"
    7. "Surface plan of the tongue dorsum - spread, tapered"
  • Have a thorough understanding of the muscles of the lips. You should attempt to memorise all of the lip muscle names listed in Hardcastle (1976, table on p112) and know the role that they play in:-
    1. Closing lips
    2. Raising upper lip
    3. Lowering bottom lip
    4. Rounding lips
    5. Protruding lips
    6. Retracting angle of mouth
    7. Raising angles of mouth
    8. Lowering angles of mouth
  • Have a thorough understanding of the muscles of the velum. Know the names locations and functions of the levator palatini, tensor palatini, palatoglossus and palatopharyngeus.
  • Be familiar with the muscles and general structure of the pharynx. You should understand the general structure of the pharyngeal constrictor muscles but will not be required to memorise their names.
  • Understand how modifications to the shape and position of the articulators control the resonant characteristics of the vocal tract and result in the different sounds that characterise different vowel and consonant places of articulation and nasality.
  • Understand how articulators behave in the production of turbulent non-glottal sound sources in stops and fricatives.
  • Understand coarticulation. Be aware of how the gestures of different articulators overlap during speech production and how such factors as articulator inertia and the contrastive or non-contrastive nature of various gestures affect the patterns of gesture overlap.
  • Understand how the muscles that link the velum, tongue, mandible, pharynx, hyoid bone and larynx couple these structures together and interact so that movement of one structure will result in the movement of a connected structure unless sufficient contraction of antagonist muscles oppose that movement.
  • Understand vowel "intrinsic nasality" and "intrinsic pitch".

Following these lectures, you should know the answers to the following questions:

  • Describe the structure of the tongue. Explain how the intrinsic and extrinsic tongue muscles change the position and configuration of the tongue.
  • Describe the configuration of the muscles of the lips. Explain how these muscles change the position and configuration of the lips.
  • Describe the configuration of the muscles of the soft palate (velum) and how these muscles act to open and close the velum.
  • Explain what is meant by "coarticulation". Consider such phenomena as articulator inertia and phonemically contrastive versus non-contrastive gestures.
  • Explain the physiological bases of the phonetic phenomena of vowel intrinsic nasality and vowel intrinsic "pitch". Examine how muscles working antagonistically and synergistically play a role in these phenomena.