Anatomical Structures for Articulation

Written by Paige Taylor –
Office Manager

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Have you ever wondered just how many structures you use to produce a word? A sound even? Until becoming interested in the field of Speech-Language Therapy it never came to mind. I didn’t think about how my words were coming out, just if and what they were.

There are eight articulators we use and all of them are housed in the vocal tract. The vocal tract is 17cm long and has a right angle, where the articulators are. It is then divided into three subdivisions:

  1. Laryngopharynx : from the larynx/esophageal openings to the hyoid bone at the base of the tongue.
  2. Oropharynx: from laryngopharynx to velum and creates a barrier between oropharynx and the mouth, hence the prefix oro.
  3. Nasopharynx: soft palate to skull base and creates passage to the nasal cavity, hence the prefix naso.

The first articulator we’ll talk about are the lips. The lips help increase the length of the vocal tract and are used in producing bilabial and labiodental sounds. Bilabial sounds are /b/, /p/, /m/, and /w/. Labiodental sounds are /v/, and /f/.

Then we have the teeth. The teeth are used for digestion and producing speech. They are classified by occlusions. Occlusion I is normal, II is what we call an overbite, and III is what we refer to as an underbite. The teeth help articulate labiodental and interdental sounds. Interdental sounds are both voiced and voiceless “th” sounds.

Another articulator is the alveolar ridge. When I first heard this term I had no clue what the professor was referring to. The alveolar ridge is the hard ridge right behind your teeth. It is used in producing alveolar sounds. These sounds include /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, and /n/.

We then have the hard and soft palate. Both of these are located at the roof of your mouth. The one closest to your teeth is the hard palate and the one further back is the soft palate. The palates are used to articulate palatal sounds, “sh”, “zh”, /j/, and /r/.

Next is the velum. The velum separates oral and nasal cavities for the production of nasal and non-nasal sounds. The velum is used in producing velar sounds. The velar sounds are /k/, /g/, and /ng/. /ng/ is the sound you make when saying “ing.”

Our next to last articulator we’ll talk about is the tongue. The tongue is the most mobile of all the articulators. It alters the configuration of the vocal tract and has two types of muscles, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic deal with the tongues configuration/shape and extrinsic deals with the tongues position in the mouth.

Last, but not least, the glottis. The glottis is a small opening between the vocal cords and is not technically a structure. However, it is used in the production of the glottal sound /h/.


If you or a loved one is experiencing articulation errors, contact Christine Wilson today!

Better Speech & Hearing-Bilingualism

Week 4 of Better Speech and Hearing month is all about being bilingual! Approximately 20% of children in the United States speak a language other than English at home, with Spanish as the most common non-English language. There are many myths about bilingualism and how it affects language development.

Here are some of the common myths that parents may have heard—and set the record straight:

Myth: Exposing infants and toddlers to more than one language may cause delays in their speech or language development.​

Fact: Milestones of pre-language development are the same in all languages. Like other children, most bilingual children speak their first words by age one (i.e., mama, dada). By age two, most bilingual children can use two-word phrases (i.e., my ball, no juice). These are the same developmental milestones for children who learn only one language. A bilingual toddler might mix parts of a word from one language with parts from another language. While this might make it more difficult for others to understand the child’s meaning, it is not a reflection of abnormal or delayed development. The total number of words (the sum of words from both languages the child is learning) should be comparable to the number used by a child the same age speaking one language.

Myth: Speaking two languages to a child may cause a speech or language disorder.

Fact: If a bilingual child has a speech or language problem, it will show up in both languages. However, these problems are not caused by learning two languages. Bilingualism should almost never be used an explanation for speech or language disorder.

Myth: Learning two languages will confuse your child.​

Fact: Some bilingual children may mix grammar rules from time to time, or they might use words from both languages in the same sentence (i.e., “quiero mas juice” [I want more juice]). This is a normal part of bilingual language development and does not mean that your child is confused. Usually by age 4, children can separate the different languages but might still blend or mix both languages in the same sentence on occasion. They will ultimately learn to separate both languages correctly.

Myth: Children with speech or language processing disorders can have more difficulty learning a second language.​

Fact: Children with speech and language disorders may have more difficulty learning a second language but research shows many can do so successfully.

Myth: Bilingual children will have academic problems once they start school.

Fact: The school setting that best suits bilingual children depends on the age of the child. Immersion in an English language-speaking classroom is the best approach for younger children, but is less effective for older students. For example, older kids in high school would be better served to get instruction in the language they know while they’re learning English. Research shows many academic advantages of being bilingual, including superior problem solving and multitasking skills, as well as increased cognitive flexibility.

Myth: If a child does not learn a second language when he or she is very young, he or she will never be fluent.​

Fact: Although the ideal language-learning window is during the first few years of life—the most rapid period of brain development—older children and adults can still become fluent in a second language.

Myth: If a child is not equally fluent in both languages, he or she is not truly bilingual.​​

Fact: Many people who are bilingual have a dominant language, which can change over time, depending on how often the language is used. In the United States, it is not uncommon for a child’s dominant language to become English—school-aged children usually prefer to speak in the majority language instead of the one that is spoken by their parents. Just because someone is not equally fluent in both languages does not mean he or she is not bilingual. Regular use and practice of verbal communication, along with writing and reading, will help children (and adults) retain their second language long-term.

Here is a fun video that highlights the benefits of being bilingual!

Fluency Disorders

What is a fluency disorder?


As defined by ASHA, fluency is the aspect of speech production that refers to continuity, smoothness, rate, and effort. Stuttering, the most common fluency disorder, is an interruption in the flow of speaking characterized by repetitions (sounds, syllables, words, phrases), sound prolongations, blocks, interjections, and revisions, which may affect the rate and rhythm of speech.

A fluency disorder is often referred to as “stuttering,” when in reality stuttering is a type of fluency disorder. There are a few other types of fluency disorders that people are not aware of:

Stuttering – is to talk with continued involuntary repetition of sounds, especially with initial consonants. Someone who stutters knows what they want to say, they just have a hard time getting it out. A person will mostly show atypical disfluencies and speak at a relatively normal rate.

Cluttering – is characterized by a rapid rate of speech, erratic rhythm, and poor syntax or grammar, making speech difficult to understand. Someone who clutters may not fully know what they want to say, but continue talking as if they do. They mostly show typical disfluencies and speak at a very fast rate.

Neurogenic Stuttering – is more commonly seen in adults and develops after an injury or disease in the central nervous system.

  • Stroke
  • TBI
  • Tumor
  • Degenerative disease, etc.

Typically before the incident or diagnosis, the person had normal speech. Characteristics include bursts of speech, broken words, and atypical pauses and hesitations. Neurogenic stuttering is often secondary to dysarthria, aphasia, and apraxia of speech.


If you or a loved one is experiencing issues with fluency, call Christine Wilson today!


Now Hiring!


Christine Wilson is hiring!  Full-time job with flexible hours.  Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist wanted.  Must have 2-3 years experience with Autism and Apraxia. No SLPA’s. Must have FL state license and CCC’s.

Our therapy center offers the latest in technology with the personal attention of a private practice.  If you think you would be a good fit for our practice, please send resumes to:! Please use this email if you have any further questions!

Our address is:

5383 Primrose Lake Cir, Ste B
Tampa, Florida 33647

Better Speech & Hearing Month!

Better Hearing & Speech Month 2017

Each May, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and role of ASHA members in providing life-altering treatment.

For 2017, our theme is “Communication: The Key to Connection.” We have many resources to help you celebrate all month long. Please check back for the latest materials and information on BHSM activities.

Check out this coloring page and talk to your child about some keys to communication!