What is the definition of a speech mechanism?


A speech mechanism is a physiological structure or method to creating sounds for communicating in ways that are understood by others. Examples include physical structures, like the trachea or the nasal cavity, and processes, like articulation and resonation.

The four physical processes of speech are phonation, respiration, articulation and resonation. Each process uses different structures working with one another to produce sound, and all these are speech mechanisms. For example, proper respiration involves the trachea, ribcage, lungs and abdomen. Respiration is not possible without these structures, and therefore proper speech isn't either.

The brain is also a vital speech mechanism because it operates all the individual structures and ensures they are all working together properly. As a result, speech mechanisms are often studied by physiologists. Psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics also study the various mechanisms involved in the production of speech. The understanding of these mechanisms helps to facilitate speech in people that are impaired in their natural speaking abilities. Speech therapists assist patients in modifying their existing speech mechanisms so they can communicate more effectively with other people.

Air flow is required for sound to travel and be heard, making proper breathing a necessity for all the individual speech mechanisms to work properly.

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