How do we produce speech?

From Professor Simon Kirby’s Garden Talk “How did language begin?
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Producing speech is a complex process that involves the coordination of several different systems in the body, including the respiratory system, the larynx (voice box), the vocal cords, and the vocal tract.

We use our vocal cords, which are two small bands of muscle located in the larynx, to produce sounds. To produce sound, we exhale air from the lungs and through the trachea (windpipe). The air then passes through the larynx, where it vibrates the vocal cords. The vibrations of the vocal cords produce sound waves that are modulated by the shape of the vocal tract, which includes the mouth, tongue, and lips.

As we speak, we use our muscles to control the tension and position of the vocal cords, as well as the shape of the vocal tract, which allows us to produce a wide range of sounds. The specific sounds we produce depend on the position and movement of our vocal cords and vocal tract, as well as the muscles of the face, lips, and tongue.

Learn more about this with our series “Evolution of Language”

How do languages evolve?  From the origins of language to bilingualism, this series journeys into the mysteries of this uniquely human trait and the power it has to change our world.

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