linguist • writer • editor • lecturer • broadcaster
[Thursday 03 January, 2013]
[ah-tik-yoo-lay-shun], articulator [ah-tik-yoo-lay-ter]
How do you speak? Do you just open your mouth and it all comes out without you doing anything? Not exactly. It’s a much more complicated business, with all your vocal organs working together to produce the range of sounds in your language - and working at great speed, too. It takes only a couple of seconds to say ‘it takes only a couple of seconds’ - and that sentence contains nearly 25 sounds.
The way our vocal organs make sounds is called articulation, and any particular part of the vocal organs which helps to make a sound is called an articulator. Some articulators move; some don’t. Make the sound [t], as in too. You’ll feel the tip of your tongue move up to hit just behind your top teeth. It’s your tongue that moves. The teeth wait to be hit. So the tongue is called an active, moving articulator, and the top teeth are called a passive, waiting articulator. Other active articulators are the lips and the lower jaw. And the whole roof of the mouth is one enormous passive articulator.

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