Speech sounds, articulation of

Sharynne McLeod, John Bernthal

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter in textbook/reference bookpeer-review


During the first five to six years of life, children develop the ability to produce most of the consonants and vowels of their ambient language within words, sentences, and conversation. Children also learn to articulate speech sounds within the confines of the phonotactics of their ambient language(s); that is, the rules that govern the combinations of speech sounds. Most languages require children to master the production of consonants in different syllable and word positions (i.e., word-initial, within-word, word-final), in consonant clusters (i.e., two or more consonants produced together at the beginning and end of the word, such as in the word plant), and in polysyllabic words (i.e., words of two or more syllables such as hippopotamus). For some languages, the development of speech sounds may also include acquisition of contrastive tones (e.g., Cantonese, Norwegian). According to psycholinguistic theory, acquisition of speech sounds requires the ability to discriminate and perceive speech, store phonological and semantic representations of speech, plan and enact motor programs, and execute the articulatory (motoric) gestures required to produce intelligible speech. The ability to produce intelligible speech is the outcome of mastery of the articulation of speech sounds, in concert with the mastery of prosody (stress, intonation, pausing, fluency), language (semantics, morphology, syntax), and pragmatic skills.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of language development
EditorsPatricia J. Brooks, Vera Kemp
Place of PublicationLos Angeles
PublisherSAGE Publications Ltd
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)9781483346434
ISBN (Print)9781452258768
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Grant Number

  • DP130102545


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