Airstream mechanism

Method by which airflow is created in the vocal tract / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In phonetics, the airstream mechanism is the method by which airflow is created in the vocal tract. Along with phonation and articulation, it is one of three main components of speech production. The airstream mechanism is mandatory for most sound production and constitutes the first part of this process, which is called initiation.

The organ generating the airstream is called the initiator and there are three initiators used phonemically in non-disordered human oral languages:

  • the diaphragm together with the ribs and lungs (pulmonic mechanisms),
  • the glottis (glottalic mechanisms), and
  • the tongue (lingual or "velaric" mechanisms).

There are also methods of making sounds that do not require the glottis. These mechanisms are collectively called alaryngeal speech mechanisms (none of these speech mechanisms are used in non-disordered speech):

Percussive consonants are produced without any airstream mechanism.[4]