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Laryngeal articulatory function and speech origins

Esling, J. H., Benner, A., & Moisik, S. R. (2015). Laryngeal articulatory function and speech origins. In H. Little (Ed.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2015) Satellite Event: The Evolution of Phonetic Capabilities: Causes constraints, consequences (pp. 2-7). Glasgow: ICPhS.
The larynx is the essential articulatory mechanism that primes the vocal tract. Far from being only a glottal source of voicing, the complex laryngeal mechanism entrains the ontogenetic acquisition of speech and, through coarticulatory coupling, guides the production of oral sounds in the infant vocal tract. As such, it is not possible to speculate as to the origins of the speaking modality in humans without considering the fundamental role played by the laryngeal articulatory mechanism. The Laryngeal Articulator Model, which divides the vocal tract into a laryngeal component and an oral component, serves as a basis for describing early infant speech and for positing how speech sounds evolving in various hominids may be related phonetically. To this end, we offer some suggestions for how the evolution and development of vocal tract anatomy fit with our infant speech acquisition data and discuss the implications this has for explaining phonetic learning and for interpreting the biological evolution of the human vocal tract in relation to speech and speech acquisition.
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