The third element of speech production is articulation. Articulation is the term used for all actions of the organs of the vocal tract that effect modifications of the signal generated by the voice source. This modification results in speech events which can be identified as vowels, consonants or other phonological units of a language. In Ladefoged & Maddieson's framework (1996) the relation between a segment and types of phonetic variation is described by a set of features, whereas articulation denotes the supra-laryngeal activity. Articulation performance is classified by
In Laver's framework (1994:131-152) any factor in articulation beyond the location and degree of stricture is regarded as an aspect of articulation. He introduces three general aspects:
Articulation does not explicitly include voice quality factors; it may, however, influence the phonation process, due to the changed coupling between the source and the vocal tract (see section 25).
This a MRI slice of retroflex /i/ articulation. (visit to learn more about recent advances in visualisation of articulation).
The secondary function of articulation is to shape the paralinguistic layer by "coloring" and "bleaching" the phonetic segments with the personality of the speaker. In this second sense articulation could be regarded as the setting, the non-segmental feature.
The prosodic (and metrical) organization of an utterance also includes voice quality factors. The syllables in the chain of continuous speech are pronounced with different prominence. The prominence of a syllable involves the interaction of pitch, loudness, duration and articulatory quality. In most cases a more prominent syllable requires more muscular effort from the speaker.
This muscular tension, but also changes in loudness, duration and articulation are perceived as a change in voice quality. As far as speech production is concerned, as it will be shown, a change in voice quality entails further changes in the phonatory and articulatory settings.