My Dinky Note

Aditya Arie Nugraha's weblog

The Speech Chain and Phonetics

with 20 comments

speech (SAY WORDS) /spiːt∫/ noun

  1. [U] the ability to talk, the activity of talking, or a piece of spoken language:
  2. Children usually develop speech in the second year of life.
    People who suffer a stroke may experience a loss of speech.

  3. [U] the way a person talks:
  4. His speech was slurred and I thought he was drunk.

  5. [U] the language used when talking:
  6. Some expressions are used more in speech than in writing.

  7. [C] a set of words spoken in a play:
  8. Do you know the words to Hamlet’s famous speech at the beginning of Act III?

(taken from Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Why is speech so important? Speech is one of many factors that makes human culture possible to develop day-by-day, year-by-year, century-by-century. Using speech, humans can communicate each others and share their knowledge, experiences, and even ideas.

The Speech Chain

The Speech Chain

(from Denes & Pinson, 1993)

According to picture above, there are 5 ‘state’ in the speech chain, i.e. Linguistic Level (Speaker Side), Physiological Level (Articulatory), Acoustic Level, Physiological Level (Auditory), and Linguistic Level (Listener Side)

At linguistic level (speaker side), human will select, combine, and order suitable words into suitable sentences. Note that words are comprised of syllables and syllables are comprised of phonemes. Then, the ‘state’ move to physiological level (articulatory), which will involve neural and muscular activity, based on the input signal (phoneme) from the previous ‘state’. The muscular activity will form the articulator in a certain shape, so that the vocal tract for a specific phoneme is formed. The ‘state’ moves to acoustic level when there is air flowing through the vocal tract from the lungs. At this level, speech sound wave is generated and then transmitted on the medium of air. When the speech sound wave reaches listener’s ears, the ‘state’ moves to physiological level (auditory). The incoming wave will activates the hearing mechanism, which then involve neural activity in the hearing and perceptual mechanism. The speech chain is completed on the linguistic level (listener Side) when the listener recognizes the words and sentences produced by the speaker.


Phonetics is the study of speech sounds. From the explanation about speech chain above, we know that there are 3 levels which are correspond with speech sounds, i.e. physiological level (articulatory), acoustic level, and physiological level (auditory). Therefore, there are 3 subfields of Phonetics, i.e. Articulatory Phonetics, Acoustic Phonetics, and Auditory Phonetics.

Articulatory Phonetics talks about how speech sounds are produced and how we classify and transcribe speech sounds. Acoustic Phonetics talks about how speech sounds are described acoustically and the acoustic properties of speech sounds. And, Auditory Phonetics talks about how speech sounds are received and perceived.

For my final-year project, I have to study a lot about Articulatory Phonetics and Acoustic Phonetics.


Written by arie

February 25, 2008 at 1:04 am

20 Responses

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  1. It’s a very nice lecture i’ve ever had.

    yekini mumini tope

    November 10, 2010 at 11:14 am

  2. Best lecture ever.. thks


    January 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm

  3. wow,, it saves me from my assignment!!!


    June 20, 2011 at 10:33 pm

  4. nice .. its help me a lot from my report TY :)) GB


    July 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

  5. nice explanation

    Josephine abutiate

    August 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm

  6. Nice explaination,it help me to understand speech chain beter.


    April 27, 2012 at 2:57 am

  7. Wow this is so well explained.Thanks for helping out.

    Anjola ayodele

    May 22, 2012 at 1:00 am

  8. Very good work! It has broaden my horizon.

    Esagbodje carolyn

    August 16, 2012 at 12:12 am

  9. Nice one. It trows more knowledge

    Saka kabiru babatunde

    January 13, 2013 at 2:05 am

  10. That was educative. Can you discuss the processes involved in speech making please?


    January 30, 2013 at 3:50 am

  11. A very nice lecture.

    Ogunwale olalekan

    February 5, 2013 at 6:18 am

  12. good article


    March 9, 2013 at 5:50 am

  13. I like speech chain and I understand the explanation


    March 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm

  14. hmmn yaaa a work made easy really thanks for this vital information


    July 26, 2013 at 6:04 pm

  15. Wow dis article is fantastic,it has realy broaden my knowledge on d concept of speech chain nd phonetics. God bless.


    December 15, 2013 at 7:49 am

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  19. Its nice lecturer

    Jaspreet Kaur

    March 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm

  20. its nice but i need more explanation about speech chain

    kyle milgar galarde

    June 21, 2016 at 11:44 am

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