The Larynx Is an Articulator, Not Just a Glottis: We Need a New Vocal Tract Model
A radical new model of the vocal tract provides details of the lower vocal tract and explains how the laryngeal articulator works. In essence, the traditional vocal tract model that has been used for over a century has been missing a lower half. The Laryngeal Articulator Model identifies and fills that gap, replacing the old model by providing a full account of the structures and articulations in the lower (laryngeal) vocal tract. The rationale for the model is explained through numerous illustrations and case studies of how languages (and individual speakers) exploit the sounds produced within the larynx/pharynx in their phonologies and prosodies. The model is applied specifically to the analysis of voice qualities found in the speech of the world’s languages, generating an elaborated range of phonation types and ‘states of the larynx’. Significantly, this model is also fundamental for the basic description of consonants and vowels. Since linguistic-meaning units are, inescapably, a combined product of the oral and the laryngeal vocal tracts, the model demonstrates the contribution of both articulatory regions for assessing segmental quality, prosodic ‘colouring’, and longer-term quality in a given accent. Experimental phonetic evidence from instrumental observations (laryngoscopic, cineradiographic, ultrasound, MRI) of canonical phonetic and of native speaker productions illustrates how the lower vocal tract articulator functions and integrates with oral vocal tract articulation.