Posterior Pharyngeal Wall Position in the Production of Speech

Magen, Harriet S.; Kang, A. Min; Tiede, Mark K.; Whalen, D. H.
February 2003
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Feb2003, Vol. 46 Issue 1, p241
Academic Journal
The posterior pharyngeal wall has been assumed to be stationary during speech. The present study examines this assumption in order to assess whether midsagittal widths in the pharyngeal region can be inferred from measurements of the anterior pharyngeal wall. Midsagittal magnetic resonance images and X-ray images were examined to determine whether the posterior pharyngeal wall from the upper oropharynx to the upper laryngopharynx shows anterior movement that can be attributed to variables in speech: vowel quality in both English and Japanese; vowels versus consonants as classes of speech sounds; sustained versus dynamically produced speech; and isolated words versus sentences. Measurements were made of the distance between the anterior portion of the vertebral body and the pharyngeal wall. The first measurement was on a line traversing the junction between the dens and the body of the second cervical vertebra (C2). The next three measurements were on lines at the inferior borders of the bodies of C2, C3, and C4. The measurements showed very little movement of the posterior pharyngeal wall, none of it attributable to speech variables. Therefore, the position of the posterior pharyngeal wall in this region can be eliminated as a variable, and the anterior portion of the pharynx alone can be used to estimate vocal cavities.


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