Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
lungs and bronchial tubes; the throat, particularly that part of it which is known as the larynx or, in popular parlance, the Adams apple; the nose; the uvula, which is the soft, pointed, and easily movable organ that depends from the rear of the palate; the palate, which is divided into a posterior, movable soft palate or velum and a hard palate; the tongue; the teeth; and the lips. The palate, lower palate, tongue, teeth, and lips may be looked upon as a combined resonance chamber, whose constantly varying shape, chiefly due to the extreme mobility of the tongue, is the main factor in giving the outgoing breath its precise quality4 of sound.
The lungs and bronchial tubes are organs of speech only in so far as they supply and conduct the current of outgoing air without which audible articulation is impossible. They are not responsible for any specific sound or acoustic feature of sounds except, possibly, accent or stress. It may be that differences of stress are due to slight differences in the contracting force of the lung muscles, but even this influence of the lungs is denied by some students, who explain the fluctuations of stress that do so much to color speech by reference to the more delicate activity of the glottal cords. These glottal cords are two small, nearly horizontal, and highly sensitive membranes within the larynx, which consists, for the most part, of two large and several smaller cartilages and of a number of small muscles that control the action of the cords.
The cords, which are attached to the cartilages, are to the human speech organs what the two vibrating reeds
Note 4. By quality is here meant the inherent nature and resonance of the sound as such. The general quality of the individuals voice is another matter altogether. This is chiefly determined by the individual anatomical characteristics of the larynx and is of no linguistic interest whatever. [back]