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In phonetics, the shaping of the vocal tract (larynx, pharynx, and oral and nasal cavities) by positioning mobile organs (such as the tongue) relative to other parts that may be rigid (such as the hard palate) and thus modifying the airstream to produce speech sounds. Articulators include the tongue, lips, teeth and upper gum ridge, hard and soft palate, uvula, pharyngeal wall, and glottis. Primary articulation refers either to where or how the vocal tract is narrowed or blocked to produce a consonant, or to the tongue contour, lip shape, and larynx height that determine the sound of a vowel. Other articulators may be used to produce a secondary articulation such as palatalization (the front of the tongue approaching the hard palate), glottalization (complete or partial closure of the vocal cords), or nasalization (simultaneous passage of air through the nasal and oral tracts).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on articulation, visit Britannica.com.