Let’s Speak Speech

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As a Speech Pathology Clinic, we see lots of children with speech errors, or who have trouble making sounds. In this blog, we’ll clear the air about the different types of  speech errors and what our jargon really means. So, let’s speak speech…


Articulation simply means the coordination of parts of your body (lips, teeth, tongue, palate and lungs) to make a sound. If a child is unable to make a sound by itself, they may have what we call an articulation disorder.

Children master different sounds at different ages, but, if errors persist after the age that most children master a sound they may require therapy with a Speech Pathologist. See our free download for more information about the ages children learn to make different sounds.

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Phonology is the organisation of sounds in words and the patterns that they make. If a child is able to make a sound by itself, but has difficulty using it in a word, or uses a different sound in its place this may indicate a phonological disorder.

Some of these patterns (often called ‘phonological processes’) are typical for children to have when developing speech, but often resolve at certain ages. Errors that continue after an age when we would usually see them resolve, or errors that are not typical may require therapy with a Speech Pathologist. See our free download for more information on phonological processes and the age they should resolve.

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Did you know?

In Australian English, our sounds are grouped based on their manner, place and voicing. But what on earth do these things mean?

Manner is the type of sound made. In Australian English, we have the following:

  • Plosives (or ‘stops’) – these sounds are ‘b’, ‘p’, ‘t’, ‘d’, ‘k’ and ‘g’
  • Fricatives – these sounds are ‘f’, ‘v’, ‘th’, ‘s’, ‘z’, ‘sh’, ‘zh’ and ‘h’
  • Affricates – these sounds are ‘ch’ and ‘j’
  • Nasals – these sounds are ‘m’, ‘n’ and ‘ng’
  • Liquids – these sounds are ‘l’ and ‘r’
  • Glides – these sounds are ‘y’ and ‘w’

Placement is where a sound is made in the mouth. For example, the ‘b’ sound is made with just the lips, the ‘t’ sound is made with the tip of the tongue touching the alveolar ridge behind the top teeth and the ‘k’ sound is made with the soft palate and the tongue.

Voicing simply means whether the vocal folds vibrate (a voiced sound) or not (voiceless sound). Try making the sounds ‘f’ and ‘v’. These sounds are made in the same place and have the same manner (they are both ‘fricatives’), the only difference is that ‘f’ does not vibrate the vocal folds and ‘v’ does (you may notice a slight buzzing in your lips and neck when the ‘v’ sound is made).

Lisp 101

One of the most common articulation errors we see is a lisp on the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds. There are 2 common types of lisp:

  • Interdental lisp – this is where the tongue comes forward when making an ‘s’ or ‘z’ sound and can be seen between the teeth. You can usually hear a sound that sounds like ‘th’. It is common for children to have an interdental lisp, but it is not common for this to stay past the age of 4 ½. A lisp might be worked on in therapy before 4 ½ if it is not the only speech error or if it is impacting on a child’s ability to be understood by others.
  • Lateral lisp – this is when air escapes from the side of the mouth rather than straight out the front. This lisp usually sounds ‘slushy’ or a bit like a ‘sh’ sound. It is recommended that any child with a lateral lisp should see a Speech Pathologist for further assessment and therapy as this type of lisp rarely resolves without intervention.

Want to know more?

Speech Pathology Australia have some excellent handouts around Communication Milestones that can be downloaded for free. Small TALK also have a series of free handouts for milestones and a handy communication checklist.

Contact us to book and appointment and have a chat with one of our experienced Speech Pathologists.

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