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For 'speech', meaning a talk, see Public speaking

Speech is when language is used to communicate. Only humans have language. Speech between two people is a conversation.

Speech is made up of sounds that are made when air passes through the voice box and is shaped by the lips, tongue, teeth, nose and palate.

To make speech a person has to be able to:

  1. choose speech sounds
  2. put them into a sequence
  3. produce sound in the voice box
  4. use the lips, tongue, teeth, nose and palate to make the sounds

Difficulties can happen at any stage of this 4 stage sequence. Difficulties at stages 1 and 2 are known as phonological difficulties while problems at stages 3 and 4 are known as articulation diffiulcties or motor co-ordination difficulties. A speech and language therapist can help work out the stage of the sequence that has difficulties and give therapy.[1][2]

Animals do not have speech, but some can communicate with each other by using sounds, or by other means.

A speaker may say something, and if it is heard, what the speaker says may be understood. Sometimes language is difficult to understand. It may be vague,[3] confusing, or even misleading. It may be easy or difficult.

The same speech may be put in different languages, by means of translation.


  1. Bauman-Waengler J. 2000. Articulatory & phonological impairments: a clinical focus'. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
  2. Stackhouse J. and Wells B. 1997. Children’s speech and literacy difficulties. London: Whurr.
  3. = uncertain, unclear