by Julie A. Daymut, M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech sound production is a complex process that involves
precise planning, coordination, and movement of different articulators
(such as the jaw, lips, teeth, tongue, palate, cheeks, and "voice box").
Correct articulation produces clear speech. Another name for clear
speech is intelligibility.
Errors in speech sound production are known as articulation errors.
Articulation errors are common in children when they first learn to speak.
An example of this is a toddler who says "wabbit" for "rabbit." Most children eventually
outgrow such speech errors, which are a normal part of learning to produce new sounds.
(Note: Regional dialects, such as a "Boston /r/", are not articulation errors.)
When a child demonstrates articulation errors beyond those of typical development, he/she may
need to see a speech-language pathologist (SLP). The SLP evaluates the type of error(s) the child is
making and may develop an intervention or therapy plan. In speech/language sessions, the SLP teaches
the child how to make the sound. He/she shows the child how to move the articulators, what type of sound
it is (a "whistly" sound versus a "stop" sound, for example), and whether to turn voice on or off.
What Are the Types of Articulation Errors?
A child can make the following articulation errors when producing speech sounds: Substitutions,
Omissions, Distortions, and/or Additions. An easy way to remember these is to use the acronym SODA!
Definition: Replace one sound with another sound.
Examples: "wed" for "red," "thoap" for "soap," "dut," for "duck"
Definition: Omit a sound in a word.
(Note: This error affects intelligibility the most, making speech more difficult for the listener(s) to understand.)
Examples: "p ay the piano" for "play the piano", "g een nake" for "green snake"
Definition: Produce a sound in an unfamiliar manner.
Examples: "pencil" (nasalized—sounds more like an "m") for "pencil," "sun" (lisped—sounds "slushy") for "sun"
Definition: Insert an extra sound within a word.
Examples: "buhlack horse" for "black horse," "doguh," for "dog"