Why Use Raspberries?

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I just heard the term “velar raspberry.”  I feel silly, but I don’t know what it is or why I should be concerned about it.

Raspberries are grossly-fricated sounds that babies begin to produce between 4-6 months of age.  You know the sound one makes when one sticks the tongue between the lips and blows?  That is a raspberry.  It is a sound children use to express derision– mockery, scorn, distain, ridicule, and contempt.  Raspberries emerge before babbling does, and therefore can be considered a more primitive speech motor pattern than babbling.

Raspberries are produced at the following points along the vocal tract. Try each one to help you understand them:

  • Bi-labial –Put both lips together and blow. Both lips vibrate loosely together.
  • Lingua-labial — Poke the tongue between the lips and blow. Both the lips and the front of the tongue vibrate loosely together.
  • Lingua-velar –– Elevate the back of the tongue up to the velum and blow. The back of the tongue and the velum vibrate loosely together.
  • Tracheal –– The trachea collapses in upon itself so that it vibrates loosely in a raspberry sound.  The vibration occurs on the trachea below the oropharynx but above the larynx.
  • Glottal –– The vocal folds vibrate loosely together, not to make voice but to make a gross raspberry sound (a glottal fry).
  • Nasal –– The snort is an ingressive nasal raspberry.  The velum is vibrating upward against the back nasal tissues.

I use raspberries to teach many basic skills in speech therapy:

Place

When raspberries are taught in all the places named above, they can be used to give a client a basic understanding of place of articulation before he can produce any real phonemes.  This can become his foundation for learning phonemes by place.

Manner

Babies produce raspberries before they produce true fricatives, therefore raspberries can be taught as a gross form of all the fricatives and affricates. Raspberries can be taught in order to stimulate the emergence of these sounds months, even years, before these phonemes can arise.

Voice

Raspberries can be produced with and without voice. Therefore we can use them to teach basic concepts of “voice on” and “voice off” before a child can produce any consonant phonemes.

2 thoughts on “Why Use Raspberries?”

  1. What about the raspberry sound humans adults make when they answer a question with “who knows”

    is there a name for this type of raspberry?

    1. I’m not sure what noise you mean but I assume you mean a sort of non-prolonged bi-labial raspberry; see descriptions above.

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