Electrolarynx

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Electrolaryngeal speech
И
Encoding
Entity (decimal)И
Unicode (hex)U+0418

An electrolarynx, sometimes referred to as a "throat back", is a medical device about the size of a small electric razor used to produce clearer speech by those people who have lost their voicebox, usually due to cancer of the larynx. The most common device is a handheld, battery-operated device pressed against the skin under the mandible which produces vibrations to allow speech;[1] other variations include a device similar to the "talk box" electronic music device, which delivers the basis of the speech sound via a tube placed in the mouth.[2] Earlier non-electric devices were called mechanical larynxes. Along with developing esophageal voice, using a speech synthesizer, or undergoing a surgical procedure, the electrolarynx serves as a mode of speech recovery for laryngectomy patients.[2][3]

The Voice Quality Symbol for electrolaryngeal phonation in speech is И, approximating the symbol for electricity.

Overview[edit]

Initially, the pneumatic mechanical larynx was developed in the 1920s by Western Electric. It did not run on electricity, and was flawed in that it produced a strong voice. Electrolarynxes were introduced in the 1940s, at a time when esophageal speech was being promoted as the best course in speech recovery; however, since that technique is difficult to master, the electrolarynx became quite popular. Since then, medical procedures, such as the tracheo-oesophageal puncture, and the rarely performed laryngeal transplantation surgery, have been created to enable speech without continued dependence on a handheld device.[2][3]

External media
Audio
Using A New Voice To Enjoy Life After Cancer (2:54), StoryCorps[4]
Video
Communication after laryngectomy (8:58), South East Coast Laryngectomy Support Groups (UK)[5]

The use of an electrolarynx can cause social issues, for instance difficulty ordering food, drinks, or other items in noisy environments;[5] or, when answering a telephone, having the caller respond, "Am I talking to a computer?"[4]

However, quality-of-life improvements due to electrolarynx usage are generally significant. One user states:

People are really very kind once they realize what the situation is. I may go into a restaurant once, and if I go back there a year later, and it's the same woman at the front desk, she'll say, "Where have you been? We haven't seen you for a while." So, I feel like a movie star...

I'm really very blessed in my life. I am happier now, without my voice, than I've ever been with my voice. It's a small price to pay for being alive and enjoying life. So I am very happy where I am now.[4]

Traditional electrolarynxes produce a monotone buzz that the user articulates into speech sounds, resulting in the characteristic "robotlike" voice quality. However, in the 1990s, research and commercial multi-tone devices began to be developed, including discrete-tone devices using multiple-position switches[6] or multiple buttons;[7][8] as well as variable-tone devices controlled by single pressure-sensitive buttons,[9] trackballs,[10] gyroscopes,[11] touchpad-like input devices,[12] or even electrical detection of the movement of neck muscles.[13] In addition to allowing speakers of non-tonal languages such as English to have a more natural speaking voice,[6][7][9][13] some of these newer devices have allowed speakers of tonal languages such as Mandarin Chinese to speak more intelligibly.[10][11]


Notable fictional users[edit]

Fictional characters notable for their use of an electrolarynx include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Department of Otolaryngology. "Electrolaryngeal Speech". Eastern Virginia Medical School. Archived from the original on 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  2. ^ a b c Only Human; Cineflix (2018-06-20). Speaking with a Dead Man's Voice by Organ Transplant Surgery | Only Human. YouTube. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  3. ^ a b Krishnan, Giri; Du, Charles; Fishman, Jonathan M.; Foreman, Andrew; Lott, David G.; Farwell, Gregory; Belafsky, Peter; Krishnan, Suren; Birchall, Martin A. (August 2017). "The current status of human laryngeal transplantation in 2017: A state of the field review". The Laryngoscope. 127 (8): 1861–1868. doi:10.1002/lary.26503. ISSN 1531-4995. PMID 28224630.
  4. ^ a b c Forman, Rene; Reiman, Nadia; Esty-Kendall, Jud; radio station KCRW (2012). "Using A New Voice To Enjoy Life After Cancer". StoryCorps. National Public Radio. Retrieved February 13, 2012. Also hear the audio at NPR
  5. ^ a b Communication after laryngectomy. YouTube. South East Coast Laryngectomy Support Groups (UK). 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  6. ^ a b Helms, Dutch (December 2004). "Whispers on the Web - December 2004". Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  7. ^ a b "Servox Digital Electro Larynx Speech Aid". 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  8. ^ "Nu-Vois III Electro-Larynges". Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  9. ^ a b "The TruTone™ Electrolarynx". 2008. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  10. ^ a b Wan, Congying; Wang, Erqiang; Wu, Liang; Wang, Supin (2012). "Design and evaluation of an electrolarynx with Mandarin tone-control function". Audio, Language and Image Processing (ICALIP), 2012 International Conference on. doi:10.1109/ICALIP.2012.6376692.
  11. ^ a b Shakya, Bicky; Bharam, Vishal; Merchen, Alexander (2014). "Development of an Electrolarynx Capable of Supporting Tonal Distinctions in Mandarin" (PDF). Trinity College (Connecticut). Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  12. ^ "Electrolarynx Speech Aid » by Labex". labextrade.com. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  13. ^ a b Kubert, Heather L.; Stepp, Cara E.; Zeitels, Steven M.; Gooey, John E.; Walsh, Michael J.; Prakash, S. R.; Hillman, Robert E.; Heaton, James T. (2009-01-19). "Electromyographic control of a hands-free electrolarynx using neck strap muscles". Journal of Communication Disorders. 42 (3): 211–225. doi:10.1016/j.jcomdis.2008.12.002. PMC 3748802. PMID 19233382.