A Glossary Of Speech Therapy Terms: P-R

A Glossary Of Speech Therapy Terms: P-R |District Speech Therapy Services Speech Language Pathologist Therapist Clinic Washington DC

Understanding the terminology as it relates to your personal health is one of the most important aspects to your speech therapy progress.

After all, you’ll need to understand the information your speech therapist is giving you before you can follow their health care advice.

Your speech therapist will spend some time making sure that you understand what they’re telling you, but there’s only so much time in a single appointment.

As a Washington DC speech therapist, we are passionate about patient education.

That’s why here at District Speech, we’ve put together this series of articles to help you better understand all the terminology that comes with speech therapy.

In this series, we’ve done several glossary articles – , , , and .

In this post, we cover P, Q, and R.

Keep reading to hear more about speech therapy terminology.


Your palate is the roof of your mouth.

It includes multiple areas, such as the anterior portion (hard palate) and the posterior portion (soft palate/or velum).

Certain conditions, such as cleft lip and cleft palate, can interfere with your palate’s functioning and may lead to speech and language difficulties.


Preservation refers to a tendency to continue speaking even when it becomes inappropriate.

People struggling with preservation are incapable of stopping or modifying their behavior.

Some types of preservation involve repeating phrases, words, or sounds.

Other types involve continuing a conversation despite it being inappropriate to do so.

This is more common in those who are neurodivergent, including those with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.

RELATED: Frequently Asked Questions About Autism Spectrum Disorder


A phoneme is a small, distinct unit of sound which helps to distinguish one word from another.

For instinct, the words “tap” and “tab” are distinguished by their ending phonemes.

Proper pronunciation of the word “tap” requires the “p” phoneme whereas the “b” phoneme is required to pronounce “tab”.

Some disorders, such as lisps and cleft palate, can affect your ability to pronounce phonemes.

Phonological Processes

Phonological processes are a technique used by children when attempting to produce more complex words.

Phonological processes may either be developmental or idiosyncratic.

Let’s take a closer look at what that means.

Developmental Phonological Processes

Developmental phonological processes are common in children and a sign of typical speech development.

They are particularly helpful for your child to say words which are otherwise challenging to produce.

For instance, many children struggle with pronouncing the word “spaghetti” and instead ask for “spigetty”.

Another example is changing consonants, such as saying “wok” instead of “rock”.

Idiosyncratic Phonological Processes

In contrast, idiosyncratic phonological processes are less common and aren’t characteristic of normal speech development.

Instead, they’re unique to the child.

For example, instead of replacing a hard to pronounce constant with an easier one, some children will drop the constant altogether.

The presence of idiosyncratic phonological processes may be an early sign of a potential speech and language disorder.

Book an appointment with a pediatric speech therapist here at District Speech if you suspect your child’s phonological processes are idiosyncratic.


Phonology is a branch of linguistics which focuses on the study of sound systems of a given language.

In other words, phonology looks at the structure of sound in your speech and how they change within certain contexts.

For instance, a phonologist would be interested in the way your voice changes to indicate sarcasm.

These speech indicators are different depending on your native language.

Thus, accent modification speech therapy often touches on phonology.


Also referred to as vocal range, pitch is a component of your voice relating to sound frequency.

For instance, someone speaking in a low pitch will speak with a low sound frequency.

In contrast, speaking in a higher pitched voice can produce a more chipmunk like sound.

Pitch plays a role in a number of different speech therapy approaches.

This includes transgender voice training for trans women, transgender men, and nonbinary people, speech therapy for voice disorders, and speech therapy for laryngeal cancer


Pragmatics refers to the list of unspoken rules used in languages to determine things like situation context and double meaning.

The meaning behind a specific sentence can’t always be determined at face value.

For instance, sarcasm involves saying one thing but meaning the exact opposite.

It is through pragmatics that you’re able to understand when you’re hearing sarcasm.


Prosody is the melody of speech.

It’s made up of a variety of components including the pitch, intonation, quality, strength, and duration of your voice.

To put it simply, prosody describes the expressiveness of your speech.

We use different techniques to convey meaning in our speech.
For instance, raising your voice can signify either excitement or happiness whereas lowering your voice can signify sadness.

Issues of prosody may occur alongside articulation errors.

If they do, this can be a sign of childhood apraxia of speech.


Your rate is a measure of speech which looks at the speed at which your phonemes, syllables, and words are pronounced.

Your rate of speech is typically measured by your words per minute (wpm).

If you have a cluttering disorder, your rate of speech will be faster than normal.


Your vocal resonance refers to how sound vibrations happen in your oral cavity while you speak.

This is influenced by the position of your larynx and tongue, how wide open your mouth is, the size and shape of your nasal cavity, and more.

Resonance training is also a significant part of transgender voice training, particularly for trans women.


Respiration is the act of breathing.

You use your respiration in many ways during speech.

For instance, taking a deeper breath can help produce a louder, more forceful voice.

What Is Your Palate? | District Speech Therapy Services Speech Language Pathologist Therapist Clinic Washington DC

Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today

Keeping track of all the speech therapy terms used by speech therapists can be challenging, but we’ve got you covered.

At District Speech, we make patient education a top priority.

Give us a call to hear more about how we can work with you to transform your speech.

Book your appointment with District Speech today to see how we can work for you.

District Speech and Language Therapy
1300 I St NW, Suite 400 E,
Washington, DC 20005

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District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.