/k/ and /g/

Help Your Child Pronounce /k/ and /g/


/k/ sounds, like in “car,” and /g/ sounds, like in “go,” are among the earlier developing sounds in a child’s repertoire. These sounds tend to emerge after bilabial sounds (/p, b, m/) are mastered, and most children will be consistently using /t, d, n/ sounds as well. While there is always a range for development, most children will master /k/ and /g/ sounds before 4 years old.

Understanding Pronunciation of /k/ and /g/:

  • Place of production: /k/ and /g/ sounds are produced in the same place – the back of the Help Your Child Pronounce /k/ and /g/mouth. Formally classified as “velars,” these sounds are often referred to as “back sounds.” The tongue is elevated in the back, making contact with the velum or “soft palate.” Typically errors in place of production are most common for these sounds.
  • Manner of production: These sounds are classified as “stops” or “plosives,” meaning that the sound does not get continuously pushed out, like it would with an /s/, for example. There is a burst of sound when producing a /k/ or /g/ sound alone.
  • Voicing: /k/ and /g/ place and manner of production are identical, however these two sounds differ when it comes to voicing. /k/ is the voiceless pair to /g/’s voiced sound. For example, when producing a /k/ sound, our vocal chords are off (not vibrating), however when producing a /g/ sound, our vocal chords are on and vibrating. Try it – put your hand on your throat and feel the vibration when producing a /g/, and feel the difference when producing an /k/! Many children will understand the difference between the two sounds but may substitute one for the other.

These sounds are integral for a child’s overall speech intelligibility, however there are common errors that are often seen for /k/ and /g/ sounds. These sounds are produced in the “back” of the mouth, and children who error will tend to substitute “front” sounds for /k/ and /g/. For example, a child who is demonstrating fronting may ask for “teas” when intending to play with keys, or may ask for “tate” rather than cake! When fronting /g/ sounds, children may explain “frod” for frog, or even “dorilla” for gorilla. These errors are common, however, may warrant remediation if they persist past 3 years old.

Click here to understand why pronouncing /r/ is so hard!

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lisps: why they happen

Lisps: Why They Happen

Lisps, or /s/ and /z/ distortions, can happen for a variety of reasons. In younger children, these distortions are expected, but once children reach 5 years old, these distortions are no longer age-appropriate. These sounds can be difficult for children to produce, and require 3 main factors for accuracy: tongue placement (behind the teeth), manner of production (fricative, or pushing air out continuously through a small opening), and voicing (voiceless for /s/, and voiced or vibrating vocal chords for /z/).

The problem with lisps:lisps: why they happen

/s/ and /z/ lisps can negatively impact a child’s overall speech intelligibility, which can make communication difficult. At an age of rapid speech and language growth, children with lisps may find it challenging to communicate with peers and family.

The most common lisp types are interdental and lateral:

  • Interdental: An interdental lisp occurs when a child’s tongue is placed between his teeth (similar to a /th/ sound), as opposed to staying behind his teeth. This placement is very common in younger children and is age-appropriate until around 5 years old. Interdental lisps can be treated through targeting tongue placement and working to keep a child’s tongue back behind his teeth.
  • Lateral: A lateral lisp occurs when a child has difficulty with /s/ and /z/ manner of production. For these children, air flow is escaping out the sides of their mouth, as opposed to through the middle. This production is never age-appropriate, and therapy is necessary to modulate air flow to a more accurate placement.

Children with /s/ and /z/ lisps are at greater risk for distortions on /ch/ (church), /sh/ (shoe), and /dz/ (jump), and /jz/ (treasure). Should you have concerns about your child’s speech abilities and how a lisp may be impacting his intelligibility, a licensed speech-language pathologist can help!

Click here to read Tipper vs. Dipper: How to Produce the /s/ and /z/ Sounds.