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March 1941


Author Affiliations


Arch Otolaryngol. 1941;33(3):351-377. doi:10.1001/archotol.1941.00660030355002

The larynx is looked on primarily as a sound-producing organ— a structure capable of producing sound waves to be converted by other structures into speech. Practically all physiologic research on the larynx is directed toward these mechanics, and a vast store of knowledge concerning the function of the structure in speech has been accumulated. Obviously, the importance of such a function is not to be minimized; nevertheless, this one-sided view has distorted the proper concept of laryngeal physiology. It has relegated to the background those physiologic activities of vast importance which represent not only the stimulating factor in the early evolutionary development of the larynx but the principal reason for the persistence of this organ through the phylogenetic scale and for its presence throughout the mammalian kingdom.

Like all other mammals, man has a larynx developed not primarily for purposes of speech but rather to serve as a sphincter valve,