"(1) the apparatus by which sound is produced, e.g. strigil, plectrum, etc.;

(2) the meachanics of its utilization, e.g. friction, buckling, air-streams, etc. without reference to any relationship between this and the character of the sound;

(3) the process of translating the physical and biological properties of the apparatus and its mechanics into the physical parameters of sound (e.g. tooth impacts per second into impulses per second).

These three meanings are quite distinct, and usually "mechanism" only means one of them; but at different times it is used in any or all three senses. This appalling confusion can only be cleared up if we say apparatus when we mean apparatus (see therefore, phonative apparatus, sound-production apparatus); mechanics when we mean mechanics - or possibly just phonation, sound productionas they stand; and for sense (3), to avoid repeated circumlocution, use a neologism, for no single word already exists. The best candidate seems to be phonomorphosis, defined as in (3); it is a word neither ugly, complicated, hybrid, nor irregular, and has a clear stymological relationship to its utilization (phonomorphogenesis might indeed better suit the pedant, but its lengtheliminates it).

If these recommendations be accepted, mechanism itself will remain as an invaluable umbrella term for those ocntexts where more than one of the three aspects are to be encompassed by a single word." [1]


  1. Broughton WB. Glossarial Index. Acoustic Behavior of Animals. Acoustic Behavior of Animals. Elsevier; 1963.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith