Each of us often falls back on our “basic training” – math, grammar, exercises we learned in gym class – to help us solve problems. As a sculptor, I studied anatomy and kinesiology; and as an actor, my basic training included a lot of voice training that helped me think about just how a creature, whose anatomy and physiology I based on skates and cephalopods, could vocalize human language.
” … The production of speech is a highly complex motor task that involves approximately 100 orofacial, laryngeal, pharyngeal, and respiratory muscles. Precise and expeditious timing of these muscles is essential for the production of temporally complex speech sounds, which are characterized by transitions as short as 10 ms between frequency bands and an average speaking rate of approximately 15 sounds per second. Speech production requires airflow from the lungs (respiration) to be phonated through the vocal folds of the larynx (phonation) and resonated in the vocal cavities shaped by the jaw, soft palate, lips, tongue and other articulators (articulation). … ” Wikipedia.
Simply stated, speech requires vigorous muscular action and air. As I imagined how a flat, muscular creature could emit sound, I visualized the Dermalian body pulling itself into a shape that 1) could trap air underneath itself and 2) use its muscularity to push the air out, emitting sound and 3) create specific sounds and variety in pitch by controlling the fine movements of individual muscles and muscle groups.