Preface: For differentiation, henceforth 'voiceless' means the phonetic definition;
I define elinguis to mean a layperson's understanding of an absence of human voice or speech.
Source: p 27, The Study of Language (5 ed, 2014) by George Yule
Inside the larynx are your vocal folds (or vocal cords), which take two basic positions.
1 When the vocal folds are spread apart, the air from the lungs passes between them
unimpeded. Sounds produced in this way are described as voiceless.
2 When the vocal folds are drawn together, the air from the lungs repeatedly pushes them apart as it passes through, creating a vibration effect. Sounds produced in this way are described as voiced.
The distinction can be felt physically if you place a fingertip gently on the top of your Adam’s apple (i.e. that part of your larynx you can feel in your neck below your chin), then produce sounds such as Z-Z-Z-Z or V-V-V-V. Because these are voiced sounds, you should be able to feel some vibration. Keeping your fingertip in the same position, now make the sounds S-S-S-S or F-F-F-F. Because these are voiceless sounds, there should be no vibration. Another trick is to put a finger in each ear, not too far, and produce the voiced sounds (e.g. Z-Z-Z-Z) to hear and feel some vibration, whereas no vibration will be heard or felt if you make voiceless sounds (e.g. S-S-S-S) in the same way.
To a layperson, the term 'voiceless' seems counterintuitive because humans can still detect, hear, and listen to voiceless sounds (eg: whispering); to wit, voicelessness = elinguis.
1. So to a linguist, is 'voiceless' NOT 0% sound or voice? To wit, voicelessness ≠ elinguis?
2. If the answer to 1 is affirmative, then why was 'voiceless' selected so carelessly?
Surely this confusing polysemy of 'voiceless' could have been anticipated?