Sometimes I heard that L2 language learners make a surgery on their tongue in order to gain better pronunciation.


However, it this necessarily true that they achieve better pronunciation after the surgery? Or is it just a difference between the pronunciations of each language that people achieved via childhood that hinders the L2 learners from achieving the correct pronunciation?

And is there any side effect regarding the language skill, such as worse pronunciation of your L1, after the surgery?

This question is about the adult surgery.


Lingual phrenectomy is performed to correct ankyloglossia. Whether or not ankyloglossia has any negative consequences for speech is controversial. This study surveys physician opinions of whether the condition can sometimes cause speech problems (only 23% say yes). It appears that there is a popular belief in Korea that a phrenectomy will "help", but no clinical evidence to support the belief. It is also generally understood that the problem is not that Koreans can't speak Korean because of ankyloglossia, instead it is limited to L2 learning by Korean speakers, as indicated by the fact that ethnic Koreans raises in an English-speaking environment cannot be auditorily distinguished from their non-Korean peers. It's not the hardware, it's the existing software.

  • Thanks for the answer. But I assume your last point is because they are raised as an English-speaker and thus their tongue is trained to speak English from the childhood. In other words I assume the tongue is not determined biologically but by environment. If you have not used your tongue in a way that is needed in other languages for long, then your tongue won't know how to use it, much like native Japanese speakers have hard time discerning r and l sounds. – Blaszard Feb 14 '19 at 7:07

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