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When I brush my toddler's teeth, I want good access to the lingual (inside) side of the lower back teeth, to brush them. Thus, I want my kid with parted lips and teeth and with the tongue pulled away from the lower back teeth. When I say "say [a]"[1], that parts the lips and teeth, but the tongue oftentimes remains resting against the lower back teeth. What can I say ("say […]") to get the desired mouth position?


[1] I think that's the transcription, anyway. The sound I say is the (central?) one I use in dot-com and pot and flop and Tom (not the back [ɑ] in calm or far or con or father). Cf. http://tinyurl.com/qqm8.

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    IMO, linguistics is mostly irrelevant for this. Try parenting.stackexchange.com – prash Aug 24 '14 at 19:30
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    Don't use a vowel, use a consonant. Say "ock", and freeze the /k/ position at the end. That will keep the tongue apex away from the teeth altogether, because the back of the tongue is touching the soft palate right above the uvula. And phonetics (a part of linguistics) is always useful in describing tongue positions. – jlawler Aug 24 '14 at 19:31
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    I think this is a very good question, and a linguistically relevant one as well. – fdb Aug 24 '14 at 22:39
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    @jlawler: some kinds of kissing involve sequences of tongue positions, and it's conceivable that there's an IPA sequence, which if practised, would produce a desirable effect. I'd find that question just as off-topic :). I did my best to avoid cunning linguist jokes. – prash Aug 25 '14 at 0:35
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the proper technique for brushing a toddler's teeth has nothing to do with linguistics. – James Grossmann Mar 11 '15 at 2:51
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Sounds like your toddler is producing a front [a]. You might try getting a back [ɑ] with "say aw" (the sound in father or law, in most US dialects anyway).

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  • Thanks much. I've edited the question to (I hope) clarify it. I'd appreciate if you see whether you wish to emend your answer in light of that edit. – msh210 Aug 24 '14 at 17:55

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