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Why Do Tongues Get Twisted in a Tongue Twister?
By Paulette
11/7/2012 9:00:00 AM
A big black bug bit a big black bear, and the big black bear bled blood I'm not sure who created it, but today is International tongue twister day. Tongue twisters are silly and make us laugh, but they are also great for getting the mouth warmed up and working on articulation if you are going to give a speech or perform in a show. And they are frequently used in speech therapy for exercising the muscles of the tongue or mouth to improve control. But why do we get tangled up in the words of a tongue twister? In part, it's the tongue and the mouth that get tripped up. The tongue can only move so fast and racing through any sentence too fast can cause a bottleneck. The sounds in tongue twisters are often very similar or are physically created in similar places in the mouth. Certain combinations can be more difficult to string together, and when you add speed to the equation it's easy for the tongue to trip. Our brains also get tripped up by tongue twisters. The production of speech and comprehension of language are very complex processes that call on multiple areas of the brain. In the case of tongue twisters, the brain often gets confused when you are trying to rattle off sounds that are similar. When retrieving a sound that is similar to a previous one, it's sometimes easier for the brain to access the same sound it had previously. With practice, some people are able to improve their ability to navigate swiftly through a tongue twister. As mentioned before, exercising the tongue and muscles of the mouth can improve control, and exercising the brain can strengthen the connections that help in word and sound retrieval and speech. So keep stumbling through she sells seashells by the seashore and see if you can improve.

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