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British student has tongue lengthened to speak Korean

British student has tongue lengthened to speak Korean Now speaks with native accent

Speaking a foreign language often requires some tongue twisting, but one British student struggling with Korean took it a step further - she had her tongue lengthened to help her speak the language.

Rhiannon Brooksbank–Jones, 19, had a shorter than average tongue, which meant she had trouble pronouncing certain Korean words.

"I'd been learning Korean for about two years, and my speaking level was high, but I was really struggling with particular sounds," Rhiannon told the Daily Telegraph.

"It became apparent after a little while that I was having trouble with the Korean letter 'L', which is very frequent and comes from a slightly higher place in the mouth than the English 'L', and that my tongue was too short."

To correct the problem, Rhiannon had a 15 minute surgical procedure called a lingual frenectomy, which involved an incision in the flap of skin that joins the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

Surgery went well and Rhiannon's tongue is now about 1cm longer.

"The surgical procedure was my only option. My pronunciation was very 'foreign', but now I can speak with a native Korean accent," she said.

Rhiannon is now looking forward to studying Korean at university.

This article was published on Fri 12 August 2011

Image © Raymonds Press Partnership

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