Tongue

Tongue

Overview
The tongue is a muscular hydrostat
Muscular hydrostat
A muscular hydrostat is a biological structure found in animals. It is used to manipulate items or to move its host about and consists mainly of muscles with no skeletal support...

 on the floors of the mouth
Mouth
The mouth is the first portion of the alimentary canal that receives food andsaliva. The oral mucosa is the mucous membrane epithelium lining the inside of the mouth....

s of most vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s which manipulates food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

 for mastication
Mastication
Mastication or chewing is the process by which food is crushed and ground by teeth. It is the first step of digestion and it increases the surface area of foods to allow more efficient break down by enzymes. During the mastication process, the food is positioned between the teeth for grinding by...

. It is the primary organ
Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

 of taste
Taste
Taste is one of the traditional five senses. It refers to the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc....

 (Gustation), as much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in papillae and taste buds. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva
Saliva
Saliva , referred to in various contexts as spit, spittle, drivel, drool, or slobber, is the watery substance produced in the mouths of humans and most other animals. Saliva is a component of oral fluid. In mammals, saliva is produced in and secreted from the three pairs of major salivary glands,...

, and is richly supplied with nerve
Nerve
A peripheral nerve, or simply nerve, is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of peripheral axons . A nerve provides a common pathway for the electrochemical nerve impulses that are transmitted along each of the axons. Nerves are found only in the peripheral nervous system...

s and blood vessel
Blood vessel
The blood vessels are the part of the circulatory system that transports blood throughout the body. There are three major types of blood vessels: the arteries, which carry the blood away from the heart; the capillaries, which enable the actual exchange of water and chemicals between the blood and...

s. In human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s a secondary function of the tongue is phonetic articulation
Articulatory phonetics
The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics. In studying articulation, phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of different physiological structures....

. The tongue also serves as a natural means of cleaning
Oral hygiene
Teeth cleaning is part of oral hygiene and involves the removal of dental plaque from teeth with the intention of preventing cavities , gingivitis, and periodontal disease. People routinely clean their own teeth by brushing and interdental cleaning, and dental hygienists can remove hardened...

 one's teeth. The ability to perceive different tastes is not localised in different parts of the tongue, as is widely believed.
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Encyclopedia
The tongue is a muscular hydrostat
Muscular hydrostat
A muscular hydrostat is a biological structure found in animals. It is used to manipulate items or to move its host about and consists mainly of muscles with no skeletal support...

 on the floors of the mouth
Mouth
The mouth is the first portion of the alimentary canal that receives food andsaliva. The oral mucosa is the mucous membrane epithelium lining the inside of the mouth....

s of most vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s which manipulates food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

 for mastication
Mastication
Mastication or chewing is the process by which food is crushed and ground by teeth. It is the first step of digestion and it increases the surface area of foods to allow more efficient break down by enzymes. During the mastication process, the food is positioned between the teeth for grinding by...

. It is the primary organ
Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

 of taste
Taste
Taste is one of the traditional five senses. It refers to the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc....

 (Gustation), as much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in papillae and taste buds. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva
Saliva
Saliva , referred to in various contexts as spit, spittle, drivel, drool, or slobber, is the watery substance produced in the mouths of humans and most other animals. Saliva is a component of oral fluid. In mammals, saliva is produced in and secreted from the three pairs of major salivary glands,...

, and is richly supplied with nerve
Nerve
A peripheral nerve, or simply nerve, is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of peripheral axons . A nerve provides a common pathway for the electrochemical nerve impulses that are transmitted along each of the axons. Nerves are found only in the peripheral nervous system...

s and blood vessel
Blood vessel
The blood vessels are the part of the circulatory system that transports blood throughout the body. There are three major types of blood vessels: the arteries, which carry the blood away from the heart; the capillaries, which enable the actual exchange of water and chemicals between the blood and...

s. In human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s a secondary function of the tongue is phonetic articulation
Articulatory phonetics
The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics. In studying articulation, phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of different physiological structures....

. The tongue also serves as a natural means of cleaning
Oral hygiene
Teeth cleaning is part of oral hygiene and involves the removal of dental plaque from teeth with the intention of preventing cavities , gingivitis, and periodontal disease. People routinely clean their own teeth by brushing and interdental cleaning, and dental hygienists can remove hardened...

 one's teeth. The ability to perceive different tastes is not localised in different parts of the tongue, as is widely believed. This error arose because of misinterpretation of some 19th century research (see tongue map
Tongue map
The tongue map or taste map is a common misconception that different sections of the tongue are exclusively responsible for different basic tastes. It is illustrated with a schematic map of the tongue, with certain parts of the tongue labeled for each taste...

).

Musculature



The eight muscles of the human tongue are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic. The four intrinsic muscles act to change the shape of the tongue, and are not attached to any bone. The four extrinsic muscles act to change the position of the tongue, and are anchored to bone.

Intrinsic muscles

  1. Superior longitudinal
  2. Inferior longitudinal
  3. Verticalis
    Verticalis muscle
    The Verticalis linguæ is found only at the borders of the forepart of the tongue.Its fibers extend from the upper to the under surface of the organ....

  4. Transversus
    Transversus muscle
    The Transversus linguæ is a muscle of the tongue. It consists of fibers which arise from the median fibrous septum and pass lateralward to be inserted into the submucous fibrous tissue at the sides of the tongue....


Vasculature



The tongue receives its blood supply primarily from the lingual artery
Lingual artery
The lingual artery arises from the external carotid between the superior thyroid and facial artery. It can be located easily in the tongue.-Path:It first runs obliquely upward and medialward to the greater cornu of the hyoid bone....

, a branch of the external carotid artery
External carotid artery
In human anatomy, the external carotid artery is a major artery of the head and neck. It arises from the common carotid artery when it bifurcates into the external and internal carotid artery.-Course:...

 and lingual veins which drain into Internal jugular vein. The floor of the mouth also receives its blood supply from the lingual artery. The triangle formed by the intermediate tendon of the digastric muscle
Digastric muscle
The digastric muscle is a small muscle located under the jaw. so digastric muscles are muscle fibers in ligament of treitz ,omohyoid , occipitofrontalis....

, the posterior border of the mylohyoid muscle
Mylohyoid muscle
The mylohyoid muscle is a muscle running from the mandible to the hyoid bone, forming the floor of the oral cavity. It is named for its two attachments, with the prefix "mylo" coming from the Greek word for "molar". These muscles are mesodermal in origin...

, and the hypoglossal nerve is sometimes called Pirogov's, Pirogoff's, or Pirogov-Belclard's triangle. The lingual artery is a good place to stop severe hemorrage from the tongue.

There is also secondary blood supply to the tongue from the tonsillar branch
Tonsillar branch of the facial artery
The tonsillar branch of the facial artery ascends between the Pterygoideus internus and Styloglossus, and then along the side of the pharynx, perforating the Constrictor pharyngis superior, to ramify in the substance of the palatine tonsil and root of the tongue....

 of the facial artery
Facial artery
The facial artery is a branch of the external carotid artery that supplies structures of the superficial face.-Structure:...

 and the ascending pharyngeal artery
Ascending pharyngeal artery
The ascending pharyngeal artery, the smallest branch of the external carotid, is a long, slender vessel, deeply seated in the neck, beneath the other branches of the external carotid and under the Stylopharyngeus...

.

Nerve supply


Anterior 2/3rds of tongue
  • General somatic afferent: Lingual nerve
    Lingual nerve
    The lingual nerve is a branch of the mandibular nerve , itself a branch of the trigeminal nerve, which supplies sensory innervation to the tongue...

     branch of V3 of the Trigeminal nerve
    Trigeminal nerve
    The trigeminal nerve contains both sensory and motor fibres. It is responsible for sensation in the face and certain motor functions such as biting, chewing, and swallowing. Sensory information from the face and body is processed by parallel pathways in the central nervous system...

     CN V
  • Taste
    Taste
    Taste is one of the traditional five senses. It refers to the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc....

    : Chorda tympani
    Chorda tympani
    The chorda tympani is a nerve that branches from the facial nerve inside the facial canal, just before the facial nerve exits the skull via the Stylomastoid foramen...

     branch of Facial nerve
    Facial nerve
    The facial nerve is the seventh of twelve paired cranial nerves. It emerges from the brainstem between the pons and the medulla, and controls the muscles of facial expression, and functions in the conveyance of taste sensations from the anterior two-thirds of the tongue and oral cavity...

     CN VII (carried to the tongue by the Lingual nerve
    Lingual nerve
    The lingual nerve is a branch of the mandibular nerve , itself a branch of the trigeminal nerve, which supplies sensory innervation to the tongue...

    ).


Posterior 1/3rd of tongue
  • General somatic afferent and Taste
    Taste
    Taste is one of the traditional five senses. It refers to the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc....

    : Glossopharyngeal nerve
    Glossopharyngeal nerve
    The glossopharyngeal nerve is the ninth of twelve pairs of cranial nerves . It exits the brainstem out from the sides of the upper medulla, just rostral to the vagus nerve...

     CN IX


Motor
  • All intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the tongue are supplied by the Hypoglossal nerve
    Hypoglossal nerve
    The hypoglossal nerve is the twelfth cranial nerve , leading to the tongue. The nerve arises from the hypoglossal nucleus and emerges from the medulla oblongata in the preolivary sulcus separating the olive and the pyramid. It then passes through the hypoglossal canal...

     (CN XII), except for one of the extrinsic muscles, palatoglossus, which is innervated by CN X of the pharyngeal plexus.

Length


The average length of the human tongue from the oropharynx
Oropharynx
The Oropharynx reaches from the Uvula to the level of the hyoid bone.It opens anteriorly, through the isthmus faucium, into the mouth, while in its lateral wall, between the two palatine arches, is the palatine tonsil....

 to the tip is 10 cm (4 in).

Tongue Physiology


Chemicals that stimulate gustatory receptor cells are known as
tastants. Once a tastant is dissolved in saliva
Saliva
Saliva , referred to in various contexts as spit, spittle, drivel, drool, or slobber, is the watery substance produced in the mouths of humans and most other animals. Saliva is a component of oral fluid. In mammals, saliva is produced in and secreted from the three pairs of major salivary glands,...

, it can make contact
with the plasma membrane of the gustatory hairs, which are
the sites of taste transduction
Transduction
Transduction is a mechanism whereby genetic material may be transferred from the genes of a bacterium to another bacterium. This may include the actual covalent-bonding of new genetic markers...

.

Tongue pathology



After the gum
Gingiva
The gingiva , or gums, consists of the mucosal tissue that lies over the mandible and maxilla inside the mouth.-General description:...

s, the tongue is the second most common soft tissue
Soft tissue
In anatomy, the term soft tissue refers to tissues that connect, support, or surround other structures and organs of the body, not being bone. Soft tissue includes tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, fibrous tissues, fat, and synovial membranes , and muscles, nerves and blood vessels .It is sometimes...

 site for various pathologies
Pathology
Pathology is the precise study and diagnosis of disease. The word pathology is from Ancient Greek , pathos, "feeling, suffering"; and , -logia, "the study of". Pathologization, to pathologize, refers to the process of defining a condition or behavior as pathological, e.g. pathological gambling....

 in the oral cavity. Pathological conditions of the tongue include geographic tongue
Geographic tongue
Geographic tongue, an inflammatory condition of the tongue affecting approximately 2% of the population, is characterized by discolored regions of taste buds or sometimes even cracks in the tongue...

, burning mouth syndrome, tongue necrosis
Necrosis
Necrosis is the premature death of cells in living tissue. Necrosis is caused by factors external to the cell or tissue, such as infection, toxins, or trauma. This is in contrast to apoptosis, which is a naturally occurring cause of cellular death...

, oral hairy leukoplakia, granular cell tumor
Granular cell tumor
Granular cell tumor is a tumor that can develop on any skin or mucosal surface, but occurs on the tongue 40% of the time...

 and squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma , occasionally rendered as "squamous-cell carcinoma", is a histologically distinct form of cancer. It arises from the uncontrolled multiplication of malignant cells deriving from epithelium, or showing particular cytological or tissue architectural characteristics of...

.
Owing to optimal conditions of humidity, temperature and hiding niche between the tongue papillae and inside the pierced tongue
Tongue piercing
A tongue piercing is a body piercing usually done directly through the center of the tongue, and is the most popular piercing site in the western world after the ear and nostril.-History and culture:...

, the tongue is a preferred site for colonization of Candida albicans
Candida albicans
Candida albicans is a diploid fungus that grows both as yeast and filamentous cells and a causal agent of opportunistic oral and genital infections in humans. Systemic fungal infections including those by C...

.

Use in pharmacy


Many infections are often found on or under the tongue. One rare but very possible infection is gonnarhea, characterized by small white bumbs located underneath the tongue. The sublingual
Sublingual
Sublingual, literally 'under the tongue', from Latin, refers to the pharmacological route of administration by which drugs diffuse into the blood through tissues under the tongue...

 region underneath the front of the tongue is a location where the oral mucosa
Oral mucosa
The oral mucosa is the mucous membrane epithelium of the mouth. It can be divided into three categories.*Masticatory mucosa, para-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium, found on the dorsum of the tongue, hard palate and attached gingiva....

 is very thin, and underlain by a plexus of veins. This is an ideal location for introducing certain medications to the body. The sublingual route takes advantage of the highly vascular
Blood vessel
The blood vessels are the part of the circulatory system that transports blood throughout the body. There are three major types of blood vessels: the arteries, which carry the blood away from the heart; the capillaries, which enable the actual exchange of water and chemicals between the blood and...

 quality of the oral cavity, and allows for the speedy application of medication into the cardiovascular system, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract. This is the only convenient and efficacious route of administration (apart from I.V.
Intravenous therapy
Intravenous therapy or IV therapy is the infusion of liquid substances directly into a vein. The word intravenous simply means "within a vein". Therapies administered intravenously are often called specialty pharmaceuticals...

 administration) of nitroglycerin to a patient suffering chest pain from angina pectoris. If the tablet is swallowed, the medication is completely neutralized by the detoxification process of the liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

.

Non-human tongues



Most vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

 animals have tongues. In mammals such as dog
Dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

s and cat
Cat
The cat , also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felids and felines, is a small, usually furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests...

s, the tongue is often used to clean the fur and body. The tongues of these species have a very rough texture which allows them to remove oils and parasites. A dog's tongue also acts as a heat regulator. As a dog increases its exercise the tongue will increase in size due to greater blood flow. The tongue hangs out of the dog's mouth and the moisture on the tongue will work to cool the bloodflow.

Some animals have tongues that are specially adapted for catching prey. For example, chameleon
Chameleon
Chameleons are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of lizards. They are distinguished by their parrot-like zygodactylous feet, their separately mobile and stereoscopic eyes, their very long, highly modified, and rapidly extrudable tongues, their swaying gait, the possession by many of a...

s, frog
Frog
Frogs are amphibians in the order Anura , formerly referred to as Salientia . Most frogs are characterized by a short body, webbed digits , protruding eyes and the absence of a tail...

s, and anteater
Anteater
Anteaters, also known as antbear, are the four mammal species of the suborder Vermilingua commonly known for eating ants and termites. Together with the sloths, they compose the order Pilosa...

s have prehensile
Prehensility
Prehensility is the quality of an appendage or organ that has adapted for grasping or holding. The word is derived from the Latin term prehendere, meaning "to grasp."-Examples:Appendages that can become prehensile include:...

 tongues.

Many species of fish have small folds at the base of their mouths that might informally be called tongues, but they lack a muscular structure like the true tongues found in most tetrapod
Tetrapod
Tetrapods are vertebrate animals having four limbs. Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals are all tetrapods; even snakes and other limbless reptiles and amphibians are tetrapods by descent. The earliest tetrapods evolved from the lobe-finned fishes in the Devonian...

s.

Other animals may have organs that are analogous
Analogy (biology)
An analogy is a trait or an organ that appears similar in two unrelated organisms. The cladistic term for the same phenomenon is homoplasy, from Greek for same form. Biological anologies are often the result of convergent evolution....

 to tongues, such as a butterfly
Butterfly
A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured...

's proboscis
Proboscis
A proboscis is an elongated appendage from the head of an animal, either a vertebrate or an invertebrate. In simpler terms, a proboscis is the straw-like mouth found in several varieties of species.-Etymology:...

 or a radula
Radula
The radula is an anatomical structure that is used by molluscs for feeding, sometimes compared rather inaccurately to a tongue. It is a minutely toothed, chitinous ribbon, which is typically used for scraping or cutting food before the food enters the esophagus...

 on a mollusc
Mollusca
The Mollusca , common name molluscs or mollusksSpelled mollusks in the USA, see reasons given in Rosenberg's ; for the spelling mollusc see the reasons given by , is a large phylum of invertebrate animals. There are around 85,000 recognized extant species of molluscs. Mollusca is the largest...

, but these are not related to the tongues found in vertebrates.

As food


The tongues of some animals are consumed and sometimes considered delicacies. Hot tongue sandwiches are frequently found on menus in Kosher delicatessen
Delicatessen
Delicatessen is a term meaning "delicacies" or "fine foods". The word entered English via German,with the old German spelling , plural of Delikatesse "delicacy", ultimately from Latin delicatus....

s in America. Taco de lengua
Taco
A taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. A taco can be made with a variety of fillings, including beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables and cheese, allowing for great versatility and variety...

 (lengua being Spanish for tongue) is a taco filled with beef tongue
Beef tongue
Beef tongue is the tongue of a cow. The human consumption of beef tongue dates back to the days of Paleolithic hunters, who preferred the fatty portions of the carcass including tongues, as well as organs, brains, feet, and marrow. Beef tongue is very high in fat, at almost 75% of its calories...

, and is especially popular in Mexican cuisine. Tongue can also be prepared as birria
Birria
Birria is a spicy Mexican meat stew usually made with pork, goat, lamb, or mutton, often served during festive periods, such as Christmas, New Year's Eve, Mother's Day, and weddings. Originally from Jalisco, it is a common dish in some Mexican food establishments...

. Pig and beef tongue are consumed in Chinese cuisine. Duck
Duck
Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese. The ducks are divided among several subfamilies in the Anatidae family; they do not represent a monophyletic group but a form taxon, since swans and geese are not considered...

 tongues are sometimes employed in Szechuan
Szechuan cuisine
Szechuan cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, or Szechwan cuisine is a style of Chinese cuisine originating in the Sichuan Province of southwestern China famed for bold flavors, particularly the pungency and spiciness resulting from liberal use of garlic and chili peppers, as well as the unique flavour of...

 dishes, while lamb
Lamb (food)
Lamb, mutton, and hogget are the meat of domestic sheep. The meat of a sheep in its first year is lamb; that of a juvenile sheep older than 1 year is hogget; and the meat of an adult sheep is mutton....

's tongue is occasionally employed in Continental and contemporary American cooking. Fried cod
Cod
Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

 tongue is a relatively common part of fish meals in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and Newfoundland
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

. In Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

 cow tongue is cooked and served in vinegar (lengua a la vinagreta). In the Czech Republic and Poland, a pork tongue is considered a delicacy,and there are many ways of preparing it. In Eastern Slavic countries, pork and beef tongues are commonly consumed, boiled and garnished with horseradish or jelled; beef tongues fetch a significantly higher price and are considered more of a delicacy. In Alaska, cow tongues are among the more common.

Etymology


The word tongue derives from the Old English tunge, which comes from Proto-Germanic *tungōn. It has cognates in other Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 — for example tonge in West Frisian
West Frisian language
West Frisian is a language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. West Frisian is the name by which this language is usually known outside the Netherlands, to distinguish it from the closely related Frisian languages of Saterland Frisian and North Frisian,...

, tong in Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

/Afrikaans
Afrikaans
Afrikaans is a West Germanic language, spoken natively in South Africa and Namibia. It is a daughter language of Dutch, originating in its 17th century dialects, collectively referred to as Cape Dutch .Afrikaans is a daughter language of Dutch; see , , , , , .Afrikaans was historically called Cape...

, tunge in Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

/Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 and tunga in Icelandic
Icelandic language
Icelandic is a North Germanic language, the main language of Iceland. Its closest relative is Faroese.Icelandic is an Indo-European language belonging to the North Germanic or Nordic branch of the Germanic languages. Historically, it was the westernmost of the Indo-European languages prior to the...

/Faroese
Faroese language
Faroese , is an Insular Nordic language spoken by 48,000 people in the Faroe Islands and about 25,000 Faroese people in Denmark and elsewhere...

/Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

. The ue ending of the word seems to be a fourteenth century attempt to show "proper pronunciation", but it is "neither etymological nor phonetic". Some used the spelling tunge and tonge as late as the sixteenth century.

It can be used as a metonym
Metonymy
Metonymy is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept...

 for language, as in the phrase mother tongue. Many languages have the same word for "tongue" and "language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

".

Figures of speech


A common temporary failure in word retrieval
Recollection
Recall in memory refers to the retrieval of events or information from the past. Along with encoding and storage, it is one of the three core processes of memory. There are three main types of recall: free recall, cued recall and serial recall...

 from memory
Memory
In psychology, memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and recall information and experiences. Traditional studies of memory began in the fields of philosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing memory....

 is referred to as the tip-of-the-tongue
Tip of the tongue
The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is the failure to retrieve a word from memory, combined with partial recall and the feeling that retrieval is imminent...

phenomenon
Phenomenon
A phenomenon , plural phenomena, is any observable occurrence. Phenomena are often, but not always, understood as 'appearances' or 'experiences'...

. The expression tongue in cheek
Tongue-in-cheek
Tongue-in-cheek is a phrase used as a figure of speech to imply that a statement or other production is humorously intended and it should not be taken at face value. The facial expression typically indicates that one is joking or making a mental effort. In the past, it may also have indicated...

refers to a statement that is not to be taken entirely seriously; something said or done with subtle ironic or sarcastic humour. A tongue twister is a phrase made specifically to be very difficult to pronounce. Aside from being a medical condition
Ankyloglossia
Ankyloglossia, commonly known as tongue tied, is a congenital oral anomaly which may decrease mobility of the tongue tip and is caused by an unusually short, thick lingual frenulum, a membrane connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth...

, "tongue-tied" means being unable to say what you want to due to confusion or restriction. The phrase "cat got your tongue" refers to when a person is speechless. To "bite one's tongue" is a phrase which describes holding back an opinion to avoid causing offence. A "slip of the tongue" refers to an unintentional utterance, such as a Freudian slip
Freudian slip
A Freudian slip, also called parapraxis, is an error in speech, memory, or physical action that is interpreted as occurring due to the interference of some unconscious , subdued, wish, conflict, or train of thought...

. Speaking in tongues is a common phrase used to describe glossolalia, which is to make smooth, language-resembling sounds that is no true spoken language itself. A deceptive person is said to have a forked tongue
Forked tongue
A forked tongue is a tongue split into two distinct tines at the tip; this is a feature common to many species of reptiles. Reptiles smell using the tip of their tongue, and a forked tongue allows them to sense from which direction a smell is coming. Sensing from both sides of the head and...

, and a smooth-talking person said to have a silver tongue
Silver Tongue
Silver tongue is an expression used to describe a person who is able to clearly and effectively express themselves, or who has a clever way with words. The connotation associated with accusing a person of having a "silver tongue" is, in itself, ambiguous. While at once it is admission of...

.

Cultural aspects


Sticking one's tongue out at someone is considered a childish gesture of rudeness and/or defiance in many countries. The act may also have sexual connotations, depending on the way in which it is done. A farmer from Fabriano
Fabriano
Fabriano is a town and comune of Ancona province in the Italian region of the Marche, at 325 m above sea-level. It lies in the Esino valley 44 km upstream and SW of Jesi; and 15 km ENE of Fossato di Vico and 36 km east of Gubbio...

, Italy was convicted and fined by the country's highest court
Court of Cassation (Italy)
The Supreme Court of Cassation is the major court of last resort in Italy. It has its seat in the Rome Hall of Justice.The Court of Cassation exists also to “ensure the observation and the correct interpretation of law” by ensuring the same application of law in the inferior and appeal courts...

 for sticking his tongue out at a neighbor with whom he had been arguing. Proof of the affront had been captured with a cell phone camera.
Blowing a raspberry
Blowing a raspberry
Blowing a raspberry or strawberry or making a Bronx cheer is to make a noise signifying derision, real or feigned. It is made by placing the tongue between the lips and blowing, making a sound redolent of flatulence. In the terminology of phonetics, this sound can be described as an unvoiced...

 can also be meant as a gesture of derision.

Body arts


Being a cultural custom for long time, tongue piercing
Tongue piercing
A tongue piercing is a body piercing usually done directly through the center of the tongue, and is the most popular piercing site in the western world after the ear and nostril.-History and culture:...

 and splitting became quite common in western countries during the last decades, with up to one-fifth of young adults have at least one body art in the tongue.

See also

  • Electronic tongue
    Electronic tongue
    The electronic tongue is an instrument that measures and compares tastes.Chemical compounds responsible for taste are perceived by human taste receptors, and the seven sensors of electronic instruments detect the same dissolved organic and inorganic compounds. Like human receptors, each sensor has...

  • Language
    Language
    Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

  • Licking
    Licking
    Licking is the action of passing the tongue over a surface, typically either to deposit saliva onto the surface, or to collect liquid onto the tongue for ingestion, or to provide pleasure. Many animals both groom themselves and drink by licking....

  • List of Mendhie buds on the tongue
  • Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon
    Tip of the tongue
    The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is the failure to retrieve a word from memory, combined with partial recall and the feeling that retrieval is imminent...

  • Tongue splitting
  • Tongue cleaner
    Tongue cleaner
    A tongue cleaner is an oral hygiene device designed to clean the bacterial build-up, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue. The bacteria and fungi that grow on the tongue are related to many common oral care and general health problems...

  • Tongue piercing
    Tongue piercing
    A tongue piercing is a body piercing usually done directly through the center of the tongue, and is the most popular piercing site in the western world after the ear and nostril.-History and culture:...

  • Tongue-twister
    Tongue-twister
    A tongue-twister is a phrase that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly, and can be used as a type of spoken word game. Some tongue-twisters produce results which are humorous when they are mispronounced, while others simply rely on the confusion and mistakes of the speaker for their...

  • Vocal tract
    Vocal tract
    The vocal tract is the cavity in human beings and in animals where sound that is produced at the sound source is filtered....

  • Tongue disease
    Tongue disease
    Tongue diseases can be congenital or acquired. Glossitis is a general term for tongue inflammation, which can be caused by various etiologies such as infection....

  • Oral cancer
    Oral cancer
    Oral cancer is a subtype of head and neck cancer, is any cancerous tissue growth located in the oral cavity. It may arise as a primary lesion originating in any of the oral tissues, by metastasis from a distant site of origin, or by extension from a neighboring anatomic structure, such as the...


External links