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Talking without tongue touching roof of mouth

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Ever think about how much the roof of your mouth and top teeth are needed to say words?

When I was studying French in college, I remember that some consonants in English require touching your tongue to the roof of your mouth but the French say the same ones touching the back of their top front teeth - which is part of the difference in accent.  To say the French long U sound - different than "Ew" in English, you form your lips to whistle and try to say a long E.  I wonder how many vowels are possible by doing tricks like that?

I don't think I thought about it again until yesterday.

Yesterday during my root canal, the dentist put a "dam" around the tooth. It looks like a poncho with a square hole in the middle for the tooth to poke through, then plastic extending across the rest of your mouth.

That meant my tongue was separated from my top teeth and roof of my mouth, the dam's plastic didn't work as a substitute, and that meant almost no consonants!

The dentist would ask, from time to time, "Are you ok, Mick?" and I'd have to flash an OK sign with my hand.

On occasion I'd grunt something semi-intelligible.

The doc teased me, telling his assistant, "Mickey's the quietest patient we've had for a while." while I tried to say, "The damn dam," and it came "uh aah aah."

What a relief it was to be able to ask questions after the dam was removed!

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