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I saw a report on the nightly news yesterday (in Japan) on a surgery in Korea that is becoming quite popular.
In order to speak English well, cosmetic surgeons claim slicing a bit of that vertical membrane that holds your tongue to the bottom of your mouth helps kids pronounce sounds in English that require a lot of upward movement (like l,r etc). One of the clinics in the bit said they do about four kids a month on an out-patient system.
The bit was run parallel with a report on the increase in English-based educational toys sales in Japan and the future of English in this country. The report also showcased some pre-school or elementary Korean kids who, quite frankly, had better pronounciation than I often do (it was not clear to me if those kids had had their tongues fixed).
The report was a bit sensational - look at what those crazy Koreans are doing to their kids - and fits right in with the image that Koreans like plastic surgery. But it is disturbing for other reasons.
To me, part of the fun of English is the accents. It is fun to listen to new sounds and dialects of your own language IMHO. By trying to clean up the sounds coming from English and a second language countries, they are trying to turn international English into accent neutral American (I know American has more than one accent, but the ESL world simply loves the accent lacking American). God, how dull that would be (he says being an American himself...)!
And if the thought of having that membrane under your tongue sliced doesn't give you the willies, I don't know what will...