From earliest times, the tongue has been associated in the public mind with the production of speech. Excision of the tongue was the penalty often selected as suitable punishment for those committing crimes of heresy or blasphemy. This mutilation was intended to prevent any further utterance of an antireligious nature. It was noted, however, that many victims of this ancient punitive measure retained the ability to speak, even when the tongues were cut out "as low down as the throat."1 This supposedly miraculous return of the power of speech was attributed to divine intervention.
Excision of the tongue in modern times is generally limited to cases of malignancy or trauma. Although popular opinion is still of the belief that one's tongue is necessary in order to speak, the almost total lack of reference to rehabilitation of glossectomy cases in the literature might imply no problem exists. It has been
HERBERMAN MA. Rehabilitation of Patients Following Glossectomy: Attempts to Reestablish Articulation and Maintain Normal Nutrition. AMA Arch Otolaryngol. 1958;67(2):182–183. doi:10.1001/archotol.1958.00730010188009
Monkeypox Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.