The tongue serves several purposes:
Contains taste buds for the ability to taste food and differentiate between sour, sweet, bitter, and spicy.
Manipulates food that is being chewed by gripping it and repositioning it between the teeth for mastication.
Helps mix saliva with food in order to form a compact mass or bolus of food.
During swallowing, the tongue helps to push the food bolus or liquids into the pharynx for further digestion.
In speech, the tongue aids in the formation of various consonants, such as d, k, l, n, t, and w.
The tongue is made up of two different types of muscles: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic muscles allow the tongue to change position, protrude, retract, move laterally, or wiggle. Intrinsic muscles allow the tongue to change shape to flat, round, firm, and relaxed.