From ‘Around the rugged rock, the ragged rascal ran’ to ‘red leather, yellow leather’ one aspect of mastering a language is being able to master its tongue twisters. They are always decidedly odd sentences:
- Combien de sous sont ces saucissons-ci? Ces saucissons-ci sont six sous (French): “How much are these sausages here? These sausages here are six cents”.
- Zwei schwarze schleimige Schlangen sitzen zwischen zwei spitzen Steinen und zischen (German): “Two black slimy snakes sit between two pointed stones and hiss”.
Other favourites in the European arena include:
- Měla babka v kapse brabce, brabec babce v kapse píp. Zmáčkla babka brabce v kapse, brabec babce v kapse chcíp (Czech): ”Grandma had a sparrow in her pocket and the sparrow made a sound. Grandma pressed the sparrow and it died”.
- Als vliegen achter vliegen vliegen, vliegen vliegen vliegensvlug (Dutch): ”If flies fly behind flies, flies will fly like lightning”.
- Król Karol kupił Królowej Karolinie korale koloru koralowego (Polish): ”King Karl bought Queen Caroline coral-colored bead”.
- Far, Får får får? Nej, inte får får får, får får lamm (Swedish): ”Father, do sheep have sheep? No, sheep don't have sheep, sheep have lambs”.
- W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie (Polish): "In the town of Szczebrzeszyn a beetle buzzes in the reeds".
As for the English language, we are provided with the following:
- How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck all the wood that he could if a woodchuck could chuck wood
- Sister Sue sells sea shells. She sells sea shells on shore. The shells she sells. Are sea shells she sees. Sure she sees shells she sells
- You've known me to light a night light on a light night like tonight. There's no need to light a night light on a light night like tonight, for a night light's a slight light on tonight's light night
Some short words or phrases ‘become’ tongue-twisters when repeated, a number of times fast (try it):
- Thin Thing
- French Friend
- Red Leather, Yellow Leather
- Unique New York
- Sometimes Sunshine
- Irish Wristwatch
- Big Whip
The original concept and examples featured on this page have been provided by Adam Jacot de Boinod