Tongue twisters

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 spitzigen 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”

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

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