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 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

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