Wednesday Words: Tongue Twisters

You had to know eventually I would get around to mentioning the TONGUE TWISTER!  My father was a speech and preaching double-major in college, and apparently one of his professors used tongue twisters to help students enunciate better.  My dad loved introducing these to his children.  Thus, “She sells seashells by the seashore” was heard more times in my house than “Pick up your shoes.”  (And I still can’t say it 10 times fast!) 

There are basically two types of tongue twisters – either a few lines that are difficult to say in and of themselves or a single line that is difficult to repeat.  For instance, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” is an example of the former and requires practice to master.  An example of the latter is “Flash message,” which isn’t hard to say on its own; but try repeating it 3-5 times in a row, and your tongue starts to tangle! 

Tongue twisters are an integral part of three movie plots that I can think of.  In the classic Singin’ in the Rain, Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor meet with a diction coach to ready themselves for the “talkies” that are taking over the silent film industry.  Here are a few of the twisters mentioned: 

“Sinful Caesar sipped his snifter,
seized his knees and sneezed.”

“Chester chooses chestnuts,
Cheddar cheese with chewy chives.
He chews them and he chooses them.
He chooses them and he chews them.
Those chestnuts, cheddar cheese
And chives in cheery, charming chunks.”

Source: COcOtTe Minute blog

Of course, the fun culminates in the fun song, “Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously.” 

[Technical difficulties]

Then, in My Fair Lady, Professor Higgins tries to teach the cockney Eliza Doolittle how to speak properly using twisters as well.

“In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen.”

“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” 

Most recently in The King’s Speech, teacher Mr. Logue uses a tongue twister to loosen up Prince Albert so that he can speak more smoothly.  (Of course, there is far more than mechanics involved in the prince’s stutter; thus, the movie.)  Here is the one mentioned:

“I have a sieve full of sifted thistles and a sieve full of unsifted thistles, because I am a thistle sifter.”

Here are few more tongue twisters to try: 

There was a fisherman named Fisher
Who fished for some fish in a fissure.
Till a fish with a grin,
Pulled the fisherman in.
Now they’re fishing the fissure for Fisher.

Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks.

Black background, brown background (repeat) 

Tom threw Tim three thumbtacks (repeat) 

Real rock wall (repeat 

Source: English Tongue Twisters

To top this post off, I hereby offer my own rendition of Peter Piper – which I could never say as a child, but finally (check it out, Dad) I have mastered it!

Now what are you favorite tongue twisters?  Can you think of any other movies (or books) that use tongue twisters?  Did you try any of the ones above?  How did it go?

12 thoughts on “Wednesday Words: Tongue Twisters

  1. It has been quite a while since I've really practiced tongue twisters, but one of my 3-year-old son's favorite books is One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss and I find myself tripped up on some parts of the book.

  2. Dudette, that video was impressive, and you're *pretty*.I have thick hick accent, and I talk reaaal sloooow. I did say a few of your tongue twisters, but I said them in slow-mo. LOL

  3. Erin – Dr. Seuss is such a language guy. Love his stuff! Fun to read and say, but easy to trip up on.Tiffany – Very nice, Tiffany! You get an A+.Catie – You're SO sweet! But if the twister had the word "oil" in it, you would totally hear my Texas accent!

  4. I just got the alert for this. Grrr. I'm so bad with tongue twisters. Grace is always wanting me to do Peter Piper, and I'm terrible, lol. Of course she thinks it's hilarious.

  5. I enjoy playing with language, likely why I love tongue twisters, Dr. Suess, making up silly rhyming songs (great way to get reluctant kids to do chores or sit nicely on a long car ride!), and writing. When alone or with the kids, I'll occasionally recite the tongue twisters about the woodchuck, sally at the seashore, and Peter Piper, as well as rubber baby buggy bumpers or the entire Green Eggs and Ham text. Why? I guess because it's fun and recharges my brain.Thanks for sharing. I love your video. Great job! Dad will be proud.

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