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Tongue twisters for beginners

PUBLISHED: 14:02 07 November 2018

Illustration from Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation (1836 American ed.) Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Illustration from Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation (1836 American ed.) Picture: Wikimedia Commons


Repeat after me: how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. Nowm say it faster...

Red lorry. 
Picture: ArchiveRed lorry. Picture: Archive

Who knew there was an International Tongue Twister Day?

Maybe no one could quite bring themselves to say it.

Being of a theatrical bent, I find that slightly sadistic directors delight in warming up their cast with the fiendish, alliterative phrases.

It is, I allow, a good way to pronounce and appreciate one’s consonants but it is much more fun to watch other people mis-articulating.

Yellow lorry. Picture: Su AndersonYellow lorry. Picture: Su Anderson

And so here, for tongue-twister day are my top ten most difficult twisters for kids. Each one should be repeated at least three times and at a rapid pace.

1. Red lorry, yellow lorry - to my mind the hardest of the lot, small but lethal.

2. The Leith police dismisseth us - a slightly archaic conjugation of the verb to dismiss but it’s the “eth” that will get

3. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

4. Round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran (longer versions of this are available)

5. Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches

6. She sells sea shells on the sea shore

7. A proper copper coffee pot

8. Truly rural

9. The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick. (according to the Guinness Book of Records, this is the toughest tongue-twister of all - I would have trouble just remembering it).

10. He threw three free throws.

In fact, according to the official tongue-twister day blurb, Peter Piper was a real person, a man renowned for his taste in spices and who became immortalised as a result. He was a one-armed French horticulturist... and a pirate ooh-arrr. But that means, of course, that he is actually Pierre Poivre.

The way to celebrate International Tongue Twister Day is to practice, recite and share your favourite tongue twisters with friends and family. Or, you could try creating your own, why not?

The classically trained verbaliser (step forward Jacob Rees-Mogg) might like to tackle a Latin tongue twister such as: O Tite tute Tati tibi tanta tyranne tulisti! (trans. O you tyrant, Titus Tatius; such things you made happen! (Ennius, poet)

For the remainer: Fischers Fritze fischt frische Fische; Frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritze. (trans from German. Fritz, the fisherman’s son, fishes for fresh fish; For fresh fish fishes Fritz, the fisherman’s son)

And in Welsh: Oer yw eira ar Eryri. (trans. Cold is the snow on Snowdon).

Tongue-twisters − best tackled before a glass of wine.

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