Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tongue Twisters in English

Tongue Twisters: Simple Phrases

What are tongue twisters? Simply it is a phrase. It is designed to make you understand pronunciation and accent. Yes. You might have undergone the difficult phase of repeating the tongue twisters to improve your pronunciation and accent during your school days. According to Oxford English Dictionary, tongue twister is "a sequence of words, often alliterative, difficult to articulate quickly." Another definition from explains tongue twister as 'a word or group of words difficult to articulate rapidly, usually because of a succession of similar consonantal sounds ...' 'It is an expression that is difficult to articulate clearly.'

In the opinion of Wikipedia, 'tongue-twisters may rely on similar but distinct phonemes, unfamiliar constructs in loanwords, or other features of a language.'


Most of the tongue-twisters employ a combination of alliteration and rhyme. You may notice the sequences of sounds repeats two to three times with a change in sequences. Consider this example,

'She sells sea shells on the sea shore.
The shells that she sells are sea shells I'm sure.'


Named after the British scholar Reverend William Archibald Spooner, the Spoonerism is an inadvertent transposition of the sounds of two words - usually the initial sounds - especially such a transposition that turns out to produce an interesting or amusing result. Consider the following example:

It is kiss to mary to cuss the bride.

My Tongue Twister Collection

I collected a set of tongue twisters to people who are interested to learn and practice. Under reference I have given useful Websites on tongue twister.

1) Can you imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie?

2) Fresh fried fish,
Fish fresh fried,
Fried fish fresh,
Fish fried fresh.
Freshly fried fresh flesh.

3) Give papa a cup of proper coffee in a copper coffee cup.

4) Good blood, bad blood.

5) How many saws could a see-saw saw if a see-saw could saw saws?

6) If two witches would watch two watches

Which witch would watch which watch?

7) Lesser leather never weathered wetter weather better.

8) Lily ladles little Letty's lentil soup.

9) My dame hath a lame tame crane,

My dame hath a crane that is lame.

10) Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

11) Red leather, yellow leather.

12) Red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry, yellow lorry.

13) Say this sharply, say this sweetly,

Say this shortly, say this softly.

Say this sixteen times in succession.

14) She sells six sea shells on the sea shore

The shells that she sells are sea shells I'm sure.

So if she sells sea shells on the sea shore,

I'm sure that the shells are sea shore shells.

Six thick thistle sticks. Six thick thistles stick.

Shy Shelly says she shall sew sheets.

15) Swan swam over the sea,

Swim, swan, swim!

Swan swam back again

Well swum, swan!

16) The crow flew over the

river with a lump of raw liver.

17) Which witch wished which wicked wish?

18) Who washed Washington's white woolen underwear

when Washington's washer woman went west?

[Note: I have selected the tongue twisters from the Websites shown below]

Useful Websites on Tongue Twisters:

5) -

6) 1st International Collection of Tongue Twisters - 2712 examples in 107 languages as of September 4, 2006

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