Words index  Vivian Cook

Tongue Twisters

The traditional one everybody knows is:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

Here is another twister from the same 1836 source (Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation):
Billy Button bought a bu+ tter'd Biscuit:
Did Billy Button buy a butter'd Biscuit?
If Billy Button bought a butter'd Biscuit,

Where's the butter'd Biscuit Billy Button bought?

Others taken from V. Cook, Inside Language, Arnold, 1997

Tongue twisters confuse the phonological system in the mind by repeating related sounds over and over.
Repeat each one several times as fast as you can

Unique New York!
Toy boat.
Peggy Babcock.
Mrs Pipple Popple popped a pebble in poor Polly Pepper's eye.
Charlie chooses cheese and cherries.
Old oily Ollie oils oily automobiles.
He ran from the Indes to the Andes in his undies.
Rubber baby buggy bumpers.
Shave a cedar shingle thin.
This thistle seems like that thistle.
Miss Ruth’s red roof thatch.
Any noise annoys an oyster but a noisy noise annoys an oyster most.

Tongue-twisters in different languages
Tres tristes tigres trillaron trigo en un trigal.
(Spanish: Three sad tigers threshed wheat in a wheat field)
Nama-mugi, nama-gome, nama-tamago.
(Japanese: raw wheat, raw rice, raw eggs)
Le ver vert va vers le verre vert.
(French: the green grub goes to the green glass)
Nie pieprz wieprza pieprzem.
(Polish: do not pepper the hog with pepper)
Un limon, mezzo limon
(Italian: one lemon, half a lemon)

Surrealistic aphorisms by Marcel Duchamps
Abominable fourrures abdominales.
(abominable abdominal furs)
My niece is cold because my knees are cold.
Etrangler l’étranger.
(strangle the stranger)

Examples invented for a competition I set for nine-year-old children in Ardleigh, a village in Essex

(who didn't quite understand what a tongue twister is)
Super-sonic sausages.
The stranger strangles Susey with some long stretchy string.

Tongue twisters give me blisters.
Bob and Bill brought bits.
My monkey mistakes my mum’s messy mixture for a monkey.
Trees with green leaves.

Main sources for tongue-twisters

Schwartz, A. (1972), A Twister of Twists, a Tangler of Tongues, Lipincott, Philadelphia
Sanquillet, M. & Peterson, E. (eds.) (1978), The Essential Writings of Marcel Duchamps, Thames & Hudson

An international collection