Tongue twisters provide a frustrating, um no, effective way to warm up. Emerging research in neuroscience also suggests that physical challenges, including learning complex phrases, build new neural pathways that promote brain health through a process known as neuroplasticity. To challenge our mouths and our brains, I scoured the Internet and my own history to locate truly troublesome tongue twisters to test our [I need another good T word here]. Anyway, you get the idea. Go ahead and give these tongue twisters a try. Remember to enunciate.
This tongue twister (TT) comes courtesy of intensive academic research conducted by MIT to find the most challenging tongue twister in the English language. Here’s what they came up with:
Pad kid poured curd pulled cod.
The key to wrapping your mouth around this TT (and probably others) is to break it down into shorter phrases, like two three-word phrases: pad kid poured and curd pulled cod. What is curd pulled cod anyway?
Now, go long with vegetables:
Ruta Barber’s micro-brew braised rutabagas beat Barry Rutter’s buttered rhubarb bagels.
My twin sister once made a rhubarb pie and served it with custard, a combination which is apparently all the rage in England. It’s pretty good!
Bonus: In stage and film productions, the din during crowd scenes is often created by having the extras say “rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb…” This achieves the live sound effect without competing with the scripted dialog. Fascinating.
This next tongue twister or trabalenguas en español is in Spanish. My mom had a beautiful voice and perfect pitch, but she rolled her rr’s in the back of her throat like a Frenchman. If you’ve ever listened to Karl Zéro’s El Bodeguero, you’ve heard something similar to my mom’s rr’s. The Spanish rr is instead trilled in the front of the mouth, just behind the teeth. Recap: French r’s are back of the throat, and Spanish r’s are behind the teeth.
As a child, my mom’s teachers tried to help her learn the Spanish rr by having her recite this classic trabalenguas which she in turn taught to her kids. Para Mami:
Erre con erre cigarro,
erre con erre barril.
Rápido corren los carros
en la línea del ferrocarril
M words feel good. They might not twist your tongue but they definitely tickle your lips.
How often do you express your pleasure by vocalizing Mmmmmmm? Try it. Just saying Mmmmmmm makes me want to go “Mmmmmmm again. And the cool thing is that Mmmmmmm is kind of a universal expression, isn’t it? I mean, if you hear people from China, Greece or even Mars say Mmmmmmm, it’s not tough to figure out what Mmmmmmm means. And, personally, I would want to know what everyone’s Mmmmmmm-ing about. Wouldn’t you?
So today’s tongue twister plays with Ms and, even though money is not always a polite topic, saying money can be fun! So here it is, an original tongue twister created fresh for you this morning over breakfast.
Money-minded managers with money-making minds mind minors who mostly mismanage money.
Because our weather has been so foul and wet (but hey, we need the rain), here is the featured tongue twister for a soggy day.
Lesser leather never weathered wetter weather better!
Or, if you prefer a more animal-friendly version (as I usually do):
Poorer pleather never weathered wetter weather better!
Quick PSA: Please consider donating to ASPCA or better still adopt a friend!
I like to imagine Sylvester the Cat (voiced by the awesome Mel Blanc) saying this next tongue twister:
The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.
Say it 10 times fast. Yeah, right. This one’s tougher than curdled cod, or whatever. And in case you were wondering, a sheik is not a sikh though he may be a geek.
Tongue twisters often provide a bit of good advice if they make any sense at all. This one is a cautionary tale about striving for progress rather than perfection.
Practically perfect people prudently pursue progress and poohpooh perfection.
This one is also good for testing your pop filter, or wetting your microphone if you don’t have a pop filter. This tongue twister is based on an anonymous inspirational quote: “Strive for progress, not perfection.”
Perfectly pronouncing poem or prose may not be possible. But precise practice prods progress.
Here are a few more of the old standards to wrap up this post:
- Round the rough and rugged rock the ragged rascal rudely ran.
- Amidst the mists and coldest frosts,
With stoutest wrists and loudest boasts,
He thrusts his fists against the posts,
And still insists he sees the ghosts.
- Near an ear, a nearer ear, a nearly eerie ear.
- How many boards could the Mongols hoard if the Mongol hordes got bored?
- Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?
- Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks. (Variation on the sheiks with sheep, I think.)