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back to article Boffins devise world's HARDEST tongue-twister

Many of will have heard the tale of a lady who sells seashells on the sea shore. Now it's time for the unnamed beach trader to get a new job because MIT boffins have invented the world's toughest tongue teaser. Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel is mad about difficult rhymes, possibly because her own name doesn't exactly trip off the …

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Coat

But the real prize goes to ...

... anyone who can say "Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel" ten times in succession without doing themselves an injury.

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Coat

Re: But the real prize goes to ...

Presumably best friends with Dr Michael Hfuhruhurr and Miss Anne Uumellmahaye.

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Gimp

Re: But the real prize goes to ...

anyone who can say "Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel" ten times in succession without doing themselves an injury.

It's pronounced "Throat-Warbler Mangrove".

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Anonymous Coward

Didn't have a problem with it oddly.. not a patch on "The sixth sick sheikh's sixth sheep's sick"

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Quite agree

Quite agree - it's not really difficult at all. It doesn't make sense, but it's not difficult.

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FAIL

Boffin?

I think her work is flawed if her only check was " some people gave up halfway through". Everyone here thinks this so-called tongue twister is far easier than the local classic "Ken Dodd's Dad's Dog's Dead"

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Re: Quite agree

Totally agree. I tried and while first time through this "world's hardest" tongue twister gave a slight bit of difficulty, I was then able to rattle off 10 times quickly with no issue at all. That sixth sheik's sheep thing is so damned hard I've never been able to say it fast once, EVER, and never will. Hell, I've never been able to correctly say it slowly, not even REALLY slowly!

Perhaps there is some issue where different people have problems with different sounds repeating, and those of us who have no problem with the "pad kid" one but have problems with the "sheik" one are more susceptible to issues alliterating s's? All I know is that if I can do it easily, it isn't close to the world's hardest, or anywhere in the running.

This is like seeing the article, "world's hardest math problem devised" and solving it in 30 seconds.

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Re: Quite agree

Not only is it not that difficult to say, it doesn't make any sense and so, in my opinion, fails as a tongue twister.

It's not even funny when it goes wrong, unlike "I'm not a pheasant plucker, I'm a pheasant plucker's son, I'm only plucking pheasants until the pheasant plucker comes".

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Perhaps we need to send round the Leith Police...

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Re: Quite agree

I would have gone with "Bad kid poured cold pulled cod." That way it kind of makes sense, and the single 'b' could be expected to trip folk up on multiple repetitions. But I'm not a Wordologist at MIT so what do I know.

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Re: Quite agree

Definitely not that hard. Try reading "The Fox in Socks" to your kids after a long day...blows Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel's attempt out of the water.

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FAIL

Re: Quite agree

Same here: not hard to say and makes no sense.

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Re: Quite agree

or even "Fuzzy duck? Ducky Fuzz!"

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Pheasant plucker

That's definitely the funniest one. So many ways to go wrong, all rude.

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Re: Quite agree

I'm so glad that it isn't just me who a) doesn't find it difficult and b) doesn't understand what the smeg it's supposed to mean!

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RE:"If anyone can say this 10 times quickly, they get a prize," she said.

OK, so where do I send a video and what's the prize?

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Red lorry Yellow Lorry

See title, for me far more difficult.

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Re: Red lorry Yellow Lorry

Irish wristwatch

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Re: Red lorry Yellow Lorry @ Khaptain

Must say that when I was in Chiang Mai, the students had difficulty with "Red river, Yellow river."

Quite a few Chemistry students had difficulty with the concept of "red lead,"

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I'm not the pheasant plucker ...

... I'm the pheasant plucker's son

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Re: I'm not the pheasant plucker ...

... and I'm only plucking pheasants

'til the pheasant plucker comes.

Yup, still gets my vote.

Although one of the later verses is, IMHO, more likely to trip you over:

I'm not the pheasant plucker

I'm the pheasant plucker's wife

Me and the pheasant plucker

have a pheasant plucking life.

I guess this rhyme didn't make the cut as the "downside" of getting it wrong wouldn't appeal to too many. Especially if a newsreader (ill-advisedly) tried it live on air.

Though, considering the number of people who are unable to pronounce "nuclear", I'd say it doesn't take much to be a tongue-twister, these days.

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Re: I'm not the pheasant plucker ...

I think the godbotherer on "Thought^H^H^H^H^H^H^HPlatitude of the Day" on Radio 4 gave it a go the other day...

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Re: I'm not the pheasant plucker ...

... I'm the pheasant plucker's mate,

and I am here plucking pheasants

'cause the pheasant plucker's late.

Any more and there will be nine pleasant pheasant pluckers presently plucking pheasants on a pleasant pheasant plucking day.

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Stu

Re: I'm not the pheasant plucker ...

It's pronounced nucular -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoASZyihalc

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Re: I'm not the pheasant plucker ... @ Pete 2

Nuclear - or as Homer Simpson says: "That's pronounced 'nukular.'"

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Assume "worlds hardest in English....."....

....becuase there are some devlish ticklers in other languages.

Try these out from our Saxon cohorts.

Im dichten Fichtendickicht picken die flinken Finken tüchtig.

Jauchzende Jubeljodeljauchzerjungen jubeln jauchzend Jubeljodler Jauchzende Jubeljodler jubeln jauchzende Jubeljodeljauchzerjungen.

Klitzekleine Kinder können keinen Kirschkern knacken. Keinen Kirschkern können klitzekleine Kinder knacken.

And my favourite :

Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid

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Re: Assume "worlds hardest in English....."....

Eichhörnchen, German for squirrel is a tongue twister by itself.

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Re: Assume "worlds hardest in English....."....

I don't think I can even *read* the second one...

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Re: Assume "worlds hardest in English....."....

Google Translate also has trouble with the second. Well, more trouble:

In the dense spruce thickets pick the nimble finches efficient.

Jubeljodeljauchzerjungen exultant cheer jubilantly exultant jubilation jubilation yodel yodel exultant cheer Jubeljodeljauchzerjungen.

Tiny children can not cherry stone crack. None cherry stone can crack tiny children.

Red cabbage remains red cabbage and wedding dress wedding dress remains

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@Nigel11

In the dense spruce thickets pick the nimble finches efficient.

Whatever that was translated from MUST be the world's hardest, because even after it is translated into English it is a damn good tongue twister! Much harder than the "world's hardest" from the article, at least.

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I wonder if there is a cultural element to this...

I used to work with a French chap who was relatively new to speaking English as a primary language and he could say any tongue-twister you threw at him perfectly without any difficulty.

I wonder if it's the way we learn our language naturally from birth that pre-disposes us to find combinations of phonetically similar words tricky?.

This guy was also a bit of a sportsman, football, rugby (played for the national under 21's or somesuch) etc and was quite proud of it so we thought joing our cricket team would deflate his gallic superiority a bit. He had none of that, took to it instantaneously like a pro and was soon our best batsman/bowler.

You'd hate him for it except for the fact that he was a top bloke as well....didn't even give us that pleasure the b*****d!

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Re: I wonder if there is a cultural element to this...

People from other parts of the world, with other ways of speaking are going to have problems with certain words or phrases and not others, in whatever language. Example springs to mind, three of my colleagues from the sub-continent, who each speak many languages, brilliantly I might add, simply cannot say 'Côte d'Ivoire'. Hearing them struggle, is I shamefully admit, quite amusing. I've not let on that 'Ivory Coast' is just as good.

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Re: I wonder if there is a cultural element to this...

English people for example seem to be incapable of pronouncing the word "loch" correctly. No matter how many times they try, it comes out as "lock".

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No problems with 10 repeats

However, the best I've ever managed is 3 in a row for "The Leith Police dismisseth us".

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Always popular at the pub after a few

Mrs Puggy Wuggy has a square cut punt.

Not a punt cut square,

Just a square cut punt.

It's round in the stern and blunt in the front.

Mrs Puggy Wuggy has a square cut punt.

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WTF?

Re: pick a pipe of pickled pepper

A pipe? I've never heard this before. When I were a lad it was a peck of pickled pepper that Peter Piper picked. Google appears to agree.

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Re: pick a pipe of pickled pepper

Absolutely - a peck is a unit of volume (two gallons I think), whereas you wouldn't want to stuff any quantity of peppers in a pipe.

I'll cite my granddad rather than Google - a Devonshire farmer who routinely mentioned pecks and told me what one was.

Cheers

Jon

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Re: pick a pipe of pickled pepper

Easy - four pecks to the bushel. Wonder what my car's fuel consumption is in chains/peck?

Phil.

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Boffin

Re: pick a pipe of pickled pepper

Wonder what my car's fuel consumption is in chains/peck?

Probably about 2e-39 square light years. Why?

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I never saw the point of this concept.

You can either speak the language, or you cannot.

English is a precise language, when used precisely.

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Re: I never saw the point of this concept.

>You can either speak the language, or you cannot.

???

So what about people recovering from strokes? Children with a developmental difficulty in this regard? People who stammer or have a lisp? Hell, most people if you play their won speech back at the with a few milliseconds delay will find it near impossible to talk.

Tongue twisters can give an insight into the task of speaking, analogous to how optical illusions can give clues as too how we interpret visual information.

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Re: I never saw the point of this concept.

English is precise but also playful. Resiliant (very) to mangling, still making sense in any order, almost.

It may have something to do with the fact that whilst the rest of Europe was enjoying the Rennaisance the Brits were in the sway of the Puritans who were taking all the pictures and nudey statues down. So we had Shakespere and Milton playing with words instead of Mick and Leo playing with their paints.

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Re: I never saw the point of this concept.

"Hell, most people if you play their won speech back at the with a few milliseconds delay will find it near impossible to talk."

This is true, sometimes when Skype-ing if the user at the other end is using speakers rather a headset you hear your own voice coming back delayed. When that happens I can only get half way through sentences..

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Facepalm

Re: I never saw the point of this concept.

>Hell, most people if you play their won speech back at the with a few milliseconds delay will find it near impossible to talk.

D'oh! Sorry people, I'm trying out a small Bluetooth keyboard... though more convenient for me, it is less convenient for anyone trying to read my words!

Still, despite my lack of precision, it would appear you can still grasp my meaning.

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Re: I never saw the point of this concept.

"Hell, most people if you play their won speech back at the with a few milliseconds delay will find it near impossible to talk".

An ex-cow-orker was some years back paid quite a bit to develop a portable machine* which allowed just this delayed-playback effect; it was used to quantify whether people trying to claim compensation from the National Coal Board for noise-induced industrial deafness were faking it or not.

*This was in the late-1960s. Think open-reel tape-decks with calibrated, continuously variable capstan speeds.

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TRT
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Re: I never saw the point of this concept.

Precise? It's vague as anything and heavily dependent on context. And it's always changing... what's really picking my pepper at the moment is Argos (and now it's spreading to other retailers too) and their "Get up to half-price off"... GRAHHHHHH!!!! It makes me mad even typing it.

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Re: I never saw the point of this concept.

Or he/she could have just bought a Watkins Super Shadow echo device.

Now, about this cow orking. Is it worth it?

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Re: I never saw the point of this concept.

That wouldn't have provided a copy of each person's tests for assessment by the various audiologists [at minimum the Coal Board's one and the Mineworker's union's one] back at base though, would it?

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Headmaster

muddled history

whilst the rest of Europe was enjoying the Rennaisance the Brits were in the sway of the Puritans ...

The Rennaisance was well out of nappies and on its way to school by the time of the Puritans. Might be a good idea to look at some dates.

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Re: I never saw the point of this concept.

Meaningless strings of words, I agree. But can't you see that the "Pheasant plucker" is a minor masterpeice of something like wit? The moment you notice where you might go wrong, some perverse subsystem in your brain wants to go wrong. And there are so many ways to choose from!

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