But the real prize goes to ...
... anyone who can say "Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel" ten times in succession without doing themselves an injury.
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 …
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.
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".
... 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.
....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
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
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!
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.
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.
>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.
"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..
>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.
"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.
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.
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.
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!
I heard her interviewed on the Today program on Radio 4 and as usual it seems a nice headline opportunity has obscured what she's actually doing. It is all related to combinations sounds, what type follows what and so on and it's aimed at look how ideas get vocalised, what can interfere with it and has applications for rehabilitation of stroke suffers and other speech problems.
And on the 'You Are What You Is' album, Zappa has
"I heard that some Sheikh
Bought New Jersey last week
And you suckers ain't gettin' nothing"
The use of words in poetry is actually one of the few tools historians have of estimating how words were pronounced in the past!
I know a rude joke about sheep shearing that only works in an Australian accent.
Efros, I’ve wondered about that dialectal aspect as well. One simple tongue twister that trips up most people here is saying “toy boat” ten times in succession, as rapidly as possible. Over here, it almost invariably morphs into “toy boyt” before the end, and I’ve wondered whether that would tend to happen with native speakers of other English dialects.
I've always liked the song 'Labio Dental Fricative' by the Bonzo Dog Band:
"Cannibal chiefs chew Camembert cheese
'cause chewing keeps 'em cheeky
Big Fat Fred sticks fur to his head
'cause he thinks fur makes him freaky
Benjamin Bland and his Bugle Band blow the blues bi-weekly
How many pies can a porpoise poise on purpose if she pleases?"
But any song with the lyric "Back at the boozer" and stunt guitar by Eric Clapton is good by me!
I didn't have a problem with the one from the article - but that Seuss one was a pain in the arse to read, as an English/Japanese bilingual who has a weird "mostly-Received Pronunciation" accent in English, but has difficulty in pronouncing certain words beginning with the consonant cluster "thr" (especially "three").
"Thoroughly" is also one of those weird words that trips me up.
Being the sad bugger I am (was), as a teenager I thoroughly leaned that one, and can still rattle it off at high speed with not the slightest hesitation.
I also learned a shopping list:
Cheap, chilled chives, corn cob, crisp crunchy carrots, chunky chutney, chump chops and chips.
It's the breaks in the rhythm that gets people.
Anyone who plays a musical instrument will know there is an analogous musical problem. Some musical phrases can be especially hard to play for some reason - maybe because the moves are awkward or maybe because they're just unlike anything else you've played before.
Anyway, you can't just label them hard and not play them. The solution is practice. Play them over and over as slowly as you need and eventually you'll find they come naturally. It can sometimes take a while, though.
The same is true of tongue-twisters. Repeat them over and over sufficiently slowly to get them right each time and after a few days (on and off) you'll find they become quite easy. Try it...
I said it in my native british no problem, then converted to American and it was still piss easy
maybe I was still thinking british like.
my wife and MIL used to spoonerise certain things so much it sounded wrong when they said the right
the words bird poop ( bood pirp)
and head of lettuce (lead of hettuce) were the normal offenders
i could never say the sheik one, and when i was younger had a big problem with the lorry one because i never pronounced my R's correctly (wed lowwy yellow lowwy ) which sounds impossibly cute for a 3 year old and f*cking retarded as an adult so I corrected it, and the small stammer i used to have which is why i tend not to have a large issue with many tongue twisters i think, (except the afore mentioned sheik dude) the stammer really only comes back into play when i am overly exhausted which generally leads me to freeze up rather then struggle with the words ( probably all in my head a good neurosis whiles away the hours when i am alone !)
Ah! Spoonerisms! The Thais mentally carry on spoonerising everything you say to them, so you have to be quite careful when speaking to avoid certain combinations of words and there are actually rules laid down for writing poetry which stipulate sets of words which cannot be used in combination.
You cannot say "The teacher is ill." you have to phrase it as "The teacher is not well." The first form will automatically be spoonerised into "crab's penis."
There are some nice ones in English, however. "After our hymn: 'The shoving leopard' a meeting will be halled in the hell below the Church."
While reading the original and speaking it to myself (quietly - I'm at work and people here think I'm halfway off my rocker already) and then doing the same with all of the examples in the comments, something occurred to me... These are all a LOT easier to say and repeat when you're looking at the words. When I try to say them from memory, I get screwed up every time, but I can blast through them by just reading them aloud.
Anyone else find this?
Although not entirely related humour, for some reason this bought memories of a cryptic puzzle someone asked me long ago: put together a grammatical sentence that makes sense with 7 consecutive instances of the word "and".
Answer: describing the sequence "and and and", you could say "There is a space between and and and, and and and and".
Didn't have a problem with the tounge twister in the article, can quite easily cope with "I'm not a pheasant plucker" at speeds fast enough that the words ALMOST become unintelligible but "The Leith Police" I have a problem saying slowly never mind speeding it up, my brain tries to correct "dismisseth" to "dismisses" by the second go around. And of course - the lorrys very quickly turn into lollys of either colour.
EDIT: Was unaware of the other verses for the Pheasant Plucker though - so will check those out.
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