By Robin Farr

International Tongue Twister Day

I always feel a little silly when International Talk Like a Pirate Day comes around in September. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I can pull off a hearty, “Arr, matey!” On the other hand, International Tongue Twister Day, recognized each year on the second Sunday in November, is definitely my kind of thing.

The Classics

There are the classic tongue twisters (often repeated in my house just for fun):

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?

She sells seashells by the seashore.

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?

Tongue Twister Trivia

Looking to dazzle your friends and family with more than just your tongue-twister prowess? How about adding some trivia to the mix.

  • The “she” in the third one above was inspired by Mary Anning, a British fossil collector who lived during the 1800s and apparently did much more than sell seashells.
  • Peter Piper was also based on a real person – a man named Pierre Poivre, a French horticulturalist from the 1700s.

I guess if you want a tongue twister written about you, being a scientist helps!

Try These Two Tongue Twisters

The classics tend to roll off my tongue with barely a twist, but then there are these, which I will admit cause me some trouble:

Are our oars oak?

Which witch wished which wicked wish?

And this, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the hardest tongue twister in the English language:

The sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick.

Twist Your Tongue in Other Languages

A site named Omniglot lists these (and more) fun tongue twisters in other languages:

French: Un chasseur sachant chasser sait chasser sans son chien. (A hunter who knows how to hunt knows how to hunt without his dog.)

German: Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische. (The Fischer’s son Fritz is fishing for fresh fish.)

Arabic: Khamees kumash khashim Habash. (Khamees caught the nose of Habash.)

Estonian: Musta lehma saba valge lehma taga, valge lehma saba musta lehma taga. (The black cow’s tail behind the white cow, the white cow’s tail behind the black cow.)

Finnish: Mustan kissan paksut posket. (Black cats’ fat cheeks.)

So what’s your favourite tongue twister?