Trivia Teaser

Change the last letter of WHICH word to: 'express in words'?


Tongue Twisters


By Christine Lovatt

Some words in other languages look unpronounceable, and that may be why we say ‘it’s all Greek to me’, or ‘double Dutch’, when anything seems incomprehensible.

Every language has its own tongue twisters. Like many forms of humour, it shows how we all enjoy playing with words and language.

Even Dutch-speaking people may have trouble saying hoor de kleine klompjes klepperen op de klinkers (hear the small wooden shoes click on the clinkers).

The word for tongue twisters in some tongues looks hard to say. In German it’s zungenbrecher, in Japanese it’s hayakuchi kotoba, in Spanish, trabalenguas.

Speech therapists use tongue twisters to help their patients with speech difficulties. If you say crows in clothes chose cosy cloaks over and over, you find you can eventually train your tongue to move fast enough to keep up.

Traditionally, the most tongue-challenging English phrase is the sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.

In Java, a popular tongue twister is pitik blorok klorok bolak balik (the spotted chicken crows over and over.)

And over in Eire, d'ith damh dubh ubh amh ar neamh means a black ox ate a raw egg in heaven.

Italians could stumble over Chi l'è calà cu l'ha calà chila calà cu la calotta russa? ( who is that girl that came down from the hill with a red cap?)

Finally, here’s one in Zulu: Amaxoxo ayaxokozela exoxa ngoxamu exhibeni. (the frogs are talking loudly about the monitor lizard.)

Make up your own --- but don’t trip over your tongue!


Happy puzzling!




6 Responses to

Tongue Twisters

diferry said:
November 09, 2007 at 4:22 PM


interesting. do you know where the expression pidgeon pair comes from? i've been trying to find out for a while


November 12, 2007 at 11:36 AM


The tongue twister that comes to mind from my childhood is "She sells sea shells on the sea shore". Does anybody else know any good ones?


November 12, 2007 at 4:25 PM


I have one! Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?


November 13, 2007 at 6:15 PM

This is my fave: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood. Check out this site it is awesome for tongue twisters! There are so many!

November 13, 2007 at 11:01 PM


i have one, how many wood would a wood truck chuk if a wood truck could chuk wood




November 19, 2007 at 9:25 AM


Hi Diferry. The expression 'pigeon pair' means a boy and a girl as twins or as the only children in a family. It comes from the fact that pigeons always lay two eggs at a time, although I don't know if they are always of different genders. Are there any pigeon fanciers out there who could tell us?