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Tongue Twisters

Being a language teacher, I enjoy having fun with language. Recently in one of my classes, something came up about tongue twisters. I thought I'd post a few of my favorites today in English, and then for those who are interested in several fun ones in French and German.

(These are the most fun when you try to pronounce them out loud, saying the shorter ones several times.)

Mr. See owned a saw. And Mr. Soar owned a seesaw. Now, See's saw sawed Soar's seesaw before Soar saw See, which made Soar sore. Had Soar seen See's saw before See sawed Soar's seesaw, See's saw would not have sawed Soar's seesaw. So See's saw sawed Soar's seesaw. But it was sad to see Soar so sore just because See's saw sawed Soar's seesaw.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper Picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?

Unique New York

Toy Boat


Now let's try a some in French where tongue twisters are called des virelangues = tongue turners. I will translate them into English.

Les chaussettes de l'archiduchesse sont-elles sèches?
Are the archduchess's socks dry?
Extra dry!

Si six scies scient six citrons, six cent six scies scient six cent six citrons.
If six saws saw six lemons, six hundred six saws saw six hundred six lemons.

Si ton tonton tond ton tonton, ton tonton sera tondu.
If your uncle trims your uncle, your uncle will be trimmed.

Un chasseur sachant chasser chasse sans chiens.
A hunter knowing how to hunt hunts without dogs.


Now for some German Zungenbrecher = tongue breakers

Graben Grabengräber Gruben?
Graben Grubengräber Gräben?
Grabengräber graben Gräben.
Grubengräber graben Gruben.

Do gravediggers dig ditches?
Do ditchdiggers dig graves?
Gravediggers dig graves.
Ditchdiggers dig ditches.

Fischers Fritz isst frische Fische,
frische Fische isst Fischers Fritz.

Fischer's Fritz eats fresh fish;
fresh fish eats Fischer's Fritz.

In Ulm, um Ulm, um Ulm herum.
In Ulm, around Ulm, all around Ulm.

Zwischen zwei Zwetschgenbäumen zwitschern zwei Schwalben.
Between two plum trees twitter two swallows.


Though this final item isn't a tongue twister, it is a bit of fun with language.

An Englishman, a Scotsman, an Irishman, a Welshman, a Latvian, a Turk, a German, an Indian, several Americans (including a Hawaiian and an Alaskan), an Argentinean, a Dane, an Australian, a Slovak, an Egyptian, a Japanese, a Moroccan, a Frenchman, a New Zealander, a Spaniard, a Russian, a Guatemalan, a Colombian, a Pakistani, a Malaysian, a Croatian, a Uzbek, a Cypriot, a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Chinese, a Sri Lankan, a Lebanese, a Cayman Islander, a Ugandan, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Uruguayan, a Czech, an Icelander, a Mexican, a Finn, a Honduran, a Panamanian, an Andorran, an Israeli, a Venezuelan, an Iranian, a Fijian, a Peruvian, an Estonian, a Syrian, a Brazilian, a Portuguese, a Liechtensteiner, a Mongolian, a Hungarian, a Canadian, a Moldovan, a Haitian, a Norfolk Islander, a Macedonian, a Bolivian, a Cook Islander, a Tajikistani, a Samoan, an Armenian, an Aruban, an Albanian, a Greenlander, a Micronesian, a Virgin Islander, a Georgian, a Bahaman, a Belarusian, a Cuban, a Tongan, a Cambodian, a Qatari, an Azerbaijani, a Romanian, a Chilean, a Jamaican, a Filipino, a Ukrainian, a Dutchman, a Ecuadorian, a Costa Rican, a Swede, a Bulgarian, a Serb, a Swiss, a Greek, a Belgian, a Singaporean, an Italian, a Norwegian and an African...

... walk into a fine restaurant.

"I'm sorry," says the maître d', after scrutinizing the group, "you can't eat here without a Thai.


Do you have a favorite tongue twister to add to these? I look forward to the comments.


"The genuineness of our faith is validated in the fires of trial." — Tim Chevalier


Laughing stock: cattle with a sense of humor

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8 Comments on “Tongue Twisters”

  1. #1 David
    on Feb 26th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I love the tweedle beetle battle part of Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss.

    Rob adds:
    Fox in Socks is indeed wonderful!

  2. #2 Theron
    on Feb 26th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    There are some potentially explosive combinations in that restaurant.
    No wonder they found an excuse to get rid of them.

    Rob adds:
    LOL, Theron!

  3. #3 Vikki
    on Feb 26th, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    And you can’t forget the ‘She sells seashells by the seashore’ and ‘aluminum linoleum’!

    Rob adds!
    Good ones! I always failed when trying to say “Red leather, yellow leather” fives times quickly.

  4. #4 Sarah
    on Feb 26th, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    There were two Canadians in that group…

    I love this sort of language joke. Never studied German, but enjoyed their tongue twisters anyway.

    We had heard and enjoyed all the French ones in QC. There, the “tond” of the tonton twister, in context, would be translated “clip,” or “trim,” referring to a haircut. Think of a monk’s tonsure.

    Similarly, in QC, they often speak of a car being “chaussée,” or shod, referring to its tires.

    Rob adds:
    Thanks, Sarah! I removed the extra Canadian and amended the translation for “tond.” In French French I always think of tondre in reference to lawncare, but I know it carries the other sense too. I just kind of liked mowing a tonton.

  5. #5 Tony
    on Feb 26th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I love these! Here’s another German one:

    Kraut bleibt Kraut, Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid. (Cabbage remains cabbage, wedding dress remains wedding dress).

    I learned “Fischers Fritz” slightly differently – Fritz was a cat, and since animals eating use the word “fressen” instead of “essen”, that makes the tongue twister somewhat harder:

    Fischers Fritz frisst frische Fische, frische Fische frisst Fischers Fritz.

    Rob adds:
    Ooo, Tony, I like the version with frisst much better! I vaguely remembered it, and that’s the version I found online. Thanks for adding it to this post.

  6. #6 Charlene Clements
    on Feb 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Not a tongue twister, but a short poem remembered from French class:
    Je ne suis pas ce que je suis,
    Je suis ce que je suis.
    Si je suis ce que je suis,
    Je suis un cochon.

    I am not what I follow,
    I am what I am.
    If I am what I follow,
    I am a pig.

    Rob adds:
    Thanks for sharing that, Charlene. I’d never heard that one before. When we go over the verb suivre, we talk about the fact that je suis means two different things, based on the context. I ask my students how things would have been different if, when Descartes said “Je pense, donc je suis,” he had meant “I think, therefore I follow.”

  7. #7 Marsha Reid
    on Mar 4th, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Hi Rob,

    Here is one that we learned in 5th grade French class. Yes 5th grade and I have never forgotten it!

    Bonjour Madame Sans-Soucis
    Combien sont ces soucis-ci?
    Six Sous, ces soucis-ci.
    Six sous? C’est trop cher Madame Sans-Soucis

    From your old BJU classmate,

    Marsha Levis Reid

    Rob adds:
    Marsha! Wow, it’s been a while! So good to hear from you! That’s a great virelangue — thanks for sharing it.

  8. #8 Bonnie C.
    on Mar 4th, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Here’s one which is confounding in either French or English:

    Pare-chocs en caoutchouc de poussette d’enfant.