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Tongue-Twisters ~ Fun With Words ~ International Tongue-Twister Day

Updated on January 30, 2015

"Many an anemone sees an enemy anemone."

Tongue Twisters
Tongue Twisters | Source

Words Can Be Fun! And Laughter is Contagious!

There does not seem to be an agreement on when International Tongue Twister Day should be. Some say it is on the 7th of November, yet others state the 13th. What is it about tongue-twisters that fascinate us so much? Tongue-twisters often bring back fond childhood memories. Maybe you remember taking turns with your friends saying things like, “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers” or trying to say “toy boat” three times really fast. I know I do. It was great fun listening to my friends’ tongues, and my own, trying to get wrapped around the words without being tripped up, and often failing.

That just might be the secret right there – tongue-twisters make failure fun.

What is a Tongue-Twister?

Besides being a source of shared laughter and fun, what is a tongue-twister? It is a popular form of wordplay where a phrase, sentence, or verse which causes difficulties for someone to speak out loud and/or quickly is verbalized. A “twisted tongue” is often triggered by words containing similar sounds causing the tongue to get tripped up! defines a tongue-twister as, “A word or group of words difficult to articulate rapidly, usually because of a succession of similar consonantal sounds, as in Shall she sell seashells?”

Can you get your tongue around this one, "toy boat, toy boat, toy boat"?
Can you get your tongue around this one, "toy boat, toy boat, toy boat"? | Source

To get the total impact of a tongue-twister, three things are required. The speaker should:

  • Repeat the phrase or sentence multiple times
  • Speak as quickly as possible
  • Do so without getting tripped up or mispronouncing the words

Tongue-twisters are created through the use of a repetition of sounds, also known as alliteration. These sounds are usually similar but not identical, and they are organized in such a way as to trip up the tongue, providing lots of laughter and fun along the way!

Many tongue-twisters become humorous, or humorously vulgar, when they trip up the tongue. If you don’t believe me, try saying “shelf sitter” three times very fast. Warning: once you start laughing, you’ll never get it said!

"A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk, but the stump thunk the skunk stunk."

Tongue Twisters Have a Purpose

Tongue twisters are more than a fun form of wordplay, however. Tongue twisters actually have a serious and functional use as well.

  • Speech therapists use tongue twisters to work with some speech defects or difficulties
  • Tongue twisters are used to practice pronunciation
  • English as a second language students use English tongue twister to improve their accent.
  • Actors also use them to acquire certain accents

When tongue twisters are used for these more serious uses, especially those dealing with speech difficulties, the tongue twister often focus on one consonant or vowel sound. For a listing of tongue twisters by sound, click here.

An example of a twister working on the “f” sound is: “Freshly-fried flying fish.” Try saying that one just one time really fast!

Tongue-Twisters Today and the not too Distant Past

The term “tongue-twister” seems to have originated in 1951 when Danny Kay recorded a song, Tongue Twisters, written by Sylvia Fine.

Another contemporary use of tongue-twisters is Dr. Seuss’ book, Fox in Socks, which is chock full of those delicious tongue tripping phrases.

Cary Grant even had a favorite tongue-twister, “black bug’s blood.”

I hope you have enjoyed our little jaunt investigating the tongue-twister. Whichever day you decide to celebrate it, on the 7th or the 13th, it is sure to be a day filled with laughter. Maybe you want to celebrate on both!

Grab the kids or enjoy these yourself. See if you can keep up!

“The sixth sick sheikh's sixth sheep's sick.”

More Word Fun by this Author:

Fun Tongue Twister Sites:

Comments: "Tongue-Twisters ~ Fun With Words ~ April 1st is International Tongue-Twister Day"

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    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 5 years ago from Texas

      Millionaire Tips - Tongue twisters are very fun.So glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks so much!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Tongue twisters are a lot of fun - how cool that they get a day. It looks like they have several days! Great photos and videos to accompany your article.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 5 years ago from Texas

      Will - you are right! Tongue twister could almost be a tongue twister in and of itself. thanks so much!

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      "Tongue twisters" itself is hard to say fast and several times in a row!

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 5 years ago from Texas

      Ardie -your comment made me smile, and yes, the skunk and the stump twisted tale. That one will twist the tongue. It is much easier to read them than to say them out loud.

      Ruchira - It seems that almost everything has a day these days. It's true. It is much easier to type them than it is to say them.

      Marcy - Try them by yourself, and get good at them, then challenge your friends. what fun!

      cclitgirl - I have a hard enough time with tongue twisters in English, I would have an impossible time in Spanish. LOL

      Horatio Plot - I too like that tongue twister. I am glad that you included it so that others can try it as well.

      teaches12345 - I bet tongue twisters would be great in helping auctioneers practice.

      Thank all of you for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      What a great hub topic and you covered it so well. I loved listening to the tongue twister songs (I could not keep up). I also learned that auctioneers use tongue twisters to practice their art of selling. Thanks for posting this light-hearted message.

    • Horatio Plot profile image

      Horatio Plot 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, England.

      What fun Cindy!

      Sorry to start the comment section off with this one, but my favourite has always been;

      "I am not a pheasant plucker,

      I'm the pheasant plucker's son

      I'm only plucking pheasants

      While the pheasant plucker's gone."

      Try saying that quickly after a few glasses of vino.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Haha, I'm a Spanish teacher and I'm actually doing a "trabalenguas" or tongue-twister unit with my 4th graders. This is awesome! I love these and my students are going around the school to see if they can say all the tongue twisters I'm teaching them in Spanish. Hehe. Voted up/A/U/I.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      What a fun topic! I love it - you always have the most interesting hubs! I'm going to try these, but not in front of anyone. I know I'll get tripped up on them!

      Voted up, funny, interesting and SHARED.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      Cindy, I was not aware that tongue twister has a day. I usually celebrate April 1st as April fool's day.

      Tongue twisters are fun...betty had a bitter butter but the butter was bitter so she swirled the bitter butter to make the butter better. typing is simpler than

      thanks for the information.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      Wow it took me a long time to get through this fun Hub because I wanted to practice and say every tongue twister :) I realized it was easier to read the TT's than it was to say them out loud. THEN there were some I couldn't even read without getting caught up - like the stunk skunk on the stump hahah! Great fun Hub.