Tongue Twisters – Concept, Examples, Benefits, Features

We explain what a tongue twister is, its characteristics and educational benefits. Also, examples of short and difficult tongue twisters.

tongue twister
Tongue twisters are a good exercise to improve diction.

What is a tongue twister?

It is known as tongue twisters or tongue twisters to certain word games consisting of one or more difficult-to-pronounce sentences, because they present internal rhymes or alliterations that require a greater effort in speech. They tend to deal with humorous or imaginative topics, and exist in practically all languages.

The tongue twisters are part of the oral tradition and they are generally transmitted from generation to generation. On the other hand, they have also been extensively studied by linguists and teachers, since they are often understood as a good exercise to improve diction, especially in childhood ages.

Tongue twisters are generally inherited anonymously from previous generations. Their history is more or less uncertain, although they are known to have existed in Ancient Greece, as part of exercises aimed at improving the capacities of politicians and orators, a tradition later inherited by Roman culture.

Characteristics of tongue twisters

Broadly speaking, a tongue twister is characterized by the following:

  • They consist of short sentences, composed of very similar phonemes (sounds), repeated in different words, according to the pattern of a sound order or a rhyme.
  • Although it seems obvious, they are difficult to pronouncer, especially for the first time.
  • They are anonymous, they don’t have an author, and are transmitted by oral tradition.
  • They exist in all languages and its content often reflects the local culture.

Benefits of tongue twisters

Tongue twisters are widely used in books and classes during the initial stages of educational training, when children are still acquiring and perfecting their grasp of the language.

In that sense, are ideal for exercising the speech apparatus and, precisely, “unlock” the tongue to facilitate speech. That’s the reason why they are also convenient when learning new languages, as an exercise in pronunciation and fluency, and for which they are a common tool of speech therapists.

Short tongue twisters

Here are some examples of short tongue twisters, as an example:

  • Three sad tigers swallow wheat in a wheat field.
  • When I say Diego, I say I say, and when I say I say, I say Diego.
  • Pablito drove a nail into the bald spot of a bald guy.
  • Go outside and take the bag of salt out in the sun to dry.
  • The abbot gave rice to the fox.
  • On a carriage ride, a page came and lost his luggage.
  • The mischievous pájara bites the typical gourd.

Difficult tongue twisters

The following are tongue twisters considered particularly complex:

  • Compadre, buy me a coconut! Buddy, coco I don’t buy! Because he who eats little coconut, buys little coconut, and eats little coconut, he buys little coconut.
  • When you tell stories, count how many stories you tell, because without knowing how many stories you told, you will not know how many stories you have to tell.
  • Pedro Pablo Pérez Pereira, a poor Portuguese painter, paints for little money beautiful landscapes to walk around Paris.
  • Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barrel, cars run fast on the railroad tracks.
  • The Bishop of Constantinople wants to deconstantinopolize. Whoever deconstantinopolizes him well, he will be a good deconstantinopolizer.