What Value Are Tongue-Twisters?

"The Epitome Of Femininity" The picture is of model, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, taken on Feb. 9, 1999 by Marion Curtis.

What are tongue-twisters? Generally, tongue-twisters are phrases that are sensical, but difficult to articulate.

What value are tongue-twisters? Well, if we want to improve articulation, then saying something that is difficult to articulate should be helpful. Saying tongue twisters to improve articulation is analogous to lifting weights to improve strength.

Colin Firth: “She sifted seven thick-stalked thistles through a strong thick sieve.”

Tongue-twisters were brought to the forefront recently when The King’s Speech won the 2011 Academy Award for best picture and Colin Firth won as best actor for his role as Prince Albert, who became King George VI. In the movie, as well as in real-life, Firth’s character used tongue-twisters as part of his therapy to overcome a stammer. Here’s a tongue-twister that was used in the therapy for Prince Albert. “She sifted seven thick-stalked thistles through a strong thick sieve.” Does that seem like fun? :-)

Before going any further into the search for the value of tongue-twister, let’s have some fun with them. Besides fun, we can also help ourselves become better at articulating while saying them. Fun articulating to improve articulation! Wow!

Here are a few short ones to warm us up.

Great Greek Grapes!


Red lorry, yellow lorry

Unique New York

Greek grapes

The epitome of femininity

Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?

Supposedly, the toughest little tongue-twister in the english language is:

“the sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”

What do you think?

Some well-known tongue-twisters are “short poems.”

The skunk thunk the stump stunk!


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

Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie.

She stood on the balcony, inexplicably mimicking him hiccoughing, and amicably welcoming him home.

Some can be a little “dirty.”

I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit; and on the slitted sheet I sit.

One smart fellow; he felt smart. Two smart fellows; they felt smart. Three smart fellows; they all felt smart.

Some “well-known ones” are from longer poems.

She sells seashells by the seashore. The shells she sells are surely seashells. So if she sells shells on the seashore, I'm sure she sells seashore shells. (Painting is by Renoir - By The Seashore)


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?

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 as a woodchuck would
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

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. 

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


What value, besides helping us improve articulation, are tongue-twisters? I can think of three good possibilities that could be useful when there is no pressing need to improve articulation.

Teaching poetry to children is one value of tongue-twisters. They serve as attention grabbers and help children to keep their focus on the lesson.

When learning another language, tongue-twisters may help. They force the mind to concentrate on pronunciation.

Perhaps the greatest value is having fun with language.” Learning is a joyous and fulfilling experience. Tongue-twisters can make it “funner.” (more fun:-)

How about a tongue-twisting comment from you?

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