Home / SCIENCE / The Toughest Tongue Twister In Town

The Toughest Tongue Twister In Town

Tongue twisters are like Lego’s, fun for ages 0 to 100+ and there’s no shortage of debate about which phrases are the most linguistically challenging to get out.  Short and silly or long and poetic, usually nonsensical, all of the most common tongue tanglers are easily distortable, but just one is considered the toughest tongue twister of all.

Which Is The Toughest Tongue Twister?

tongue tricks

Photo:By Christine (Flickr: Tounge)CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

First, Here Are The 3  Most Common English Language Tongue Twisters:

Sally sells seashells by the seashore

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, how many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?

How much wood, would a wood-chuck chuck, if a wood-chuck could chuck wood?

Like the planet Pluto who lost ranking status, formerly the most difficult tongue twister in the English language was, “the sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick,” (likely also a lispers nightmare resulting in a lot of spit, and a twisted tongue).

This month during the annual meeting of Acoustical Society of America in San Francisco scientists from MIT gathered to further study the brains speech-planning process and understand how and why we get verbally tripped up on our own language. At the not so traditionally scientific conference, participants in the tongue twister study could win a “prize” if they were able to successfully repeat the most difficult tongue twister phrase completely and correctly. No details as to what the “prize” was, hopefully not a bag of jawbreakers. Think you are pretty good with words? Go ahead and try it for yourself.

Now, here is the phrase that pays or the toughest tongue twister in town: “pad kid poured curd pulled cold”.

The challenge is more important than the rules of tongue twisting apparently, since this twister makes no sense and is not likely to be used for any reason, considering curds are out, like gluten right?

Acrobatic Articulation

One of the startling discoveries made at the latest meeting, was that simple and awkward paired words can be just as difficult to spit out as the longer tongue twister phrases or rhymes. Two examples given in this category were “top cop” and “mixed biscuits”, do either of those make sense either, what are unmixed biscuits anyway?

Did you ever wonder how many people can roll their tongue (not roll their “R”s but flip their tongue over)?

According to the University of Delaware the answer is 65% to 81% of us, with females being slightly more adept at this ability.

The MIT linguistic scientists, along with colleagues in Germany, are now onto their next leg of their research with will include the use of micro “transducers” on the tongues of volunteers to numerically measure how we articulate words or a series of  words. Here are some linguistic language learners in training (uploaded to YouTube from KidsKareSchools); perfectly demonstrating that mastering what comes out of your mouth is not as easy as learning the alphabet.


The Truth About Tongue Tricks

There are many myths about what it means if you can tie a knot with a cherry stem with your tongue, unfortunately they are all false. Yet as with any show-stopping unique bodily skill, practice builds muscle memory, and your tongue is ultimately a muscle.

About Tonya O'Dell