Tongue twisters, those mystifying turns of phrase with repeated phonemes, alliteration or rhyme which present difficulty in pronunciation, are a universal phenomenon. They are a part of our experience growing up as speakers and they exist in similar forms for children in other parts of the world. Who doesn’t want to show off and tackle a tough without batting an eye as your friends struggle mightily?

Here are some examples of tongue twisters from a few languages, and I would invite you to post your own to show off the various possibilities.

English

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,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks.

Luke’s duck likes lakes. Luke Luck licks lakes. Luke’s duck licks lakes. Duck takes licks in lakes Luke Luck likes. Luke Luck takes licks in lakes duck likes.

María Chuchena su techo techaba, y un techador le pregunta:
“¿Qué techas María Chuchena? ¿O techas tu choza o techas la ajena?”
“No techo mi choza ni techo la ajena. Yo techo el techo de María Chuchena.

El tomatero Matute mató al matutero Mota porque Mota el matutero tomó de su tomatera un tomate. Por eso, por un tomate, mató el tomatero Matute al matutero Mota.
Me han dicho que has dicho un dicho, que han dicho que he dicho yo. El que lo ha dicho mintió, y en caso que hubiese dicho ese dicho que han dicho que he dicho yo, dicho y redicho quedó, y estará bien dicho ese dicho que han dicho que he dicho yo.

Si mon tonton tond ton tonton ton tonton sera tondu

Les chaussettes de l’archiduchesse sont-elle sèches ?

Gros gras grand grain d’orge, tout gros-gras-grand-grain-d’orgerisé, quand te dé-gros-gras-grand-grain-d’orgeriseras-tu? Je me dé-gros-gras-grand-grain-d’orgeriserai quand tous les gros gras grands grains d’orge se seront dé-gros-gras-grand-grain-d’orgerisés.

Essa casa está ladrilhada.
Quem a desenladrilhará?
O desenladrilhador que a desenladrilhar,
Bom desenladrilhador será !

Disseram que na minha rua tem paralelepípedo feito de paralelogramos. Seis paralelogramos tem um paralelepípedo. Mil paralelepípedos tem uma paralelepipedovia. Uma paralelepipedovia tem mil paralelogramos. Então uma paralelepipedovia é uma paralelogramolândia?

And the wildest one has to be one I found in Spanish:

El otorrinolaringólogo de parangaricutirimicuaro se quiere desotorrinolangaparangaricutirimicuarizar. El desotorrinolaringaparangaricutimicuador que logre desotorrinolangaparangaricutirimucuarizarlo, buen desotorrinolaringaparangaricutimicuador será.

As a translator, there are occasions where you will have to come up with a plan for dealing with a tongue twister, such as “Erre con erre, guitarra;│erre con erre, carril:│rápido ruedan los carros,│rápido el ferrocarril”. It might takes hours to come up with an adequate representation of the phrase, and that is after you have made the decision to translate it by following the literal meaning or simply deciding on a tongue twister in the target language that fits in the same context. This can be a vexing problem, but the process can be quite fun if you allow it to be.

(Spanish version: http://blog-de-traduccion.trustedtranslations.com/se-me-%E2%80%9Clengua-la-traba%E2%80%9D-2010-07-12.html)

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