By Robin Kaip on April 20, 2022

Tongue Twisters from around the World!

There are the standard ingredients of language learning: grammar, vocabulary and punctuation. And then there are the fun, nuanced, distinct ingredients of a language or dialect that are a bit harder to categorize. They are a vehicle of humor, culture, tradition, and personality. Just like puns, tongue twisters are part of every language, and mastering them is a true sign of proficiency. That being said, they can be a challenge even for native speakers. Where exactly they originated, or rather why they originated, is hard to say, and attempting to translate them can be very confusing, and deflate the humor in them quite a bit. For a language learner, however they can be an excellent tool to practice pronunciation, dexterity and articulation. So, practice away with these tongue twisters from around the world:

Tongue-Twister

English:
Betty Botter bought a bit of butter.
The butter Betty Botter bought was a bit bitter.
And made her batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter makes better batter.
So, Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.
Making Betty Botter’s bitter batter better.

German:
Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid und Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut.

(Wedding dress stays wedding dress and blue cabbage stays blue cabbage.)

Spanish:
Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal en tres tristes trastos tragaban trigo tres tristes tigres.

(Three sad tigers swallowed wheat in a wheat field on three sad dishes, on three sad dishes swallowed wheat three sad tigers.)

Turkish:
Bu yoğurdu sarımsaklasak da mı saklasak, sarimsaklamasak da mı saklasak?

(Should we store this yogurt with garlic or without garlic?)

Hungarian:
Az ibafai papnak fapipája van, ezért az ibafai papi pipa papi fapipa.

(The Ibafa priest has wooden pipe, so the Ibafa priest pipe is a priest wooden pipe.)

Danish:
Far får får får, nej får får ikke får, får får lam.

(Translated loosely: Dad, does a sheep get sheep, no a sheep does not get sheep, a sheep gets a lamb)

Russian:
Ехал грека через реку, видит Грека в реке рак. Cунул Грека руку в реку рак зa руку Грека цап
Yekhal Greka cherez reku, vidit Greka v reke rak. Sunul Greka ruku v reku, rak za ruku Greku tsap.

(A Greek was riding across the river and saw that there was a crayfish in the river. The Greek put his hand in the river and the crayfish it his hand.)

French:
Un chasseur sachant chasser doit savoir chasser sans son chien.

(A hunter who knows how to hunt, knows how to hunt without his dog.)

Portuguese:
O rato roeu a rolha da garrafa de rum do rei da Rússia.

(The rat nibbled the cork of the bottle of rum of the king of Russia).

Italian:
Sopra la panca la capra campa, sotto la panca la capra crepa.

(On the bench the goat lives, under the bench the goat dies.)

Swedish:
Sju sjösjuka sjömän sköttes
av sju sjungande sjuksköterskor
på sjukhusskeppet i Shanghai

(Seven seasick sailors were taken care of by seven singing nurses on the hospital ship in Shanghai.)

Icelandic:
Barbara Ara bar Ara Araba bara rabarbara.

(Barbara, daughter of Ari only gave Ari the Arab rhubarb.)

Afrikaans:
Die Koppokkie pik op die kappokkopietjie se koppietjie.

(The bantam (a kind of chicken) picks up the baby bantam’s head.)

Korean: 
내가 그린 기린 그림은 잘 그린 기린 그림이고 니가 그린 기린 그림은 못그린 기린 그림이다.
naega geulin gilin geulim-eun jal geulin gilin geulim-igo niga geulin gilin geulim-eun mosgeulin gilin geulim-ida.

(translated loosely: The giraffe picture I drew is a well-drawn giraffe picture, and the giraffe picture that you drew is not a well-drawn giraffe picture.)

Dutch:
De koetsier poetst de postkoets met postkoetspoets.

(The coachman polishes the stagecoach with a stagecoach polish.)

Don't see your language? Send us a tongue twister in your language and we will add it to the list!

Published by Robin Kaip April 20, 2022