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A tongue-twister is a phrase that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly, and can be used as a type of spoken (or sung) word game. Some tongue-twisters produce results which are humorous (or humorously vulgar) when they are mispronounced, while others simply rely on the confusion and mistakes of the speaker for their amusement value.


Types of tongue-twister

Tongue-twisters may rely on rapid alternation between similar but distinct phonemes (e.g., s [s] and sh [ʃ]), unfamiliar constructs in loanwords, or other features of a spoken language in order to be difficult to articulate. For example, the following sentence is identified as the hardest tongue-twister in the English language, according to Guinness World Records.[citation needed]

The sixth sick sheikh's sixth sheep's sick.

A similar example was claimed as "the most difficult of common English-language tongue-twisters" by William Poundstone[1]

The seething sea ceaseth and thus the seething sea sufficeth us.

This type of tongue-twister was incorporated into a popular song in 1908, with words by British songwriter Terry Sullivan and music by Harry Gifford. it was said to be inspired by the life and work of Mary Anning.[2]

She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I'm sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I'm sure she sells sea-shore shells.

Many tongue-twisters use a combination of alliteration and rhyme. They have two or more sequences of sounds that require repositioning the tongue between syllables, then the same sounds are repeated in a different sequence. An example of this is the song Betty Botter[citation needed] (About this sound listen ):

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