Tongue-twister

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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.

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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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