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Twisty Tongues Tell Twisty Tales: International Tongue Twister Day

3rd Nov, 2016 | Posted by in Blog
Twisty Tongues Tell Twisty Tales: International Tongue Twister Day

”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.”

– A Sadistic English Teacher, We’re Sure

Tongue Twister Day is dedicated to all those wonderful people out there who think that saying words that require your tongue to do gymnastics is just the bestestest time ever. We can’t entirely disagree, but there has to be limits, right? Right?

Shep Schwab shopped at Scott’s Schnapps shop;
One shot of Scott’s Schnapps stopped Schwab’s watch.

– Games Magazine 1979

Ok… Perhaps not. There are even Tongue Twisters that are insanely long, we’re talking epic poem long, which may be an exaggeration, but tell that to your aching tongue after reading them.

So aside from being torturous, what’s interesting about Tongue Twisters?
Well, one thing that’s interesting about tongue twisters is that there’s more than one kind of tongue twister, and then there are things that aren’t TECHNICALLY tongue twisters that are, situationally, quite difficult indeed. Want a few examples? Of course you do, that’s why you’re here.

Shibboleths
Alright, first of all, the word itself is a tongue twister, but what is it exactly? Well what it is… exactly… is a phrase that isn’t necessarily difficult for someone who speaks the language as a native, but instead is quite tricky for someone learning a new language. After all, for someone from Georgia (The country you ninny, not the American State), the phrase “baq’aq’i ts’q’alshi q’iq’inebs” is hardly difficult at all, now is it? You may imagine, however, for someone just learning the language, all those q’s may throw them for quite a loop. The phrase, for what it’s worth, means “A Frog Croaks In The Water”.

Finger-Fumblers
Here’s one we rarely think of, are there tongue twisters for those who don’t use a spoken language? Absolutely! Apparently those who speak ASL and other forms of sign-language have a unique version of a tongue twister all their own, and as you might have guessed, they’re known as finger-fumblers. The name says it all really, if you tie your fingers in knots trying to spell out the word in sign language, odds are good that you’re trying to ‘say’ a finger fumbler.

International Tongue Twister Day celebrates these twisty little phrases wherever they hail from, both in spoken form and in finger fumbler form. We’re quite curious whether or not there are typed equivalents, where the gymnastics your fingers are asked to perform on the keyboard are just too much for normal human dexterity.

Perhaps on International Tongue Twister Day you can try to discover this for yourself!

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