“She sells sea shells on the sea shore” Who, you ask? Well, Betty does! The Betty who bought a bowl of butter and found that the butter was bitter so she bought better butter to make the bitter butter better!!! Sorry, couldn’t resist. Each of these is a truly terrific tongue twister after all, and that is the theme of my poetic Sunday this week.
Poetic Sundays: The Tongue Twister Poetic Form
We celebrate International Tongue Twister Day annually on the second Sunday in November; I know that today is the third Sunday, but simply assume a little twist to the calendar!!! On the other hand, it is always fun to twist our tongues trying out tongue twisters, so why not today!
The Cambridge Dictionary defines a tongue twister as “a sentence or phrase that is intended to be difficult to say, especially when repeated quickly and often.” It is often a specific sequence of similar words with slight differences in certain syllables whose rapid pronunciation is definitely difficult, and truly terrific fun!
I recall spending many pleasant summer afternoons of my childhood rolling my tongue around “red lorry, blue lorry” and failing fantastically each time!! Giggling over them with friends as we tried to say them together, and trying to come up with new ones ourselves as well.
The Tongue Twister Poetic Form
In line with the definition of the tongue twister, the poem itself is made up of lines that are hard to say when read aloud. The poet can achieve this by various methods, including using similar consonant sounds in succession (use of alliteration). There are no other rules for meter, syllabic count, or rhyme for this poetic form.
So the form’s elements are that at its most basic,
- it is written with intent to twist your tongue!
How to Write a Tongue Twister Poem
Read tongue twisters to inspire you (see below for links)
Pick a Theme
Pick your topic or theme. Tell a story; it doesn’t have to be profound or one that makes you LOL, but stringing together a bunch of words that don’t make sense does not inspire people to try to say them out loud (and that is the whole point of tongue twisters after all).
You can always look to fairy tales, myths, and tall tales for inspiration.
Or Start With a Name
Pick your own or your favorite person’s name or make one up. Then build a story for that person and use the name to build your word list. Soon you will have your tongue twister poem!
On To the Words Themselves
Now that you have a topic in mind, select words around the topic. Since it is going to be a tongue twister poem, here are a few tips to help with this
- Use Consonance: Select any letter and write down similar sounding words starting with that letter. See which of these you can use to make sense together. Some alliterative consonants are harder to say than others, so that can help you to create simple to challenging tongue twisters. For example: Betty bought bitter butter….
- Close to Consonance: Pick words that are close to consonance. For example: princess, please, peas, pirate; and even the words, close and consonance along with cream, kite, and key!
- Confusing Consonants: Sounds like “th,” “s,” “ph,” and “f” are sometimes easy to mix up, especially when placed close together. One other pair of sounds that often gets mixed up is “l” and “r.” So go ahead, find such words, and use them in your poem. One of the most difficult tongue twisters uses this method – The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.
- Capsized Consonance: Pick similar sounding words where the sounds are reversed, like in “she sells sea shells”
- Don’t Forget Assonance: Assonance is repetition of vowel sounds even if the words begin with different consonant sounds. If used together successfully, they can add to the challenge of your tongue twister poem, and will definitely help lend rhythm and rhyme which is always wonderful to have. For example: Mell sells bells.
- Similar sized words: Try to also use similar sized words wherever possible.
Share Your Tongue Twister Poem!
Share it with others and have them say it out loud!
My Trifling Tongue Twister Try
Vlad the Valiant Warrior’s Warrior Wife
Vlad the Valiant warrior wanted whisky with veal,
with waffles, well, a meal
with all the bells n whistles!
What Vlad the Valiant warrior wanted,
Vlad the Valiant warrior got,
Save when Vlad’s warrior wife was not
Willing to serve what
Vlad the Valiant warrior wants!
~ Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites
Another attempt started this way (and is still WIP)
Trudy’s Truly Terrifically Terrible Tales
Trudy told truly tall tales
teeming with towering trees.
Trudy told tales of tails
tails of terrifying tiggerees.
~ Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites
More About Tongue Twisters
- Apparently many radio and TV stations use(d) tongue twisters as part of the announcer’s test. One tongue twister used was “The seething sea ceased to see, then thus sufficeth thus.”
- Tongue twisters have many benefits while also being fun. They help improve pronunciation, memory, with various speech difficulties, to sharpen brains(and tongues, of course), to increase vocabulary in a fun manner, and to improve reading and speaking skills.
References, h/t, and Further Reading
- This article about tongue twisters from NPR
- Wikipedia’s page on tongue twisters
- For inspiration, check out these tongue twister poems and this humongous collection of tongue twisters
- This interesting article about the connection between Mary Anning and the “She sells sea shells” tongue twister
- Get this game for yourself for hours of family fun!
- Word Play and its Wonders
On My Blog
So here are the posts since (and including) my last scribblings….
- Celebrate Children’s Day: So Many Wonderful Ways and Days
- Humanity Shines through a New Superhero
- 10 of the Best WWI Fiction Books: On My TBR
- Wordless or No Less Than 500 Words: Better Get Writing
- 10 Wonderful Quotes From Books
- STEAM Gift Guide: Great Gifts for All Ages
- Sunday Scribblings #82: Quality Matters and X-Ray Matter
And the Homefront
My high-schooler had a four day weekend due to Veteran’s Day this past Thursday with a staff training day on Friday rounding the long weekend off. We spent most of the weekend doing a fall-cleaning of sorts as we reorganized our garage and the garden shed. We moved tons of unused items that I did not remember we had to the recycle bin; in fact, we have some items saved for next week’s collection too!
And when I later noticed that November 15th happens to be America Recycles Day, it somehow seemed apt!!
Last but not least, we had the annual fall recital at our teen’s music school (in person after two years, of course) and it was wonderful listening to all the young musicians play their hearts out. Without being biased about it, I can truly say my daughter played beautifully!!
On My Blog and Home Front
I hope to continue posting everyday this month as part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. And on the home-front, wrap up the massive reorganizing I started (fingers crossed). As I continue this reorganizing, maybe should also use the fact that Nov 15th is apparently National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day and simply do that as well.
My college freshman will be home this weekend for the upcoming Thanksgiving break, and we can’t wait to see him (despite Facetiming him everyday!)
This Week’s Celebrations
Literary Celebrations (close-to-it also!)
- Literary birthdays this week include: Marianne Moore on 15th Nov; Chinua Achebe on Nov 16th; Christopher Paolini on the 17th of November; Maggie Stiefvater and Margaret Atwood on Nov 18th(!); Ruta Sepetys on Nov 19th; Alistair Cooke and Nadine Gordimer on the 20th; and Voltaire on the 21st.
- Nov 17th this year is Guinness World Records Day and also World Philosophy Day
- The third week of November is National Education Week, National Book Awards Week, and Geography Awareness Week.
- National Bundt (Pan) Day, National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day (need to check what this is), and National Raisin Bran Cereal Day (not really a family favorite but works when nothing else is there) are on Nov 15th.
- Nov 16th is National Fast Food Day, and In-n-Out is sounding kind of good to me!! We rarely eat out but sometimes long days can inspire laziness in the kitchen!
- The 17th celebrates National Baklava Day (yum, I can use some sugar) and National Homemade Bread Day
- Nov 20th is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day followed by National Gingerbread Cookie Day on the 21st
- Nov 15th happens to be National Philanthropy Day as well as National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day and America Recycles Day
- After eating fast food and baklava, it makes sense that Nov 17th is National Take A Hike Day
- Nov 18th is the birthday of maybe everyone’s favorite mouse (or not?!) – it is Mickey Mouse Birthday day…
- National Play Monopoly Day is on the 19th of November, and we all enjoy playing it every so often so why not this week?
- Nov 20th happens to be National Absurdity Day
- As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Nov 20th is also World Children’s Day (and one of the earmarked National Child’s Day as well in the US!)
- Say hello on the 21st of November this year as it happens to be World Hello Day, and sit down to watch the television for it is also World Television Day!
Related Books and Reads
Suggestions related to various aspects of today’s blog
- How Do You Live? – a recent read that is a delightful blend of so many aspects, including philosophy, the joys of childhood, and more
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – a book I have never reviewed yet mentioned numerous times on my blog
- 10 Shows to Binge Watch With Your Teens
- Read Voltaire’s Candide on Project Gutenberg
- Book Review: Rivers : A Visual History from River to Sea by Peter Goes
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Wrapping up my Sunday Scribblings
So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. And do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month? I hope I inspired you to write a tongue twister poem this week. If you do write one, don’t forget to share it with me; I know I will love reading it!