MIT Researchers Reveal The World's Toughest Tongue Twister!

By Meera Dolasia on December 6, 2013

CCSS NAS-6 Grades: 3-8 Word Search

According to The Guinness Book of World Records, the toughest tongue twister is 'The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick'. However, if researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are to be believed, there may be a new contender for that coveted spot.

Dr. Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel and her team assert that 'pad kid poured curd pulled cold' is the toughest tongue twister that has ever been concocted. In fact it is so difficult, that when people were asked to repeat it rapidly ten times, they became so tongue-tied that they stopped speaking altogether. The twister revealed at the Fall Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America that was held in San Francisco from December 2nd-6th, was part of a study conducted by Stefanie's team to get some insight into the human brain's speech planning process.

The researcher says that for some reason when certain words are spoken together quickly, people seem to lose control and more often than not, the one sound seems to replace the other. For example try saying toy boat fast a few times and you will soon start pronouncing the words as 'toy boyt'! Similarly, 'top cop' seems to rapidly turns into 'cop cop!'

How the brain processes each tongue twister also seems to depend on if it comprises of a few words or is a full sentence. In the former case, the tongue often ends up saying just the first letter of the first word-like tkop instead 'top cop', while in the case of the latter it sounds like 'tah-kop'. While not sure, they believe it may have something to do with the regular rhythm of a word list as compared to the somewhat irregular timing of a sentence.

The MIT team plan to continue their research by placing tiny transducers on the tongues of volunteers and measuring their articulation to try gain further insight. Meanwhile, we can all drive people around us a little crazy, by constantly repeating a phrase that even the researchers agree makes no sense.

'pad kid poured curd pulled cold'



Critical Thinking Challenge:

What is your favorite tongue twister?

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  • alaysiane
    alaysianeWednesday, October 22, 2014 at 11:57 am
    I'm not turning them it will be to hard for me :(
    • tymirjo
      tymirjoWednesday, October 22, 2014 at 11:52 am
      I agree wit jaysen
      • kfavors
        kfavorsTuesday, October 21, 2014 at 3:54 pm
        This is what happened when I said it,bad fib pop curl pull pold
        • jacobse
          jacobseTuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11:43 am
          it has good toungh twisters
          • jaysenfe
            jaysenfeTuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11:39 am
            It was cool but the tongue twisters were so hard to say. When I said it , it was so funny
            • pinksparkle101
              pinksparkle101Saturday, July 5, 2014 at 4:24 pm
              peter piper picked a patch of pickled peppers. how many did peter piper pick? i can also say..... Sally sells seashells by the seashore. and last of all,i like the woodchuck thing but i cant really say it
              • VikksBThursday, June 12, 2014 at 11:58 pm
                She Sells Sea Shells on the Sea Shore
                • batmanSunday, June 8, 2014 at 9:19 pm
                  this is actually pretty easy
                  • aSaturday, May 31, 2014 at 11:13 am
                    'pad kid poured curd pulled cold' is so easssssssy
                    • coolcatSunday, April 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm
                      I keep trying to say the tongue twister but i can't say it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




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