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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  • gregoryen
    gregoryenFriday, March 6, 2015 at 10:44 am
    Its ok
    • lebeldi
      lebeldiFriday, March 6, 2015 at 10:29 am
      this made my tongue twist
      • 090509
        090509Friday, January 30, 2015 at 9:55 am
        yes i can can a canners can a can
        • EmilySunday, January 11, 2015 at 6:18 am
          i love can you can a can as a canner can can a can
          • 090509
            090509Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 3:42 pm
            i can do it and i did not really have a hard time doing it
            • CuteWednesday, December 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm
              Say this fast How much wood does a woodchip chip if a wood chip can chip wood did you say it fast?
              • aphphilippines
                aphphilippinesSunday, December 14, 2014 at 9:23 am
                I think everyone can say that fast, and I think everyone did.
              • gap430
                gap430Friday, November 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm
                none of them are that hard
                • w0lfl0ver4life
                  w0lfl0ver4lifeTuesday, December 9, 2014 at 2:36 pm
                  ikr, happypug12. like this is easy?
                  • happypug12
                    happypug12Friday, November 21, 2014 at 2:09 pm
                    Really, gap430? So all of the tongue twisters are easy?
                  • nikukyu
                    nikukyuWednesday, November 19, 2014 at 5:02 am
                    The tounge twister on the first drawing is hard, but besides that, it's easy!
                    • happypug12
                      happypug12Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 5:05 am
                      Yeah, the first tongue twister is the hardest! I should get a group of people together and ask them to all try the same or a different tongue twister at the same time! That would be so funny, watching everyone try to complete their tongue twister at the same time!
                      • nikukyu
                        nikukyuFriday, November 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm
                        That would be so funny!!
                        • gap430
                          gap430Friday, November 21, 2014 at 12:18 pm
                          that would be hard
                          • happypug12
                            happypug12Friday, November 21, 2014 at 2:09 pm
                            That would be HARD and FUNNY. : )
                      • anyonomusTuesday, November 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm
                        its easy...
                        • gregoryen
                          gregoryenMonday, November 10, 2014 at 11:34 am




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