MIT Researchers Reveal The World's Toughest Tongue Twister!

By Meera Dolasia on December 6, 2013

CCSS NAS-6 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'

Resources: Huffingtonpost.com, dailymail.co.uk

Listen to the Article: Play Audio

Create MLA, Chicago, or APA Website Citation

Create a website citation for this article. We support MLA8, MLA7, APA, and Chicago citation formats.

VocabularyPlay Game

articulationconcoctedcontenderinsightirregularrhythmtransducers

Critical Thinking Challenge

What is your favorite tongue twister?

565 Comments
to use your custom avatar.
  • geckoslizards
    geckoslizardsWednesday, May 17, 2017 at 5:14 pm
    i suck at tongue twisters
    • AnalyticallyMonday, April 24, 2017 at 3:38 pm
      How about "Ride the wheelbarrell to the white wreck to re-weld the right rear wheel well weld right, right?" I LOL every time I try to read this.
      • notch_100
        notch_100Monday, February 6, 2017 at 6:44 am
        How much wood can a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood???
        • uknown
          uknownWednesday, February 8, 2017 at 3:29 pm
          not hard
        • passok
          passokTuesday, November 8, 2016 at 2:52 pm
          but it is easy if you know how to say it right
          • passok
            passokTuesday, November 8, 2016 at 2:50 pm
            it is hard
            • puppykittySunday, February 7, 2016 at 6:20 pm
              same i belive it i cant even pronce it sam way i can not pronace saspific
              • hardySaturday, January 30, 2016 at 3:41 pm
                my tongue tied and i cant get it out!
                • hernabra000
                  hernabra000Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 8:27 am
                  so hard
                  • pendltre000
                    pendltre000Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 8:18 am
                    Thats just weak theres only two tounge twisters and there sooooooooo easyyy
                    • pendltre000
                      pendltre000Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 8:15 am
                      I can do it its just repeating the same words with other words between.

                      Recent Comments

                      Hi! wrote:

                      Love pink donuts 🍩! But never ne...
                      National Donut Day Is On Friday,...

                      raebae
                      raebae wrote:

                      i wish they were not soo fatt tho
                      Thailand's Famous Macaque "Uncle...

                      raebae
                      raebae wrote:

                      O M G cuteness over load i ca...
                      Thailand's Famous Macaque "Uncle...

                      raebae
                      raebae wrote:

                      i hate when this happens
                      The Once Pristine Henderson Isla...

                      Our Apps and Plugins

                      ALA