As I stumbled along the beach of life I came across an accidental tongue-twister, a sort of object trouvé, like the pebbles beachcombers collect.
Every day the Times of London has a Quick Cryptic Crossword.
Try saying the phrase out loud 10 times in rapid succession.
I've always adored tongue-twisters. My favorite is one I heard many years back on the radio. I don't know who invented it but I'm very grateful to them. It comes with a little backdrop story.
The late Queen Mother was going round a saucepan factory. Pausing by a workman she asked what he was doing, which lead to the following noblesse oblige conversation:
"Are you aluminiuming them my man?" "No, I'm copper-bottoming 'em Mum."
I've often wondered whether there is a theory of tongue-twisters. Could a computer design phenomenally hard ones? There must be some kind of analysis possible that would let us understand what makes a phrase hard to say repeatedly.
Step forward MIT. In 2013 a research team collected and analyzed a collection of speech errors made by experimental subjects. Based on this they devised a fiendishly difficult tongue-twister. Are you ready? Do you want to fetch a glass of water for safety's sake? OK here we go.
pad kid poured curd pulled cod
Call that tongue-twisting? Feeble, isn't it?
Science, successful in so many ways, flunked here. And commentators were too lazy to say so — or couldn't — or wouldn't.
In contrast, here is a real killer I was taught by a Polish friend. For background, Lola is a woman's name; loyola means 'is loyal'; 'nie' pronounced 'knee-ay' means not. But the meaning doesn't matter really. Just remember how 'nie' should be said. 10 times out loud remember.
Lola loyola. Lola nie loyola.
The word tongue-twister is fairly recent it seems. The Oxford English Dictionary only records it from 1898, and in 1904 the Speaker offered this, which ain't bad
Miss Smith's fish-sauce shop
Favorite tongue-twisters anybody?