Old Tongue Twisters

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, January 10, 1913:  Our Literary Society met this afternoon. We got that old dialogue off, but some of us made mistakes.

DSC07010Recent photo of building that once housed the McEwensville Schools. In 1913, the primary school was on the first floor and the high school was on the second floor.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was very active in the Literary Society at McEwensville High School. Two days prior to this entry she wrote that she had memorized her part of the dialogue.

What types of mistakes did they make?  Maybe Grandma (or others) forgot some of the lines.. . . or maybe some words weren’t pronounced clearly.

A very old book called Osgood’s American Sixth Reader gives some sentences that are difficult to articulate for students to practice:

1. The cat ran up the ladder with a lump of raw liver in her mouth.

2, Summer showers and soft sunshine, shed sweet influences on spreading shrubs and shooting seeds.

3. Henry Hignham has hung his harp on the hook where hitherto he hung his hope.

4. Whelply Whewell White was a whimsical, whining, whispering, whittling whistler.

5. Round the rough and rugged rocks the ragged rascals rudely ran.

These sentences remind me of when I was a child and used to try to say, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” five times as fast as I could without making a mistake. . .

18 Responses

  1. I had to try them out. They do twist the tongue. The cat got a rump of raw liver instead of a lump ;-).

  2. I had fun with number 1 and 5

  3. Twisting tongue is making me laugh, love these sayings tho I am having difficulty.

  4. What fun! Had to try them out with my kids… we often do Peter Piper… especially when we are in the garden we like to do tongue twisters while we work… now we have a few more. Thanks! :)

  5. One we used to do while riding was: Twister & Trigger trotted toward the twisted, twining, trail. I had forgotten this one until my son reminded me. my horses name is Twister & my son’s Trigger.

  6. What precisely do you think “dialogue” means in this case? Are you saying that it’s like speech class?

  7. They definitely remind me of the warmup exercises some actors do before performances to warm up their voices or the exercises that speech therapists use to help people pronounce difficult sounds.

  8. Nice picture is this from the recent snow fall? I would have found it difficult to do those lessons…wow.

  9. I was never good at tongue twisters ;-) I also nominated you for the Wonderful Team Reader Membership award http://cassmob.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/wonderful-team-member-readership-award/.
    I know you don’t usually get involved in the whole award process but I wanted to acknowledge your support with my blog. Thank you!

    • Thank you for nominating me.I’m honored that you think this blog is worthy of it. Even though I don’t accept the awards in a post, I really appreciate the nomination.

  10. Even in her older years, my grandmother loved to read dialogues and pieces from her elocution book. That class must have been so important to her; just a few words into her elocution warm-up seemed tp ,ale her so happy. I think she a Helena must have had much in common.

    • It does seem like dialogues and recitations were really important to my grandmother. I can also remember my father (her son) quoting poems he learned in school when he was in his 40s and 50s. Elocution was a thing of the past by the time I was in school. It doesn’t sound like fun to me–but maybe I missed something.

  11. Oh dear, I’m no good at these at all..I definitely would be voted off the island LOL…hey, look at the snow!

  12. #2 is not Humanly possible! My tongue is officially exhausted

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