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This contest is now closed. But enjoy!

(Click here to go directly to the winning entries.)

We were mere lasses (well, one lass and one lad) when we first tried to pronounce "Bug's black blood" and "Miss Smith dismisseth us" three times each as fast as possible. The result, of course, was the risible pretzelization of our lingual equipment.

In more recent days, we've had fun coming up with new tongue-twisters of our own, such as the one serving as the title of this contest. If you can wrap your mouth around that one, then try saying "Proper purple paper pulp" three times fast, or the ostensible headline "Friar Fires Flyer Filers." And if you can handle those, then try repeatedly uttering this disdainful putdown of a narrow geographical feature: "Isthmus Shmisthmus!"

We invite you now to wreak havoc with our palates by forging brand-new tongue-twisters. Send your unpronounceable invention (or more than one, if you wish) to CoxRathvon. We'll pick our three favorites based on the actual difficulty we have in saying them three times fast. (Come to think of it, "Say this fast thrice" would itself be hard to say three times fast.) As always, humor will be appreciated. Add an explanation, gloss, or quip if your tongue-twister would otherwise seem too opaque. And please spare us the schoolyard oldies involving toy boats, slit sheets, and shipyards full of ashes--we've heard 'em. We're looking for bold, new crypto-enunciations for the 1990s.

We will continue accepting entries to Six Thickset Chefs through Friday, July 28. Results will be posted on Friday, August 4.

Okay, do the twist!

--EC and HR


(All names without @ symbols are AOL screen names.)

"Twisted texts vex best."

This pithy apothegm was submitted by contestant RevMJK. Rarely have truer words been spoken--and in this case, they were rarely spoken truly, because our faculties were so thoroughly flummoxed by his phraseology!

RevMJK's tongue-twister was one of roughly 150 dispatched to our e box. It was also one of the dozen or so finalists in a contest that forced us to pronounce each entry as fast as possible, over and over again. We performed this breathless task at home, on walks, and in local restaurants (eliciting some *very* strange looks from our fellow diners--but assiduous puzzle-hosts must not be daunted in their duty!).

Among the toughest entries were some "found" tongue-twisters. Abi Short challenged us to say "Arnold Palmer" three times fast. Notbath issued the same challenge for "tachistoscopes" and "brickbat." Others of you found "CoxRathvon" itself a stumper; SSAPhD submitted "CoxRathvon twists tongues" and Mztlplx offered "CoxRathvon cooked crooked cracked lobsters."

The only fair way to decide upon our winners was for us to keep plugging away at the killer-dillers until we'd mastered all but three. Sometimes we were hampered by our sheer mirth, as when contemplating the story behind Alamano's "Frieda finally flung Fred's flounder." (We can just see that fish in mid-fling!) Other times, we wondered what *sense* the tongue-twister ultimately made--but we didn't let that dissuade us from attacking it with our bepretzeled lips.

Below are the three concoctions we found most unpronounceable. Congratulations to Ravensegg, Abi Short, and Zonkerette! We encourage everyone to suffer through (er... enjoy) these entries just as we did! (Should you find that you breeze through our winners, you may come to a stuttering, spluttering stop on another utterance altogether! Now get yourself lingually limbered, and good luck!)

***Our Winners***

Michael had three wishes. Now that his little brother Mitchell is a toad, Mom wants to know:
"Which wish switched Mitch?!?"

I came upon this tongue-twister by accident:
"Real Weird Squirrel"
I have trouble saying it correctly even once! I was walking through camp one day with my family when I spied a squirrel doing something, and I said, "Oh, that's a real weird squirrel!" Only it came out something like, "Oh, that's a weel reerd sqwill!"
(Abi Short)

Minimum cinnamon-mimicking synonyms

***And Lots More Stuff You Won't Say Without a Fight***

Didn't Dick ditch the Dutch disk?
(Is it English or is it Morse code?) (JebMar)

Swiss soldiers shrug shoulders (Glemward)

This contest makes me want to come after you with a
"blunt black brickbat" (Hotznplotz)

What most drove me crazy about high school in NYC? The
"Waspish poshness" (Hotznplotz)

The fourth-grade class
"braids grass blades" (GALenker)

Fresh Fish Flesh Fetish
(Can you imagine a nice seafood restaurant where this was the main dish? I think I'll have the duck, thank you.) (StoppingBy)

While surfing the net, I came across a bulletin board which discusses the attire of Speaker of the House Gingrich. Yesterday, a heated debate broke out over his sloppy ties:
"Neat net nuts note Newt's knit knots" (JoJoFrance)

Phoebe, poised and rosy, posed in Boise
(Ms. Cates paused for a photo shoot in Idaho.) (Ravensegg)

The withered wizard zithered and whistled (TinLizzard)

Gringo Gingrich (RevMJK)

Ostrich obstetrics (Notbath)

Ostrich mosh pits (Mokaplpi)

Sisyphus fishes sheepishly (Zonkerette)

Wrinkled wiry wrestlers (ShedPot)

When drinking through a straw, a polite guest always
"usurps a slurp." (JHFrancis)

Smooth shoes soothe Sue's soles (Alamano)

Barbara's barber gobbles marbles (Alamano)

Trish and Rich lick licorice sticks (Alamano)

Clustered porpoise corpuscles (Alamano)

Normal Mormons mingle (Alamano)

Clyde cried quietly (AshMop)

Fred fled frantically from Fleiss (AshMop)

She sits sullenly (AshMop)

Maria and Arnold just had a baby girl. She's named for Arnold's acting coach:
Zsa Zsa Shriver-Schwarzenegger (StefSpad)

Recently, (this is the true part), I met Coach K from Duke on a trip to Toronto. He was putting on a basketball clinic and, naturally, looking around for tall guys. If he were to continue that effort in Western Canada, it is not unlikely that he would enlist the aid of his friend Detlef from the NBA Seattle Sonics. The event would be billed as the:
Banff Krzyzewski - Schrempf Shootout (G8ly)

Did you know that the demand in the Yukon is so great that they actually have...
"bulk mukluk clerks"?
(This may be more of a throat jammer than a tongue twister!) (Mokaplpi)

Cryptic triptych (Mokaplpi)

Sanskrit transcript (Mokaplpi)

Susie's "Shoe" Sign (Mokaplpi)

Fresh pressed parsley pesto presto (Mastclark)

Texas tax cuts (Hotznplotz)

Six swearing Scythians shouted spurious sibilant shibboleths (Glemward)

Solipsistic spinster sisters (GALenker)

Three fleas fly free (CATLETTERS)

Pete petted Pat's predator, Ted debited Deb's creditor, Ed credited Ted's editor (Rickwins)

Watch a Oaxaca chihuahua cha-cha (Rickwins)

Any anemone's Nemo's enemy (Rickwins)

Thither the thrifty thrip's thin plinth's pith (Rickwins)

Some think thin thumbs throb thrice thick ones (Wagsalot)

Sleazy Suzy loves Lizzy's sizzlin' lizard innards (Blotterboy)

Right-wing ringers write trite gripes (RHorton508)

Inexplicably the dirigible landed inextricably on the balcony (TinLizzard)

Tacky plastic cactus prickles tickle;
Classy crystal cactus prickles tinkle (DuaneTS)

coy lout (Comikest)

Bulbous, blemished schnozzles sneezing (Zonkerette)

Gladly gurgling gleeful gargoyles (Zonkerette)

Feeble flounders flee foibles (Zonkerette)

Palomino liniment (Zonkerette)

The whitewood by the wieldy wicket wiggled wildly while Willy waited watching (Gardenia)

Wee Willie whittled wicopy while Whittier whistled (Gardenia)

Norman noodled, nimbly needling needy kneelers (Mztlplx)

She stitches thickets, thatching through the thickest hatchlings (Mztlplx)

Susan summarily sued Mary Lee, So Mary Lee merely merrily married Lee (Mztlplx)

Fritz Fisher fished for fresh fish. Frank frisked Fritz for forbidden fresh fish (Mztlplx)

Pretty pithy pity (RevMJK)

Damp, dappled dimples (RevMJK)

Prithee! Prick Peter's ponderous postulate! (ChicOtheC)

Some supine porcupines opine divinely, some asininely (AGuffaw)

Galling Olivia Doyle's boiled in oily aioli (AGuffaw)

Sam's son's son, Sampson saw "Sampson & Son" Sunday (Maculate)

Though the thought that they thought threw them, they thought through the thought to the theorum (From the "Gee, I'm a Tree" Class) (RHorton 508)

Leafhoppers leap leafage lithely (Turnberry2)

Obstinate obstetricians obfuscate obesity (Turnberry2)

The shifty sheik shot the shilly-shallying shyster (Turnberry2)

The strange strong stranger struggled strangely (Turnberry2)

Phil thrills to Bill's spills! (The 1996 campaign has begun already.) (Mary Neon)

Thurber swims through thund'rous seas (Kthurb)

Lancelot likes Lillian's lace lapel (LauretteA)

Carruthers smothered Strothers other brother (Eagledge)

That tired threesome tried to take their troublesome toddlers trick or treating to town at twilight (Salbert101)

Forty-five fat friars fried frankfurters in Phoenix (Alamarr)

The Daisies by the Dozen daily delivery driver delivered a dozen daily daisies to Daisy Denton's den door (Alamarr)

Bed bugs breed bad bugs (Alamarr)
Betty Barker had a bunch of bed bugs (Alamarr)
Betty Barker's bunch of bed bugs bred a bunch of bad bugs (Alamarr)
Beware of the bunch of bad bugs Betty Barker's bed bugs bred (Alamarr)

Six Crisp Lisps Dis Isthmus (EricZuerch)

That tired threesome tried to take their troublesome toddlers trick or treating to town at twilight (SAlbert101)

Copyright © 1995 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.