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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

MIT researchers create world's trickiest tongue twister

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Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

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According to MIT researchers, the most difficult phrase to spit out is "pad kid poured curd pulled cod".

Trying to wrap your tongue around a phrase or short poem with repeated sounds is something that humans have been doing for centuries — at least that we know of: the practice probably goes back further than recorded history. We grew up giggling over tongue twisters like "Betty Botter bought a bit of butter" and "she sells sea shells by the sea shore" (and some more sweary variants).

Researchers at MIT now claim that they've conceived the most difficult tongue twister ever: "pad kid poured curd pulled cod". According to the lead researcher, psychologist Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, it tripped up test subjects with high frequency — so much so that the team was offering a prize to anyone at last week's meeting of the Acoustical Society of America who could say the phrase 10 times quickly.

MIT isn't just studying tongue twisters for a laugh: Shattuck-Hufnagel studies speech errors as a way to understand normal brain function. "When things go wrong, that can tell you something about how the typical, error-free operation should go," she said. The team presented research wherein they had recorded volunteers speaking alliterative phrases, such as "top cop" and "toy boat", discovering that there were patterns in the way the speakers would stumble over the words.

This led to the creation of the "pad kid" tongue twister, which, to be honest, isn't really all that fun to say for the simple reason that it doesn't make a lot of sense.

We still think it has nothing on "The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick" or even "red leather, yellow leather".

You can see the full results of the team's research online at PubMed, titled "A comparison of speech errors elicited by sentences and alternating repetitive tongue twisters."


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ChrisJ6 posted a comment   

"pad kid poured curd pulled cod"? That doesn't even make sense. Every other tongue-twister tells a bit of a story. This one just seems like a bunch of random words that are moderately difficult to say in order. Glad MIT has nothing more pressing to worry about.


RobS1 posted a comment   

Come back and try again when you have one that's harder than "The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick."


SaneeshB posted a comment   

2 EASY.....


ArunsundarM posted a comment   

Seemed fairly easy to me


MatthewD3 posted a comment   

It's simple, you just have to put the words in the jumble into some easy to process context, once you tie each word to an anchor of your own conception you can easily process the words and spit them out in rapid fire, having done that with this "World's biggest tongue twister" I was able to repeat it soundly at what too these researchers stunning speeds. I was under the impression that M.I.T was a institution for geniuses.


OscarJ posted a comment   

how about cant beat peat's meatballs


CarieS posted a comment   

i had no problem saying it a few times


DavidP14 posted a comment   

I can imagine R.A. The Rugged Man could do this as well as the rest of them in his sleep.


RoryH posted a comment   

That wasn't difficult to say multiple times.


MarceloP1 posted a comment   

"Shattuck-Hufnagel" is such a tongue twister hehe

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