I wanted to start today’s blog by sharing a story from the very famous Stephen Fry,
UK’s celebrated narrator of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series…
So, the story goes that Stephen was discussing the narration of the then-new author’s first Potter book and she mentioned proudly that she had another on the way…
(who would’ve guessed, right?) Apparently Stephen Fry said something terribly condescending to ‘JK’ about her next book along the lines of: Oh how splendid! Good for you!
According to Stephen Fry, he was a marked man from that day…
In a chapter of the first book, a line that Stephen had to read was ‘Harry pocketed it’... he had no end of trouble trying to pronounce the phrase so, he suggested a revision to JK Rowling, saying that it would be so much easier to say ‘Harry put it in his pocket’... JK Rowling vehemently disagreed with any change in the copy and to add insult to injury also used the phrase ‘Harry pocketed it’ in the following four books in the Harry Potter series!
I’m not sure how ‘tongue in cheek’ the above story is,
However true or not, it points to the fact, we can be tripped up completely by phrases that sometimes others find really easy… It’s all just part of the VO Journey and an integral part of the puzzle of building your voice over business.
So, today we are going to have a ‘bit of fun’ and go through my favorite tongue twisters that will get you ready for the most difficult ‘read’ to ever be thrown your way!
1. One of the absolute classics and most popular twisters of all would have to be: Peter Piper! This twister will help you improve your Ps, Rs, and Ls. a good basic workout for your mouth...
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
2. Another classic is the story of Betty and her bit of butter. This twister will help you differentiate the sounds in seemingly similar words like batter and butter, bitter and better, and bought. Oh... Brother!
Betty bought a bit of butter.
But the bit of butter Betty bought was bitter.
If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter
But a bit of better butter will make my batter better
So, Betty bought a better bit of butter.
3. Shorter than the previous two, but more challenging. This twister uses digraphs which are a pair of letters that make one sound like sh and ch.
She sells seashells by the seashore, The seashells she sells, are seashells I’m sure.
4. This next one is a mix of digraphs and blends—a pair of letters that unlike a digraph, make two separate sounds like sn, bl, and br. Here we go gang, this one’s tough!
Through three cheese trees, three free fleas flew.
While these fleas flew, a freezy breeze blew.
Freezy breeze made these three trees freeze.
Freezy trees made these trees’ cheese freeze.
That’s what made these three free fleas sneeze.
5. The infamous ‘Wood Chuck’ twister introduces the difference between the “o” sound in words like would, wood, and could. It’s also another digraph practice with the ch sound. This is a fun twister Once you get the hang of the “o” sounds… Also a good stretch for the tongue before narration and long formwork...
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would
if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
6. This tongue twister highlights the difference between the “i” sound in the words slit, sleet, and sheet. Give this one a try...
I slit a sheet, a sheet, I slit.
Upon a slitted sheet, I sit.
7. This is digraph practice but with an added challenge to the unpracticed. The words witch and which sound alike, but of course, they mean completely different things. That’s why emphasizing the sound of one tiny “t” makes a massive difference. Be sure to say ‘Witch’ correctly :)
Which witch is which? (x3) fast!
8. The Swiss wristwatches twister, one of the trickier ones that will really twist your tongue! You might have trouble at first, but it’s an effective way to practice your W’s and is a great workout.
Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches? (x3)
9. Leery Larry is a one-sentence twister but will help you improve on your ‘L’s and R sounds.
A really leery Larry rolls readily to the road.
10. Here are some tricky pronunciations. Focus on the digraphs, blends, and the short “o” sounds for a solid mouth and sibilance workout.
To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!
11. Ever seen the imaginary menagerie before? This sentence helps you practice the soft sound produced by “g.” try it really close to the mic...
Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager managing an imaginary menagerie.
12. This twister introduces all the different sounds produced by the digraph th. Pay particular attention to each th word really just to see how different they all sound from one another.
The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.
13. A twister to help you practice your sh and s sounds and watch your sibilant hisses!
“Surely Sylvia swims!” shrieked Sammy surprised. “Someone should show Sylvia some strokes so she shall not sink.”
14. The Fuzzy Wuzzy story will teach you all about the fuzzy bear and will help you work on your F, W, and Z sounds. Say the sentence slow and deliberately at first, then as quickly as you can.
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. A Fuzzy bear was Wuzzy. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?
15. Another good voiceover workout for your R sounds. This can be a bit challenging at first, but when you get the hang of it your Rs will rrrrroll out perfectly!
If you must cross a course cross cow across a crowded cow crossing, cross the cross coarse cow across the crowded cow crossing carefully.
16. This twister held the title for being the world’s toughest tongue twister, but the Guinness category for it sadly is now gone, so it’s just unofficially the toughest twister of all time. Try it for yourself, it’s a killer...
The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.
Here are some more obscure tongue twisters that you can use to practice your vocab and pronunciation. It might seem pretty difficult at first, but the pay off is worth it! Just keep trying until you get the sounds ‘nailed’ perfectly. It will make a huge difference to your vocal resilience and naturally to your tone and your voiceovers.
17. Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks.
18. Rory the warrior and Roger the worrier were reared wrongly in a rural brewery.
19. Send toast to ten tense stout saints’ ten tall tents.
20. Green glass globes graciously glow greenly.
21. Nine nice night nurses are nursing nicely
22. Fred fed Ted bread, and Ted fed Fred bread
23. Susie works in a shoeshine shop. Where she shines she sits, and where she sits she shines
24. I couldn’t forget the old favorite, Red leather, yellow leather. (x3) As fast as you can!
25. Finally, Near an ear, a nearer ear, a nearly eerie ear
Hoping you’ve enjoyed this run-through of tongue twisters from all over the globe.
If you’d like some further help with your pronunciations, VO tips and how to start and develop further in your VO journey, CLICK HERE
If you’d like more tips on your voice style,
like how to develop your conversational tone, CLICK HERE
To your ongoing Voiceover Success,