Beyond Words - Language Blog

Top 10 Tongue Twisters in Translation

Tongue twisters are designed to be difficult to articulate, and they are nearly impossible to translate in a way that keeps the playful challenge intact. Nevertheless, they are fun to say in every language. Here is a collection of our top tongue twisters from across the globe…

FRENCH

Un pâtissier qui pâtissait chez un tapissier qui tapissait, dit un jour au tapissier qui tapissait: vaut-il mieux pâtisser chez un tapissier qui tapisse ou tapisser chez un pâtissier qui pâtisse?

(A pastry chef who made pastries at the house of a tapestry maker who made tapestries, said one day to the tapestry maker who made tapestries: is it better to make pastries at a tapestry maker’s who makes tapestries or to make tapestries at a pastry chef’s who makes pastries?)

SPANISH

Si yo como como como,
y tu comes como comes.
¿Cómo comes como como?
Si yo como como como.

(If I eat like I eat, and you eat like you eat, how do you eat like I eat, if I eat like I eat.)

El amor es una locura
que solo el cura lo cura,
pero el cura que lo cura
comete una gran locura.

(Love is a madness that only a priest can cure, but the priest who cures it commits a great madness.)

ITALIAN

Pio Pietro Paolo Pula pittore Palermitano, pinse pittura per poco prezzo. Prepotenti popolo pagate presto Pio Pietro Paolo Pula per partire per Palermo propria patria.

(Pio Pietro Paolo Pula, an artist from Palermo, paints a painting for little money. You haughty people, pay Pio Pietro Paolo Pula promptly so he’ll leave for Palermo, his hometown.)

Sopra la panca la capra campa, sotto la panca la capra crepa.

(On the top of the bench, the goat lives, below the bench, the goat dies.)

PORTUGUESE

O rato roeu a roupa do rei de Roma. A rainha de raiva roeu o resto.

(The rat chewed the clothes of the King of Rome. The angry queen chewed the rest.)

GERMAN

Bismarck biss Mark, bis Mark Bismarck biss.

(Bismarck bit Mark until Mark bit Bismarck.)

Biedere brave Bierbauerburschen bereiten beständig bitteres braunes bayrisches Bier.

(Bold and brave beer brewers always prepare bitter, brown, Bavarian beer.)

DUTCH

Als vliegen vliegen vliegen vliegen vliegensvlug.

(When flies fly flies fly fly-fast.)

Lientje leerde Lotje lopen langs de lange lindelaan.

(Along the long lime-tree lane, Lientje taught Lotje how to walk.)

NORWEGIAN

Fule fluers fugleflukt flyr fluksens flott.

(Foul flies’ bird-flight fly darn great.)

Fisker’n Finn fiska fersk fisk forige fredag.

(Finn the Fisher fished fresh fish last Friday.)

RUSSIAN

Карл у Клары украл кораллы, а Клара у Карла украла кларнет.
(Karl stole corals from Klara and Klara stole a clarinet from Karl.)

Шла Саша по шоссе и сосала сушку.
(Sasha walked along the avenue sucking on a cracker.)

SWEDISH

Sju sjösjuka sjömän sköttes av sju skönsjungande sjuksköterskor på det sjunkande skeppet Shanghai.
(Seven seasick sailors were taken care of by seven beautifully singing nurses on the sinking ship Shanghai.)

Ö, ö,
Hö ö,
Hö ös mö.
(Island, island, grassy island, grassy island’s bride)