Tongue twisters as a language game exists in all cultures. While they strongly reflect the unique characteristics of the sounds of a language or dialect, they are also culturally rich. In Chinese, as a result of her great variety of dialects and subcultures, there exist an enormously rich collection of tongue twisters.
There are essay like, long tongue twisters, such as the famous A Story of Mr. Shi Who Ate Lions《施氏食獅史》. There are also short ones, just like nursery rhymes. These little rhymes are usually humourous and fun to read. They are perfect for children to practice Chinese.
Learning some tongue twister can help children practice certain difficult sounds and improve articulation. It can be used as a speech remedy. It makes children become more sensitive to the way words sound. It also help them learn rhyming words which are important in writing. In fact, apart from children, many professional public speakers or voice artists also use tongue twisters as warm-ups or practices.
A lot of the tongue twisters focus on consonants. For example,
而強調韻母的例子有 Below are examples that focus on vowels.
In Putonghua (Mandarin), in additional to consonants and vowels, there are also the ever so challenging intonations (please see more examples in the following section). Cantonese tops Putonghua by adding focus on the silent consonant at the end of a character, as whether you keep your lips apart or tight makes all the difference. Below is a popular example.
We have compiled a list of tongue twisters below, some of which have been adapted to the Sage Formula course. Have some fun and give it a go!