November is a great month. The stores are chock full of discounted Halloween and you’ve got the end of Daylight Savings Time; even if you don’t like that it gets dark before 5:00 PM, everyone can appreciate the extra hour of sleep on the first Sunday of the month. And of course there’s Thanksgiving, the best holiday of the year for many people, and all the turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie that goes with it. There’s one more holiday we think you should know about, though, and that’s International Tongue Twister Day. Always the second Sunday of November, International Tongue Twister Day falls on November 9 this year, so make sure you spend some time practicing a few before then so you can impress all your friends.
Whether you love tongue twisters or hate them, you probably know at least a few. Peter Piper’s peck of pickled peppers is perhaps the best known tongue twister of all, but did you know Peter Piper was a real person? Pierre Poivre (his first name is the French version of Peter, while his last name means pepper in French) was an 18th century horticulturist who had to find creative ways to obtain spices like cloves and nutmegs (the peppers) from Dutch merchant ships. The nursery rhyme and tongue twister we know today was created even before the end of his lifetime.
You probably know some other classic tongue twisters too, like “She sells seashells by the seashore,” “unique New York,” and “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck If a woodchuck could chuck wood?” Some of them get easier when you get older, but others may get tougher. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the hardest tongue twister in the English language is “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.” Odds are you’ll have a hard time reading it quickly even once, much less three, five, or ten times, but if you’re good at it, you may want to give the folks at Guinness a call.
Even if it’s no “sixth sick sheik,” everyone has that one tongue twister that ties them up in knots every time. What’s yours? Let us know in the comments.