Forget Peter Piper’s peppers and the rain in Spain, or whatever consonant riddled concoctions our native tongue can throw at us, because you can pretty much rest assured they will always pale in comparison to their Polish counterparts, the language with perhaps the twistiest of the tongue twisters. Getting used to the various Polish sounds is a difficult task for most learners; it’s a language full of sibilants (hissing sounds) and frugal with its vowels to say the least.
It should come as no surprise then that these tongue twisters really can leave you in a pickle and even some poles will end up looking like they’ve had a night on the Piwo (Beer) after trying them.
Here are some twisters, I will try and start with some easy ones, just to give you chance. Beware though, like their English counterparts they don’t really make any sense!
Czy tata czyta cytaty Tacyta? (Does dad read quotations from Tacitus?)
Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami. (Table with a broken legs.)
There’s no need to worry if you find yourself in a bar with a wobbly table though, you don’t have to attempt this muddle of ‘y’ and ‘i’, just say Stół bez nóg (Table without legs) instead, and with some luck the bar staff will understand the problem!
Król Karol kupił królowej Karolinie korale koloru koralowego. (King Karol bought a coral coloured necklace for queen Karoline.)
Szły pchły koło wody, pchła pchłe pchła do wody i ta pchła płakała, że ją tamta pchła popchała. (Some fleas were walking next to the water and one flea pushed another in, who cried because she was pushed by the other flea in to the water.)
Szedł Sasza suchą szosą I suszył sobie spodnie. (Sacha was walking along a dry road and he was drying his trousers). And this one’s easier, younger brother: W czasie suszy sucha szosa Sasza szedl. (Sacha was walking along a road in a drought).
W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie a Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie że chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie. (In [the town of] Szczebrzeszyn a beetle buzzes in the reed, for which Szczebrzeszyn is famous)
(This one probably makes the most sense, and if you visit Szczebrzeszyn today, you can still see how proud the five thousand inhabitants are of their legendary, tongue twisting, buzzing beetle, from the statue standing proud in the town square.)
We szwy płaszcza się zaszywszy w szyku marsza trzy wszy weszły. (Hiding in the seams of a coat, three lice entered marching in formation.)
Leży Jerzy na wieży i nie wierzy, że na drugiej wieży leży drugi Jerzy. (George is lying in a tower and doesn’t believe that there is another George lying in a second tower.)
Nie pieprz Pietrze wieprza pieprzem, bo przepieprzysz wieprza pieprzem. (Peter don’t put pepper on the boar because you may put too much pepper on it.)
Czarna krowa w kropki bordo gryzie trawę kręcąc mordą. (Black cow with maroon spots is eating grass while shaking her head.) – This one isn’t that hard for the native Poles, but remember every -r- is rolled in Polish!
Wyrewolwerowany rewolwerowiec. (The out revolved revolver.)
They may seem superfluous and just a bit of fun, but tongue twisters are actually a great way to push your pronunciation. Remember, these are hard even for native speakers, so if you can crack these, those sibilant sounds (cz, sz, prz, ż etc) that pop up so often in Polish will really start to roll off your tongue in no time!