Tongue Twista

Researchers at MIT Invent the World’s Toughest Tongue Twister

It’s “pad kid poured curd pulled cold.”

Can you say that? How fast? How fast can you say it 10 times? That was the test developed by psychologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to lead researcher Dr. Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, it was this phrase that tripped up test subjects more often than any other.

Tongue twisters are not straightforward. There’s a reason why they confuse the mouth:

At least some of the time, tongue twister mix-ups were not one sound or another, but appeared to be something in between.

In the ‘top cop’ example, sometimes the ‘t’ and ‘c’ seemed to arrive at almost the same time (‘t’kop’) and sometimes there was a delay between the two sounds with space for a vowel (‘tah-kop’).

The scientists studied two categories of tongue twister, simple lists of paired words, such as ‘top cop’ and whole sentences.

They found that in the word list tongue twisters there was a preponderance of ‘t’kop’ type errors. In contrast, sentences produced more ‘tah-kop’ mistakes that included a short vowel after the initial consonant.

Test yourself. How fast can you say “pad kid poured curd pulled cold”?


Key Terms…
  • Toughest ↔ Mais Difícil
  • Tongue Twister ↔ Trava Língua
  • lead researcher ↔ pesquisador-chefe
  • tripped up ↔ travou, falhou
  • straightforward ↔ franco, direto
  • mix-ups ↔ confusões
  • preponderance ↔ predomínio, preponderância
  • mistakes ↔ erros
  • curd ↔ coalhada


Tongue Twister Trava Língua
One good tongue-twister is “rhubarb” – say it 5 times quickly.Another is the classic “she sells sea shells by the sea shore”
tripped up travou, falhou
“trip up” can mean the same as “trip” (tropeçar) but can be used in a more general sense as well.
question six managed to trip most of the candidates up
Mary came in while the speaker was talking and the distraction tripped him up. The noise in the audience tripped up the speaker.
The lawyer used what he knew about her personality to trip her up in court.
I did fine on most of the test, but I tripped up on the last problem.
straightforward franco, direto
Não é tão simples ↔It’ s not that straightforward
Nem sequer compreendo por que precisamos de voltar ao assunto, já que as coisas estão perfeitamente claras. ↔I really do not understand the need to go back over this subject, as the matter is perfectly straightforward.
mix-ups confusões


a confused condition or situation
A new study shows one in 15 children are hurt by medication mix-ups at hospitals.  


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