In this blogposting
* Birds
* Ineptocracy
* Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry
Continue at your own, not inconsiderable, risk…

Just for the sheer pleasure of it, I’ve plastered this posting with pictures of some of my favourite everyday common-or-garden birds.  I’ve had a lot of pleasure recently watching many of them come to my garden here in deepest urban Newcastle.

If you’re feeding the birds, you may well have seen and enjoyed them too.

From the top down, they are:  a chaffinch, a great tit, a blue tit, a blackbird, a dunnock (hedge-sparrow), a goldfinch, a greenfinch, a bullfinch, a house sparrow, a coal tit and a wren. 

Dave Shannon recently sent me an email which I am more than happy to pass on to you.  He says he has discovered a brand new word...

‘Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) n -
a system of government where those least capable of leading are elected by the least capable of producing; and where those least likely to sustain themselves or succeed are rewarded with goods and services paid for with the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.’

Finally, says Dave, a word to describe our current political situation.

And I’m inclined to agree with him.

Martin from Houghton-le-Spring has also emailed me recently, after a very long gap.  He says…

‘Ian….with your love of words and language, I’m amazed that you haven’t touched upon the subject of Tongue Twisters on your blog.  In fact, I don’t remember you mentioning them on the radio, either.  Maybe you just didn’t want to embarrass yourself by making a mess of them!

(I think Martin’s right.  I don’t think we were ever tempted into the tender trap of tongue-twisters on the Blue Bus programme and I’ve certainly not mentioned them before on this blog.  Martin goes on...) 

Anyway, here are some of my favourites.  If you put them on the blog, maybe your readers will come up with some more.’

What follows is a veritable cornucopia of mouth-fumbling challenges, many of which are verbal obscenities waiting to happen - depending on how good at tongue-twisters you are.  Try these for size…

Send toast to ten tense stout saints' ten tall tents.

Seth at Sainsbury's sells thick socks.

She sits in her slip and sips Schlitz
( - be very careful with that one)

She stood on the balcony, inexplicably mimicking him hiccuping, and amicably welcoming him in.
(This is a version of a tongue-twister I actually do remember trying out on live radio: 
She stood at the door of Burgess's fish-sauce shop welcoming him in.
I think I managed it eventually - making a complete arse of myself in the process, though.)

Shep Schwab shopped at Scott's Schnapps shop;
One shot of Scott's Schnapps stopped Schwab's watch.

(Apparently, this one actually won a tongue-twister setting prize in 1979!)
To begin to toboggan,
First buy a toboggan
But don't buy too big a toboggan.
Too big a toboggan’s
Too big a toboggan
To buy to begin to toboggan.

I must have been in a particularly light-headed mood when I read Martin’e email because, by the time I’d got this far, I was roaring with laughter.

But it didn’t stop there.  Martin then warms to his subject and drifts off into very well-researched tongue-twister poetry, of whose existence I had previously been unaware.

There’s something eerily stirring about…
Amidst the mists and coldest frosts,
With stoutest wrists and loudest boasts,
He beats his fists against the posts
And still insists he sees the ghosts.

Martin says it was used by actors as a speech-clarity warm-up before they went on stage.  Here’s another, even more bizarre, example…

Give me the gift of a grip-top sock,
A clip drape shipshape tip top sock.
Not your spinslick slapstick slipshod stock,
But a plastic, elastic grip-top sock.
None of your fantastic slack swap slop
From a slap dash flash cash haberdash shop.
Not a knick knack knitlock knockneed knickerbocker sock
With a mock-shot blob-mottled trick-ticker top clock.
Not a supersheet seersucker rucksack sock,
Not a spot-speckled frog-freckled cheap sheik's sock
Off a hodge-podge moss-blotched scotch-botched block.
Nothing slipshod drip drop flip flop or glip glop
Tip me to a tip top grip top sock.

If you can manage to say that at normal speaking speed without stumbling, you deserve an award of some kind.

I’m delighted to say that Martin then mentions the well-known tongue-twister song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.  (I’ve loved G&S since I was a teenager and know this song off by heart!)

To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!
To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!
A dull, dark dock, a life-long lock,
A short, sharp shock, a big black block!
To sit in solemn silence in a pestilential prison,
And awaiting the sensation
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!

(This is where Gilbert invented the now well-worn phrase short, sharp shock.)

In a final flourish, Martin quotes in full a tongue-twister poem written by an anonymous group of computer-programming students.

Here's an easy game to play
Here's an easy thing to say:

If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,

And the bus is interrupted as a very last resort
And the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort
Then the socket packet pocket has an error to report!
If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash

And the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash
And your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash
Then your situation's hopeless, and your system's gonna crash!

You can't say this? What a shame, sir!

We'll find you another game, sir.

If the label on the cable on the table at your house

Says the network is connected to the button on your mouse
But your packets want to tunnel on another protocol
That's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall
And your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss
So your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse
Then you may as well reboot and go out with a bang

'Cause as sure as I'm a poet, the sucker's gonna hang!
When the copy of your floppy's getting sloppy on the disk

And the microcode instructions cause unnecessary risk
Then you have to flash your memory and you'll want to ram your rom.
Quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your mom!

Isn’t that awesome!

By the time I got this far, I was shamelessly guffawing like a drain and waking the neighbours, one of whom was foolish enough to wonder aloud if foreign languages had tongue-twisters.

We agreed that they must have; and after thorough, wine-fuelled, research we offer, as our codicil to Martin’s splendid email, these pearls from across the sea…

From German…
Zehn zahme Ziegen zogen zehn Zentner Zucker zum Zoo
(Ten tame goats pulled ten zentner of sugar to the zoo) and
Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid
(Red cabbage stays red cabbage and a bridal dress stays a bridal dress)

From Turkish…
Şu yoğurdu sarımsaklasak da mı saklasak, sarımsaklamasak da mı saklasak?
(Should we add garlic in that yogurt and keep it then, or should we not add garlic and keep it?)

From Swedish (these are two of my favourites)…
Packa pappas kappsäck
(Pack your father's knapsack) and
Kvistfritt kvastskaft
(a knot-free broomstick)

And finally, from the language I’m grappling with at the moment - French - we found…
Tata, ta tarte tatin tenta Tonton; Tonton tâta ta tarte tatin, Tata
(Aunty, your apple tart tempts Uncle; Uncle has touched your apple tart, Aunty.)
Les chaussettes de l'archi-duchesse, sont-elles sèches ou archi-sèches?
(The socks of the duchess, are they dry or extra-dry?) and
Si six scies scient six cyprès, six cents six scies scient six cent six cyprès
(If six saws saw six Cypress trees, six hundred and six saws would saw six hundred and six Cypress trees.)
Just in case you are even remotely interested, that last one is pronounced: Si si si si si sipruh, si saw si si si si saw si sipruh.

A VERY big Thankyou to Martin for giving me such a light-hearted and laughter-filled evening.

Martin also suggested that we might have a tongue-twister competition at the next AGM.  So I’ll add it to the two other items we haven’t tried yet - planking (postings 304, 305) and dancing the tango (posting 345).

It should be quite an AGM…

Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

just read an article on the Northumberland Poet Joseph Skipsey, born in Percy Main in 1832 . He had won national regognition for his poem on the Hartley pit disaster and went on to be Custodian of Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford. He is largely an unknown Poet until now and so I hope all Truckshunters read about him at http://poemhunter.com/joseph skipsey/ .He published a number of books including "Carols from the Coalfields." He was also assistant librarian to the Literary and Philosophical Society . He died at Harraton on the river Wear in 1903. dave shannon