MIT Researchers Create 'World's Toughest Tongue Twister'

While studying speech patterns, MIT researchers came up with a tongue twister so difficult that participants struggled to repeat it.
Posted at 3:05 PM, Dec 05, 2013

Move over, Peter Piper and your peck of pickled peppers. MIT researchers have come up with the world's toughest tongue twister.

"It's 'pad kid poured curd pulled cold.' I don't know what it means, but researchers at MIT asked people to repeat this phrase 10 times. Most people clammed up and stopped talking altogether."

So it's official — kind of. Here's Time magazine: "Is this an exact science? No. (Or like, maybe. But yeah, probably not.)"

But really, what went into choosing that lovely little phrase? Fox News reports: "A nonsense string of words devised by MIT researchers investigating speech errors and brain functions proved so difficult that no test subjects could repeat the phrase — clearly marking it as the world's toughest tongue twister."

The Daily Mail reports that anyone who could say it 10 times in a row would go home with a prize. Needless to say, that didn't happen.

But as the lead researcher told the BBC, that wasn't the point of the study. They were looking for differences between jumbled-up lists and actual sentences and the mistakes people make with those two types of speech.

"What we were trying to figure out was if it makes a difference in the types of errors that you make. … We found that there were error differences."

The study's press release notes that studying sound-related slip-ups can give researchers a peek into the brain's speech-planning process.

Researchers will continue to look into specifically how the brain plans speech, but in the meantime, Sally can sell seashells by the sea shore all she wants, but there's a new tongue twister in town.