Word cloud made of tongue twister wordsA team of MIT researchers has developed the toughest tongue twister in the world, which may help better understand the brain, according to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Pad kid poured curd pulled cod” is the phrase to say 10 times fast, and according to an MIT researcher, it is so difficult that none of the test subjects in a US speech study could repeat it, while some just stopped talking completely.

The string of nonsense was created to investigate errors of speech and to shed light on the brain’s speech-planning processes, says Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel ’75, of MIT’s Research Lab of Electronics, adding that tongue twisters can teach us a lot about normal brain functions.

Listen: Stefanie Stattuck-Hufnagel discusses her research on “Science Friday”.

“If anyone can say this (phrase) 10 times quickly, they get a prize,” said Shattuck-Hufnagel, who presented the tricky phrase along with her research into “alternating repetitive tongue twisters” at the 166th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in San Francisco last week.

The team recorded volunteers speaking word combinations in two categories: simple lists of words, like “top cop” and full sentences of the same sounds with words inverted, like “the top cop saw a cop top.”

In the first group, they discovered the bulk of errors were where the “t” and “c” arrived nearly at the same time, coming out “tkop”. But the latter induced more errors where there was a delay between the two letters, with space for a vowel: “tah-kop.” That both kinds of errors occur for word lists and sentences suggests there is some overlap between the brain processes used to produce these two types of speech, Shattuck-Hufnagel says.

People have long been aware that some combination of sounds spoken too fast flubs the tongue.

Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?

Read the full article at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution


  1. Electromite

    My attempts to repeat the tongue twister: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEw_ecu5J7E

  2. sirald66

    Somebody misspelled the twister and hundreds of news outlets (including major ones) have printed the last word as COLD rather than COD.

  3. Dick Swenson

    Nonsense. This is much harder and shorter

    “Peggy Babcock.”

  4. Daniel Kehoe

    I suck at tongue twisters but this one was easy.  I said it at least 30 times with no problem,  on my first try.

  5. Carmen

    I got it 20 times without mistakes where i get my premium 

Share your thoughts

Thank you for your comments and for your role in creating a safe and dynamic online environment. MIT Spectrum reserves the right to remove any content that is deemed, in our sole view, commercial, harmful, or otherwise inappropriate.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *