Chinese tongue twister

Tongue twisters are always a very effective and funny way to improve one’s pronunciation.

Since Chinese is a tonal language, this adds another difficulty to the tongue twisters, because they also play around with in the tones while pronunciation eventually stays the same. Here is a popular and quite difficult example:

青青山上一根藤,
qīng qīng shān shàng yī gēn téng,

青藤底下挂铜铃,
qīng téng de xià guà tóng ling

风吹藤动铜铃动.
fēng chuī téng dòng tóng líng dòng

Literal meaning: On a green mountain grows a vine. Under the vine there hangs a copper bell. When the wind blows, the vine moves and so does the bell. When the wind stops, the vine stops and the bell stops too.

The following one is more difficult, let´s try:

吃葡萄不吐葡萄皮,
chī pútao bù tǔ pútao pí,

不吃葡萄倒吐葡萄皮.
bù chī pútao dáo tǔ pútao pí.

Literal meaning: When you are eating grapes, don’t spit out the skin. When you are not eating grapes, do spit out the skin.

Not difficult enough? So how about this one?

四是四, 十是十,
sì shí sì, shí shì shí,

十四是十四, 四十是四十,
shísì shí shísì, sìshí shí sìshí,

四十四隻不試字之石獅子是死的.
sìshísì zhi bùshízǐ zhi shíshīzǐ shì sǐ de.

Literal meaning: 4 is 4, 10 is 10, 14 is 14, 40 is 40, 44 illiterate stone lions are dead.

I think that should be enough tongue twisting for today, give your tongue a rest. Practice them more and improve your Chinese pronunciation. This video is of a Chinese learner trying out a tongue-twister. Very funny, enjoy!

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