French tongue twisters

Here is a list of a few tongue twisters that are common in French speaking countries. Some of them are quite famous, as they are sometimes used as a joke among kids, or even by parents or teachers to help improve a child‘s pronunciation. The following list contains the most well-known ones, and their translation in English. They are ranked according to difficulty, so don’t sweat it out if you can’t pronounce the last few ones… It is even sometimes difficult for native French speakers!

  • Tes laitues naissent-elles? Si tes laitues naissent, mes laitues naîtront.
    Are your lettuces sprouting? If your lettuces are sprouting, my lettuces will sprout.
  • Pauvre petit pêcheur, prend patience pour pouvoir prendre plusieurs petits poissons.
    Poor little fisherman, be patient in order to fish several little fish.
  • Tongue twisters are nothing new, they have been around for centuries, and even have a place in history. Take the following one. The saying actually came of origin in the late 18th century, after a measure to build a wall around Paris to help collect customs was passed. This tongue twister, depicting the Parisians’ anger over the situation soon became famous, and later appeared in a book by Victor Hugo:

  • “Le mur murant Paris rend Paris murmurant”
    “The walls around Paris make Paris mutter”
  • Où niche la pie? La pie niche haut. Où niche l’oie? L’oie niche bas. Où niche l’hibou? L’hibou niche ni haut ni bas !
    Where does the magpie nest? The magpie nests high. Where does the goose nest? The goose nests low. Where does the owl nest? The owl neither nests high nor low.
  • Il était une fois, un homme de foi qui vendait du foie dans la ville de Foix. Il dit ma foi, c’est la dernière fois que je vends du foie dans la ville de Foix.
    Once upon a time, there was a man of faith who was selling liver in the town of Foix. He said, my faith, it is the last time I am selling liver in the town of Foix.
  • Les chaussettes de l’archiduchesse sont-elles sèches? Archi-sèches!
    Are the socks of the archduchess dry? Extra dry!
  • Un chasseur sachant chasser sait chasser sans son chien de chasse.
    A hunter who knows how to hunt knows how to hunt without his hunting dog.
  • Un pâtissier qui pâtissait chez un tapissier qui tapissait, dit un jour au tapissier qui tapissait: vaut-il mieux pâtisser chez un tapissier qui tapisse ou tapisser chez un pâtissier qui pâtisse?
    A pastry chef who made pastries at a tapestry maker’s house who papered said one day to the tapestry maker who papered: is it better to make pastries at a tapestry maker’s who papers or to paper at a pastry chef’s who makes pastries.
  • Si six scies scient six cyprès ci-près, six cents scies scient six cents cyprès ci-près.
    If six saws saw six cypresses close to here, six hundred saws saw six hundred cypresses close to here.
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