Posted by: episystechpubs | August 10, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Tongue Twisters

I received an interesting article the other day about tongue twisters. My dad used to tell us some whoppers when we were kids. I can’t remember which one it was, but there was one that would make us swear if we messed up; of course, that was our favorite. This Mental Floss article from our coworker Paul F. includes many of the standards and two that were completely new to me. The whole article is here: Mental Floss. The two tongue twisters I picked out, “Betty Botter” and “Two Tooters” (plus a little history) are below. Enjoy!

BETTY BOTTER

Betty Botter bought some butter;
"But," said she, "this butter’s bitter!
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit o’ better butter
Will but make my batter better."
Then she bought a bit o’ butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit o’ better butter.

TWO TOOTERS

A tutor who tooted the flute
Tried to teach two young tooters to toot.
Said the two to the tutor,
"Is it harder to toot, or
To tutor two tooters to toot?"

Both these classic twisters can be traced to poet and novelist Carolyn Wells’s writings in the late 1890s. Betty Botter would go on to be included in Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes and both verses can be found in several variations. While we don’t know who or what exactly sparked the characters of Betty or the tutor, we do know Wells was pretty prolific in terms of her writing. Her 1902 book A Nonsense Anthology—another volume of silly linguistic gymnastics—would be her most famous, but she was also behind more than 100 other books, including mysteries and children’s stories. As if her written contributions to the American language weren’t enough, Wells was also known for donating her epic collection of Walt Whitman manuscripts and first editions to the Library of Congress.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services


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