Published on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 00:00
Tongue twisters are fun and it is hilarious to hear your friend stumble over the phrase “Sally sold seashells by the seashore”. Now, there's a new tongue twister out there created by MIT researchers, “pad kid poured curd pulled cord”, that has test subjects tripping over trying to spit it out so much that psychologists believe it could be the toughest one out there to date.
“If anyone can say this [phrase] ten times quickly, they get a prize,” said Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, a psychologist from MIT who specializes in speech errors as a way of understanding normal brain functions, and one of the creators of the mouth-boggling phrase.
The MIT researchers who came up with the twisty tongue twister recorded volunteers saying combinations of alternating words that fell into two categories: simple list of words, such as “top cop” for example, and full-sentences of the same sounds with an inversion, such as “the top cop saw a cop top”. After listening and studying the recordings, the analysts found that there were patterns in the slip-ups when volunteers tried to annunciate certain strings of similar sounding words. Based on those findings, they tried to induce different types of double onsets, commonly referred to as double sound mistakes by linguists.
“When things go wrong [when speaking], that can tell you something about how the typical, error-free operation should go,” Shattuck-Hufnagel said.
When they created the combination of words in the phrase “pad kid poured curd pulled cod,” it was so difficult, that participants either couldn’t repeat it, or simply stopped trying altogether.
Because errors occurred for both categories they tested, researchers believe there could be an underlying connection between how the brain takes in the information, and then spits it out of a person’s mouth. “You can get both kinds of errors in both kinds of planning,” she said.