Italian Tongue-Twisters: How To Speak Better Italian

One of my philosophies in life is the idea that doing things which are difficult makes it easier to do things that aren't. And naturally this can be applied to tasks like learning a foreign language!

Among the hardest things to do in any language we find one of the most fun: saying tongue-twisters. It's something you can do anywhere you go, and it will help you to get past those mouth-bending sounds.

Not only do tongue-twisters help you to practice and strengthen your speaking skills, but they also give you an interesting way to have fun with new friends your new language. Tongue-twisters make people smile, and they remind us of our childhood. It's hard to think of a better icebreaker!

In Italian, a tongue-twister is called scioglilingua, and they've got some hard ones! I've listed a few here. Try them out for yourself as you read them. Then watch the video at the bottom to see an Italian doing one!

Sopra la panca la capra campa, sotto la panca la capra crepa.
On the top of the bench, the goat lives, below the bench, the goat dies.

Dietro il palazzo c'è un povero cane pazzo. Date un tozzo di pane a quel povero pazzo cane.
Behind the building there's a poor mad dog. Give a piece of bread to that poor mad dog.

There's also the variation...

Sotto il palazzo c'e' un cane pazzo; te' pazzo cane sto pezzo di pane.
Under the building there is a crazy dog; here, crazy dog, a piece of bread.

Un pezzo di pizza che puzza nel pozzo del pazzo di pezza.
A piece of pizza that stinks in the well of the ragged fool.

Tre tigri contro tre tigri, tre tigri contro tre tigri ...
Three tigers against three tigers ... (repeat ad nauseam)

Per te il prete perse trenta denti dentro un antro.
For you the priest lost thirty teeth inside a cave.

Trentatrè trentini entrarono in Trento tutti e trentatrè trotterellando.
Thirty-three Trentans enter all together into Trento and thirty-three trotting along.

Apelle, figlio di Apollo, fece una palla di pelle di pollo. Tutti i pesci vennero a galla, per vedere la palla di pelle di pollo fatta da Apelle, figlio di Apollo.
Apelle, son of Apollo, made a ball out of chicken skin. All the fishes came to the surface to see the ball made of chicken skin by Apelle, son of Apollo.


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Author: Yearlyglot
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  • These are great--I never considered practising Italian through tongue-twisters before. Thanks for posting these! Where did you find them?

  • Like most things, I found them on Google.

  • I have had lots of fun with Chinese tongues twister :)Actually you have a slight advantage over native speakers as some tongue twisters are harder for them because of the things they do automatically without thinking (the tongue twister often works against them in those cases), that just adds to fun of course.

  • Chris is right, tongue twisters are really fun in Chinese!

  • Ahhh, the one for Spanish that everyone knows which is taught to young children (and gringos learning the language) to help them learn to properly roll their 'R's is this one:

    Erre con Erre Cigarro
    Erre con Erre Barril
    Rápido corre el carro
    Repleto do ferro en el ferrocarril

    Which translates to:
    "R with R" cigar
    "R with R" barrel
    Quickly run the cars,
    Over the rails of the railroad.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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