Accent Reduction Tongue Twisters

Many of our clients at Accent Pros, who are interested in learning accent reduction techniques and how to speak with an American accent, have advanced degrees and have excellent command of the English language. Given the evolving state of the English language; however, they may not understand informal slang and phrases that are regularly used in the workplace, and on various popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Occasionally our accent reduction clients will understand the meaning of an idiom, but use it in an improper context, which could potentially have embarrassing consequences. In our continuing efforts to  feature only the most relevant and practical terms when helping you achieve accent reduction goals, here are three tongue twisters to hone your pronunciation.   

Accent Reduction Tongue Twister 1 – He Trusts his Fists Against the posts and Still Insists he Sees the Ghosts

Definition: This tongue twister is often utilized by Speech/Language Pathologists or SLPs in their therapy sessions. It is especially good for people who have lisps or tend to stutter. The reason it is so effective is that it is has to be said in slow and deliberate repetitions which then cause a corrective alignment of the lips, tongue, and mouth. A person undergoing this kind of therapy learns to articulate, therefore the confidence is built and the speech problem diminishes.

accent reduction Example: “He trusts his fists against the post and still insists he sees the ghosts.” (Repeat as many times as needed.)

Origin: This is a fascinating tongue twister that has fairly modern roots especially when compared to others that were created hundreds of years prior. In Donovan’s Brain, a novel written by Curt Siodmak in 1942, a disembodied brain gains telepathic powers and works to control the world. The victim uses this tongue twister to thwart the brain and its commands.


Accent Reduction Tongue Twister 2: Mary Mac’s Mother’s Making Mary Mac Marry Me

Definition: This tongue twister is often used to train people in accent reduction to pronounce their “a”, “o” and “u” sounds.  It is also a good practice for people who have a lisp.

Example: “Mary Mac’s mother’s making Mary Mac marry me.My mother’s making me marry Mary Mac. Will I always be so merry when Mary’s taking care of me? Will I always be so merry when I marry Mary Mac?”

Origin: Like some other tongue twisters, this one has very colorful roots. It didn’t start out as a tongue twister but a song. It is an old Scottish folk song (also called “Patter Song”) and is often sung rapidly—it often gets faster as singers reach the end verses. The original song mentions that the father of Mary Mac that is forcing the marriage but it has been changed to “mother” to suit the times. It is a fairly long song but this verse became a world-renowned tongue twister. accent reduction


Tongue Twister 3: Picky People Pick Peter Pan Peanut Butter

Definition: This tongue twister is very useful for people in accent reduction who want to perfect their “e” and “i” sounds. Like other tongue twisters, it is meant to be recited as quickly as possible and with few errors. However, accent reduction learners can start at a lower speed and work their way from there.

peanut butterExample: “Picky people pick Peter Pan Peanut-Butter, ’tis the peanut-butter picky people pick!”

Definition: This tongue twister didn’t start out as a tongue twister per se. It was part of a commercial broadcasted by the makers of Peter Pan Peanut Butter as part of their campaign that ran from 1971 to 1981.  The idea behind the tongue twister was to get people talking and judging by how often this tongue twister is used. It could be said that the makers of the product got what they wanted.

Accent Reduction: Want to Learn More?

Accent Pros has a continuing series on accent reduction tips, including common English phrases and American idioms.  Be sure to check out other blog posts to find your favorites.  Ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or a free accent screening?  Check out our on-line accent reduction courses  available to students with accent reduction goals all over the world. For consistent access to our idioms series and other accent reduction tips. Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter