Transparent Language Blog

Twist Your Tongue in 17 Languages Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Archived Posts

Itchy Feet: Lingua Pravorum

Lots of people have asked me for translations for the tongue twisters in the above comic, so before we continue, here they are, including transliterations so you can twist your tongues yourselves (remember to say them five times fast!):

1. French: Les chaussettes de l’archi-duchesse, sont-elles sèches ou archi-sèches? (The socks of the arch-duchess, are they dry or extra-dry?)

2. Italian: Sopra la panca la capra campa, sotto la panca la capra crepa. (On top of the bench, the goat lives. Under the bench, the goat dies.)

3. Russian: Карл у Клары украл кораллы, а Клара у Карла украла кларнет. Transliteration: “Karl u Klary ukral korally, a Klara u Karla ukrala klarinet.” (Carl stole corals from Clara, and Clara stole a clarinet from Carl.)

4. Portuguese: O rato roeu a rolha da garrafa de rum do rei da Rússia. (The rat nibbled the cork of the bottle of rum of the king of Russia.)

5. Japanese: にわの庭には、二羽の鶏はにわかにわにを食べた. Transliteration: “Niwa no niwa ni wa, niwa no niwatori wa niwaka ni wani o tabeta.” (In Mr. Niwa’s garden, two chickens suddenly ate a crocodile.)

6. Hebrew: !טיאטאת ת’תא? – לא טאטאתי ת’תא, תטאטא אותו אתה Transliteration: “Titita tata? – lo tititi tata, tetate oto ata!” (Did you clean the locker? – I didn’t clean the locker, you clean it!)

7. Korean: 간장공장 공장장은 강 공장장이고, 된장공장 공장장은 공 공장장이다. Transliteration: “kan-jang-kong-jang kong-jang-jang-eun kang kong-jang-jang-ee-go, dwen-jang-kong-jang kong-jang-jang-eun kong kong-jang-jang-ee-da.” (The president of the soy sauce factory is president Kang, and the president of the bean paste factory is president Kong.)

8. Turkish: Kartal kalkar dal sarkar, dal sarkar kartal kalkar. (The eagle takes off, the branch bends; the branch bends, the eagle takes off.)

9. Esperanto: Serpo servu cin por ĉerpo el cerbo de serba cervo. (May a billhook serve thee to scoop out a Serbian deer’s brain.)


I love these. Do you know how hard it was to figure out how to draw that Japanese one? And look at the Korean one – even if you can’t read Hangul, you can totally see it’s a tongue twister just by looking at all those little loops. Plus, that Esperanto one is super gross.

I got tons of feedback on this comic for tongue twisters in other languages, so here are some of my favorites:


  • Polish: Przyszedł Herbst z pstrągami i słuchał oszczerstw z wstrętem przeszukując otwory w strzelnicy. (Herbst came with the trouts and he started to listen to calumnies while repulsively searching through the holes in the firing ground.)
  • Chinese: 四是四,十是十,十四是十四,四十是四十,四十四隻不識字之石獅子是死的. Transliteration: “sì shí sì, shí shì shí, shísì shí shísì, sìshí shí sìshí, sìshísì zhi bùshízǐ zhi shíshīzǐ shì sǐ de.” (4 is 4, 10 is 10, 14 is 14, 40 is 40, 44 illiterate stone lions are dead.)
  • Indonesian: Saya sebal sama situ sebab situ suka senyum-senyum sama suami saya sehingga sekarang suami saya suka senyum-senyum sendiri sembari sama saya. (I hate you because you used to smile at my husband; now he likes to smile for no obvious reason when he is with me.)
  • Finnish: Kokooko Kokko koko kokon kokoon? Kyllä Kokko koko kokon kokoon kokoo! (Will Kokko gather up the whole bonfire? Yes, Kokko will gather up the whole bonfire!)
  • German: Fischers Fritze fischt frische Fische, frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritze. (Fisher’s errand boy is fishing fresh fish, fresh fish are fished by Fisher’s errand boy.)
  • Arabic: أَلَمٌ أَلَمَّ أَلَمْ أُلِمَّ بِدَائِهِ … إِنْ آنَ آنٌ آنَ آنُ أَوَانِهِ Transliteration: “Alamun alamma alam ulimma bida’ih … In aana aanun aana aanu awaanih.” (I’ve got pain, but I don’t know the disease . . . if it hurts me, it should be healed.)
  • Tagalog: Ginago nang gago ang gaga na nagpagago sa gago. (Idiot #1 fooled idiot #2 who let idiot #1 fool himself.)
  • Greenlandic (and my personal favorite): Taskeqakataqaanga. (I’m tired of holding this backpack.)


Got any others for us? Chime in on the comments below, and I’ll add them to the list above!

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About the Author: Malachi Rempen

Malachi Rempen is an American filmmaker, author, photographer, and cartoonist. Born in Switzerland, raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he fled Los Angeles after film school and expatted it in France, Morocco, Italy, and now Berlin, Germany, where he lives with his Italian wife and German cat. "Itchy Feet" is his weekly cartoon chronicle of travel, language learning, and life as an expat.


  1. Flo:

    Un dragon gradé dégradé un gradé dragon.
    “La grosse cloche sonne.” (The big bell chimes) will eventually come out (if repeated fast and for long enough) as “La grosse cochonne” (the big fat sow). My personnal favourite…

  2. Eugene:

    Another Russian one: “Корабли лавировали-лавировали, да не вылавировали” (≈”ships were meneuvring but failed”)

  3. Haplo:

    In Spanish we have a lot! Like “Pablito clavó un clavito, ¡qué clavito clavó Pablito!” (Pablito nailed a nail, what a nail Pablito nailed!”. Or “Tres tristes tigres tragan trigo en un trigal” (Three sad tigers eat wheat in a wheat field).

    • Malachi Rempen:

      @Haplo That just conjures a pitiful image of starving tigers forced to eat raw plants. Now I’m sad

  4. Sanjib:

    A Nepali tongue twister: Kacho Kafal Paanch Pathi, Pakeko Kafal Paanch Pathi

    • Malachi Rempen:

      @Sanjib Great! And what does it mean?

  5. JimW:

    Cvrcak cvrci na cvoru crne smrce.

    In Serbian, a cricket chirps on the knot of a black spruce.

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