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Senior Moments: Totally tantalizing tongue twisters

Emma Edwards
By Emma Edwards, Thursday, June 6, 2019

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,

Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

This tongue twister has been around since the early 1800s and I’m just about positive it’s familiar to most of us seniors. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, it was a tool used to help with pronunciation lessons.

Here’s another:

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood
As a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Speech therapy can be helpful for people of all ages, but for seniors, it’s often used after we’ve suffered a transient ischemic attack or TIA, often called a mini-stroke. A TIA is really a major warning. A TIA causes a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain.

After a major stroke, speech therapy is usually recommended too. Over the years, tongue twisters have proven to be an asset in many cases.

Practicing with tongue twisters, I am told, benefits public speakers, training them to speak more clearly. Those learning our language can benefit too.

“Tongue twisters ensure that the students (young or old) articulate the syllables and don’t slur the sounds together,” according to an article on speech therapy. “Also, if the student has difficulty with the ‘p’ or ‘b’ sounds (for instance), the therapist will have the student practice tongue twisters that focus on these sounds, such as ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.’ ”

Or, the Arkansas saw that can be used to work on the “s” sound:

When I was in Arkansas, I saw a saw 
that could outsaw any other saw I ever saw saw. 
If you’ve got a saw that can outsaw the saw I saw saw 
then I'd like to see your saw saw.

Those who are hearing impaired need us to talk slower and pronounce words more articulately. Even for those who have hearing aids, talking slower is crucial. Practicing tongue twisters forces us to slow down to catch all the repetitive words and sounds.

You could call this talk about speech therapy an intergenerational experience.

I can’t resist closing with a tongue twister that may have been written by someone at one of our local beaches.

She sells seashells by the seashore.
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

And I just could not resist this one: Picky people pick Peter Pan Peanut Butter, ’tis the peanut butter picky people pick.

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