Tas de riz, tas de rats.
Tas de riz tentant, tas de rats tentés.
Tas de riz tentant tenta tas de rats tentés.
Tas de rats tentés tâta tas de riz tentant.
tahd ree, tahd rah.
tahd ree tah-tah, tahd rah tah-tay.
tahd ree tah-tah tah-tah tahd rah tah-tay.
tahd-rah tah-tay tah-tah tahd ree tah-tah. Click below to hear this.*
Heap of rice, heap of rats.
Heap of tempting rice, heap of tempted rats.
Heap of tempting rice tempted heap of tempted rats.
Heap of tempted rats pawed heap of tempting rice.
Don’t worry, it’s just another tonguetwister. No need to call the exterminator, nor the health department.
What makes this tonguetwister so much fun? It’s all the identical and similar sounds: the ten and tan spellings are pronounced exactly the same. And then there are all those /a/ sounds: ta, tas, and tâ are all the same sound, which rhymes with rat.
In case you don’t recognize the tense of the verb in lines 3 and 4 (tenta and tâta), that’s the passé simple, also known as the passé historique and the passé littéraire. It hasn’t been part of everyday spoken French for over 100 years, but it still shows up in books, proverbs, folk songs, and the like. Just treat it like a plain old past tense.
Now see if you can say this tonguetwister without stumbling!
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: