Saturday, December 6, 2008

Chinese Torture...

...No, Only A Tongue Twister!

“Tongue Twisters are phrases or sentences which are hard to speak fast, usually because of alliteration or a sequence of nearly similar sounds”.

Well almost every word has a nearly similar sound in Chinese! (There are approximately 1,700 possible syllables in Mandarin, which compares with over 8,000 in English. As a result, there are many homophones - syllables which sound the same but mean different things)

sì shì sì. shí shì shí. shísì shì shísì. sìshí shì sìshí.
(Four is four. Ten is ten. Fourteen is fourteen. Forty is forty)

妈妈骑马, 马慢, 妈妈骂马。
māma qí mǎ, mǎ màn, māma mà mǎ.
(Mom ride a horse, the horse is slow, mom insult the horse)

sìshísì zhī sǐ shīzi
(44 solitary dead lions)

Like any tongue twister it doesn’t translate well!

Now repeat after me:

The sixth sick sheikh's sixth sheep's sick.

"She sells sea shells":
Sister Sue sells sea shells.
She sells sea shells on shore.
The shells she sells.
Are sea shells she sees.
Sure she sees shells she sells.

And did you know that the sign language equivalent of a tongue twister is called a finger fumbler. The phrase “Good blood, bad blood” is a tongue-twister in English as well as a finger-fumbler in ASL.