Addled Tangles of Sanguine Language - an Eclectic Syncretic Syntactic Taxonomy

Benjamin Wells
Bridges Donostia: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2007)
Pages 151–160


The title’s “intricate confusion of cheerful utterance” refers to tongue twisters, a type of word game present in most languages. Traditionally, they have played roles in securing cultures, embarrassing friends and strangers, and amusing us. They also have practical uses in speech therapy, language training, elocution, and psychology. At first glance, they may appear to be language-specific, but deeper study reveals similarities across many unrelated languages. This article begins an investigation of analyzing patterns, formalizing their structure, and extracting algorithms for generating novel tongue twisters. Extensions and applications include optical and aural illusions, sonic languages, quasiperiodic structures, finger fumblers, earworms, memes, and modern dance. A goal is the specification of a tongue-twister-prone constructed language.