Tongue Twisters for Voice Actors

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tongue twister

Remember the childhood fun of struggling through ‘red lorry, yellow lorry’ and other tongue twisters? Well, tongue twisters for voice actors are just as fun, but more importantly they improve articulation by coordinating your facial muscles, lips, and your breath.

The key to doing tongue twisters properly is to start slowly. Gradually speed them up, until you can do them perfectly and fast, three times in a row.

Tongue Twisters Video

The video titled Vocal exercise – Speaking #3: Tongue twisters part 1 from the Wellcome Collection YouTube channel demonstrates a number of useful tongue twisters for voice actors and anyone who wants to exercise their brain and improve their articulation.

Start gently with a three word tongue twister:

Purple Paper People

Repeating the phrase Purple Paper People is good exercise for both lips, known as bilabial sounds.

Say the phrase slowly once, then again, then say Purple Paper People quickly three times in a row.

Then move on to the next tongue twister:

Red Leather Yellow Leather

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

Red Welly Yellow Welly

Putting the three phrases Red Leather Yellow Leather, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and Red Welly Yellow Welly together creates good exercise for a complex combination of the following parts of the mouth:

Post-alveolar consonants

Postalveolar or post-alveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge. That’s farther back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself but not as far back as the hard palate.

Lateral consonants

A lateral is a consonant in which the airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but it is the tongue blocks it from going through the middle of the mouth. 

L, for lateral, is a lateral consonant.

Labial consonants

Some labial consonants need partial or complete closure of the lips. Examples include the letters p, b, f, v, m, and w.

Other labial consonants need rounded lips. An example is the oo sound in the middle of the word moon. 

Palatal consonants

Palatal consonants are articulated with the middle part of the tongue raised against the hard, central roof of the mouth, an area known as the palate. 

Now for the next tongue twister:

Shy Sheena Church

cautiously shushed brash chatty Sean Bishop

during the speech on Religious Friction

The difficult tongue twister targets the post-alveolar fricatives (shhh) and affricates (tshhh).

Practice these tongue twisters against the clock!

If you play the video above, it introduces a timer for each tongue twister. By the time you make it to the third and final exercise, saying the words clearly and fast enough is very challenging. Have a go!

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Thanks to mister b 1138 for use of the tongue twister dog photo above, provided under CC BY 2.0 license.