Have you ever heard a Chinese tongue twister? You may have but not even realized it. A tongue twister is a type of oral literature, which is a unique form of language art in Chinese folk literature. It can help people exercise eloquence, correct pronunciation, as well as improve their Chinese speaking ability.
Upon first hearing one it can seem intimidating! But practicing Chinese tongue twisters is an interesting and effective way to learn Chinese. Not only is it challenging but it can be fun! It is especially entertaining when it is made into a friendly competition. Feel free to record yourself giving your best effort reading one of the Chinese tongue twisters and send it to us. You might be selected to be featured on our social media channels!
Here are two excerpts from the tongue twister.
The first tongue twister will certainly have you pronouncing “猫 (māo)”, “帽 (mào)” and “庙 (miào)” with precision. It also will help you with the pinyin point “-ao”. Give it a try!
#1. 白庙和白猫 (Bái miào hé bái māo) White Temple And White Cat
Bái miào wài dūn yì zhī bái māo,
A white cat is crouched out of the white temple,
Bái miào lǐ yǒu yì dǐng bái mào.
There is a white hat in the white temple.
Bái miào wài de bái māo kànjiàn le bái mào,
The white cat outside the white temple saw the white hat,
Diāo zhe bái miào lǐ de bái mào, pǎo chū le bái miào.
Which ran out of the white temple, carrying with the white hat of the white temple.
-ao (the common pinyin containing)
猫 (Māo) cat
帽 (Mào) (often paired with 子 (zǐ)，hence “帽子 (màozi) hat”)
庙 (Miào) (often follows “寺 (sì),”hence “寺庙 (sìmiào) temple”)
Once you’ve had enough of white cats and temples move on to counting cows. This tongue twister is even more challenging and will surely test your tones even further. This tongue twister will also help you get familiarized with the pinyin points “-iu” and “-ou”.
#2 六十六头牛 (Liù shí liù tóu niú) Sixty-six Cows
Liù shí liù suì de lù lǎotóu,
A sixty-six-year-old Old Lu,
Gài le liù shí liù jiān lóu,
built sixty-six buildings,
Mǎi le liù shí liù lǒu yóu,
bought sixty-six baskets of oil,
Yǎng le liù shí liù tóu niú,
raised sixty-six cows,
Zāi le liù shí liù kē chuí yángliǔ.
planted sixty-six willows.
Liù shí liù lǒu yóu, duī zài liù shí liù jiān lóu;
sixty-six baskets of oil were piled in sixty-six buildings;
Liù shí liù tóu niú, kòu zài liù shí liù kē chuí yángliǔ.
sixty-six cows, were roped up for sixty-six willows.
-iu (the common pinyin containing)
六 (Liù) six
牛 (Niú) cattle; ox; a surname; bossy; moo-cow
柳 (Liǔ) willow; Liu, one of the lunar mansions; a surname
-ou (the common pinyin containing)
头 (Tóu) head; hair or hair style; top; tip
楼 (Lóu) a storied building; floor; storey; superstructure
油 (Yóu) oil; fat; grease
Which one is your favorite? If you think you did well, show us! We would love to see your hard work. Send us a recording of your favorite tongue twister and you could be featured next. This Chinese input method can make you enjoy pronunciation practice with Chinese tongue twisters.
Are you ready? Take the quiz to evaluate your tone and character comprehension now!
1. Which pronunciation of the following Chinese characters contains the pinyin “-iù?”
2. Choose the recording that has accurate spoken Chinese.