LINGUIST List 2.269

Sunday, 2 June 1991

Disc: Tongue Twisters

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. mark l louden, German Tongue Twisters
  2. Hurch, tongue twisters, re: morse-gagne
  3. "Stephan Busemann", German Tongue Twisters

Message 1: German Tongue Twisters

Date: Thu, 30 May 91 10:03:14 -0500
From: mark l louden <>
Subject: German Tongue Twisters
A few versions of the German Oberammergau tongue twister have been posted, so
I guess I'll include the one I remember.

Heut' kommt der Hans zu ihr,
Freut sich die Lies;
Ob er ueber oder unter Oberammergau,
Oder ob er aber ueber oder unter Unterammergau,
Oder aber ob er ueberhaupt nicht kommt,
Is' net gewiss

In the third line, the 'ob er' and 'aber' may be switched, I can't remember.
I also remember an alternate version sung by a drunk at the English Garden
in Munich which included lines such as 'ob er aber mit dem ober'n Kiefer kaut'
('whether he chews with the top teeth'). Anybody familiar with this less
twisted rendition?
Best wishes--Mark Louden
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: tongue twisters, re: morse-gagne

Date: 31 May 91 2:55 +0800
From: Hurch <hurch%mvax2.urz.uni-wuppertal.dbp.deRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: tongue twisters, re: morse-gagne
Let me specify the note from Elise Emerson Morse-Gagne:
I know a Upper Bavarian version by the critical "folk" singers Biermoeslblasn
which goes:
Der Russ der kimmt, der Russ der kimmt des is ganz gwiss
Ob er aber ueber Oberammergau
oder ob er aber ueber Unterammergau
oder ob er aber ueberhaupt net kimmt
des is net gwiss.
The Russians will come for sure,
But whether they will come via Oberammergau
or via Unterammergau
or not at all,
that's not sure.
This is an ironical version, and currently the most popular one about the
(non-existing) danger of a Russian invasion in Bavaria. The basic lines
are the traditional ones. And (as a speaker of a Bavarian) I would doubt
 whetherthis is really a tongue twister.
Bernhard Hurch
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: German Tongue Twisters

Date: Fri, 31 May 91 09:45:28 +0200
From: "Stephan Busemann" <busemann%dfki.uni-sb.deRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: German Tongue Twisters
In reaction to Elise Morse-Gagne's mail (Vol. 2 No. 258):

The text you quoted is a German folk song. I remember it as follows:

 Heut' kommt der Hans zu mir,
 freut sich die Lies.
 Ob er aber ueber Oberammergau
 oder aber ueber Unterammergau
 oder aber ueberhaupt nicht kommt,
 ist nicht gewiss.

 today Hans is coming to (see) me
 (which) Lies is glad about
 But if he comes by O.
 or by U.
 or if he doesn't come at all
 isn't certain.

It is not a dialect at all though the villages in question are
Bavarian... I don't take it as a tongue twister, since everything
is easy to pronounce (at least for German native speakers).
In lines 3 to 5, stressed o, a, ue, and au alternate with unstressed e.
However the text contains a garden path, namely "ueber" in "ueberhaupt
nicht" (not at all), which seems to introduce a third route Hans might

For me, the most difficult German tongue-twister has ever been
this (short and silly) one:
 Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid und Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut.
 wedding-dress remains w. and red cabbage remains r. c.

Stephan Busemann

[End Linguist List, Vol. 2, No. 0269]
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue