French Tongue Twister & Trompe-Oreilles – Tonton le thé

tea cup

Are you a fan of tongue twisters?  Here’s a well-known French one that is also an example of "trompe-oreilles":

Tonton, le thé de ta tatie t’a-t-il oté ta toux ?
-Oui, le thé de ma tatie m’a oté ma toux !

"Uncle, did your auntie’s tea get rid of your cough?"
"Yes, my auntie’s tea got rid of my cough."

Listen to a recording of Tonton le thé…

Listen to a slow and fast version of "Tonton le thé…" here.

Monique wrote about it from France:

"Now I must say that when we said it as children, it wasn’t a tongue twister like:

"Les chaussettes de l’archi-duchesse sont-elles sèches ou archi-sèches?"
(The socks of the archduchess, are they dry or ultra-dry?)

"Tonton le thé…" was some sort of mysterious sentence you had to say as fast as you could so that the other kids couldn’t split it up into words. This type of tongue twister is called a ‘trompe-oreilles’ in French.  It can almost sound like a foreign language or give the impression you’re saying something different from what you’re really saying. 

The hope as a kid was that the others couldn’t split it up into words and understand it. You could feel so much smarter… till they got it!"

I don’t think we have an equivalent to trompe-oreilles in English.  We just say tongue twister.  Can anyone else out there think of an English term for it?

Thanks for sharing with us Monique!

Mama Lisa

Monique Palomares works with us on the French and Spanish versions of Mama Lisa’s World.

This article was posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 at 8:50 pm and is filed under Belgium, Canada, Countries & Cultures, France, French, Languages, Rhymes by Theme, Tongue Twisters, Trompe-oreilles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “French Tongue Twister & Trompe-Oreilles – Tonton le thé”

  1. Tinker Jack Says:

    Hello MlW!

    Hungarian term for tongue-twister is: ” nyelvtörő” which means ” tongue- breaker”. So, I ‘d propose the term “ear-breaker” for “trompe-oreilles”.

  2. Lisa Says:

    I like “ear-breaker” Jack!

    Monique also proposed: “ear-tricker to use the same pattern of “tongue twister”.

  3. Thomas Johnson Says:

    Here’s another one from my friend in Switzerland:

    Combien sont ces six saucissons-ci? Ces six saucissons-ci sont six sous. Si ces six saucissons-ci sont six sous, ces six saucissons-ci sont pas chers !

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