The Telephone Game


The Telephone Game is played all around the world.

To play, a group of children sit in a circle. The first child whispers something into the ear of the person next to him. That person in turn whispers the same sentence into the ear of the person next to her and so on around the circle. Once the phrase gets to the last person, that person says it out loud. Then the original person who said it tells what they originally said. The fun in this game lies in seeing how the sentence changes after being whispered from person to person.

It also shows how unreliable word of mouth can be.

According to Wikipedia, along with the name “Chinese Whispers”, “…it is also known under various other names depending on locality, such as Russian scandal, whisper down the lanebroken telephoneoperatorgrapevinegossipdon’t drink the milksecret messagethe messenger game, and pass the message among others. In France, it is called téléphone arabe (Arabic telephone) or – more politically correct –téléphone sans fil (wireless telephone). In Malaysia, this game is commonly referred to as telefon rosak, which translates to broken telephone.”

What do you call the Telephone Game in your country?


Photo: Two Girls, Tigray (Ethiopia) by Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia, cc.

This article was posted on Monday, October 2nd, 2017 at 6:41 pm and is filed under Canada, Countries & Cultures, France, Games Around the World, Malaysia, Mama Lisa, Telephone Game, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Responses to “The Telephone Game”

  1. Barbara M Says:

    I’m from Belfast Northern Ireland and we called it Chinese Whispers and played it at birthday parties in the 1970s. I live in the US now and have to say “Telephone” now, which is more politically correct.

  2. Lisa Says:

    Telephone is what we’ve always called it in the US. It seems that “Chinese Whispers” is the name it’s called in the Commonwealth.

  3. Says:

    The game has no winner: the entertainment comes from comparing the original and final messages. Intermediate messages may also be compared; some messages will become unrecognizable after only a few steps.

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