Tongue Twisters: Improving Your Fluency in Spanish
written by: KellenKautzman
• edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch
• updated: 1/17/2012
Do you want to test your Spanish pronunciation skills? Let's start with some Spanish tongue twisters or "trabalenguas."
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Here's a different but funny way to practice Spanish, not just from a pronunciation point of view but also as a great way to learn new Spanish vocabulary. You will notice some words in the tongue twisters below are not in the dictionary. This is because some of them have been adapted to fit the metric or rhythm of the tongue twister.
These are the cases of diminutives, augmentatives, or compound words. And, you will also find words practically 'invented' with the simple purpose of creating a very, very complicated tongue twister, even for Spanish speakers!
As you may already know, the Spanish term for "tongue twister" is "trabalenguas": "traba" from the verb "trabar" (to jam, to block) and the noun "lenguas," plural of "lengua" (tongue).
You can find a couple examples below. First, read them slowly, and, when you are familiar with the words, try to read them faster and faster!
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Nuestro primer trabalenguas (Our first tongue twister)
Problems with the Spanish “r" pronunciation? Maybe the first time your read the following tongue twister you'll think it is very difficult, but don't give up, as this is a very good and helpful exercise to learn to pronounce Spanish “r". It is a just a question of perseverance.
El perro de Roque no tiene rabo, porque Ramón Ramírez se lo ha robado.
perro is “dog".
Roque is a proper name.
rabo means “tail".
Ramón Ramirez are two proper names.
So, the translation of this tongue twister is:
“Roque's dog has not a tail, because Ramón Ramírez has stolen it (the tale) (to him)"
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Nuestro segundo trabalenguas (Our second tongue twister)
And what about this challenging tongue twister? It is very complicated, even for native Spanish speakers:
El cielo está enladrillado.
¿quién lo desenladrillará?
El desenladrillador que lo desenladrille,
buen desenladrillador será.
The first things we need to know here is the meaning of “ladrillo" (brick) and the verb “enladrillar" (to pave).
Notice also the use of the prefix “des-", meaning “to undo something".
“The sky is paved,
Who is going to “unpave" it?
The “unpaver" who “unpaves" it,
a good “unpaver" will (he/she) be."
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Working on Pronunciation
Remember that pronunciation skills take a while to develop. Don't beat yourself up over not being able to master these in one sitting. You are going to have to practice, perhaps for months, until you can impress your friends and native Spanish speakers with your ability to pronounce trabalenguas with the best of them! Keep your spirits up and you will achieve your goal of native Spanish speaking pronunciation.