Russian Tongue Twisters

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Russian Tongue Twisters = Русские скороговорки

Tongue Twisters are not just sayings that are difficult to pronounce quickly. They are also useful language exercises. Besides, these funny phrases are a perfect way to lighten the mood of a Russian lesson or of a party. Practicing a tongue twister, it is important to say it fast articulating clearly all sounds.

The Russian word for “tongue twister” is “скороговорка” [skaragavórka]. It consists of two parts: “скоро” = fast and “говорить” = to speak, to say. So, the literal translation into English would be something like “fast saying”. In Russian, the word “скороговорка” is used only for these specific phrases and doesn’t define everything that is hard to say (like, for example, a single word or a name).

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To practice Russian pronunciation, one should try and say every word of a tongue twister very slowly, syllable by syllable, increasing the speed gradually.

Tongue twisters listed below train the pronunciation of different sounds. Stressed vowels are marked red.

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Белый снег = White snow

Б = [b]

Белый снег, белый мел, белый заяц тоже бел.
А вот белка не бела – белой даже не была.

Translation:
White snow, white chalk, white hare is also white.
But the squirrel isn’t white – it has never been white.

Russian words from the tongue twister:
“белый” = “white” and other colours in Russian
Talking about weather: “снег” = “snow”, etc.
Conjugation of the verb “быть” = “to be”

Жук жужжит = Buzzing Beetle

Ж = [zhe]

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Жук жужжит над абажуром,
Жужжит жужелица,
Жужжит, кружится.

Translation:
A beetle is buzzing over the lamp shade
A ground-beetle is buzzing,
Is buzzing and is flying around in circles.

Нож = Knife

Ж = [zhe] / Ш = [sh]

У вас наш нож и у нас ваш нож.

Translation:
You have our knife and we have your knife.

Покупки = Purchases

П [p] / К [k]

Расскажите про покупки!
Про какие про покупки?
Про покупки, про покупки, про покупочки мои.

Translation:
Tell (me) about the purchases!
About what purchases?
About the purchases, about the purchases, about my little purchases.

Conjugation of the verb “рассказать” = “to tell”

Куртка = Jacket

К [k] / Т [t] / Р [r]

У Кондрата куртка коротковата.

Translation:
Condrat has a jacket that is a bit too short.

Скороговорки = Tongue Twisters

К [k] / В [v] / Р [r]

Все скороговорки не перевыскороговоришь.

Translation:
It is impossible to say quickly all the tongue twisters.
(The verb “перевыскороговорить” was invented for this tongue twister.)

Капюшон = Hood

К = [k] / Ш [sh] / П [p] / Н [n]

Кукушка кукушонку купила капюшон.
Надел кукушонок капюшон,
В капюшоне кукушонок смешон.

Translation:
A cuckoo bought a hood for a little cuckoo.
The little cuckoo put on the hood,
Wearing the hood, the little cuckoo looks ridiculous.

Conjugation of the verb купить = to buy

Ели у ели = Ate by the Spruce

Л [l]

Мы ели, ели ершей у ели.
Их еле-еле у ели доели.

Translation:
We ate, ate pope fish by the spruce.
We hardly ate the pope fish up by the spruce.

Conjugation of the verb есть = to eat

Молодец с пирогами = The Fellow with Pies

Ц [ts] / Р [r]

Съел молодец тридцать три пирога с пирогом, да все с творогом.

Translation:
A fellow ate thirty three pies with a pie, and all of them curd-filled.

Conjugation of the verb съесть = to eat up

Russian recipes:
Pierogi (also “piroshki): small pies with different fillings

Четыре чертёнка = Four Little Devils

Ч [tch] / Р [r]

В четверг четвёртого числа четыре четверти часа
Четыре чёрненьких, чумазеньких чертёнка
Чертили чёрными чернилами чертёж.
Чрезвычайно чисто.

Translation:
On Thursday, the 4th, four quarters of an hour long,
Four black smudgy little devils
Were drawing a drawing in black ink.
Extraordinarily neatly.

Mehr zu den russischen Wörtern aus diesem Zungenbrecher:
“Четверг” = “Thursday” and other days of the week
Telling the time in Russian: “четверть”= “quarter of an hour” and other expressions

Чеpепаха и чай = The Turtle and the Tea

Ч [tch]

Чеpепахa, не скучaя, чaс сидит зa чaшкой чaя.

Translation:
A turtle is sitting with a cup of tea for an hour without getting bored.

Conjugation of the verb сидеть = to sit

Щётка = Brush

Щ [shtch] / Ч [tch]

Этой щёткой чищу зубы,
Этой чищу башмаки,
Этой чищу свои брюки,
Эти щётки все нужны.

Translation:
With this brush I brush my teeth,
With this brush I brush my shoes,
With this brush I brush my trousers,
All these brushes are necessary.

Сашка и шишки = Sashka and Pine Cones

Ш [sh] / К [k]

У Сашки в кармашке шишки и шашки.

Translation:
Sashka has pine cones and draughts in the little pocket.

Сашка is a pet name of Александр (m) or Александра (f).
More about Russian names

Поезд = Train

Щ [shtch] / Ж [zhe] / Ш [sh] / Ч [tch]

Поезд мчится скрежеща: ж, ч, ш, щ, ж, ч, ш, щ.

Translation:
A train is going on a high speed making squealing noises: zhe, tche, sh, shtcha, zhe, tche, sh, shtcha.

Related content:

Russian Language Exercises
Russian Verbs: learn and practice conjugation