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Alphabe Thursday P is for Peter Piper

September 4, 2014

Peter Piper

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper:

A peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked;

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper;

Where’s the peck of pickled pepper pick?


I come from Hampshire where the accent is slurred and lazy; we would drop ‘H’ and do not sound our consonants. Our teachers and my mother were strict about pronunciation and would make us recite this tongue twister when we dropped into lazy language.  

Pupils in drama school too would use the poem as an exercise in articulation and rather cruelly the teacher would insist they added ‘off a pewter plate’ at the end of each line . You could be sure they were speaking the Queen’s English after that!

The practice is not new.  In the Literary Leisure, or the recreations of Solomon Saunter (1802), the satirist Hewson Clarke (b. 1787) said that ‘Peter Piper was a particular favourite with me’ , should be rehearsed ‘three times without drawing a breath’ which ‘renders it an useful lesson in the art of elocution’.

I have heard that in Our village Mary Russell Mitford (1787 – 1855) remembers how her French mistress insisted that they translated Peter Piper into Gallic’  Now that is cruel!

alphabet thursday

12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2014 11:43 am

    This was fascinating!

    In many of the Southern states of the US, we have a tendency to drop our R’s. A word like mother become mu-thah. Sister becomes sis-tah or for some, sus-tah.

    I was a speech major, and as such, I tried to develop more of a general American accent. Now, I wish I had majored in history and sounded more like Shelby Foote, the historian! 😉 He sounded like my father. Hard gutterals are harsh to a Southerner’s ears.

    When we were in England with my mother, people often asked her to repeat herself. She was a little frustrated, but I think they loved to hear her speak. She had a lovely voice. Maybe they thought she sounded like Melanie Wilkes in GWTW. 😉

    Speaking of which, the only actors, to me, that ever did a believable Southern accent besides Southerners themselves were all British. Think Vivien Leigh.

    We, too, learned Peter Piper. But it was fine to say, Pet-uh, Pipe-uh. 😉

    I popped over from Jenny Matlock’s, and as you can see. I have enjoyed your post!


    Sheila 🙂

  2. September 4, 2014 4:46 pm

    One of my favorite tongue twisters!

  3. September 4, 2014 4:52 pm

    fun ~ great post for P! ~ Happy Weekend to you!

    artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

  4. September 4, 2014 5:56 pm

    Here in Utah there are some interesting speech patterns – horse can become harse, pillow can become pullow…

    • September 4, 2014 6:12 pm

      We must celebrate these delights … I don’t care too much for the Queen’s English she has some rather ugly vowels!!

  5. September 5, 2014 2:59 pm

    hmmm, doesn’t the second line end with picked? I can’t believe people would say this three times without a breath. I would keel over! {:-D

    • September 5, 2014 3:16 pm

      OH! Thanks for the pointer now amended …. I suppose it depends on how badly you want to speak the Queens English … I for one would try that hard. 🙂

  6. September 5, 2014 3:40 pm

    This is Gallic? Wow! :))) I would like to see how that looks or sounds :))

  7. September 6, 2014 4:00 pm

    I used to say it, too. In fact, sometimes I still give it a go to see if I can still get through it. So far, so good!


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