Diction Exercises

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  • Topic: The Pirates of Penzance, Thistle, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
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Diction exercises will help you learn how to speak clearly. The athlete does warm-ups and stretches before an event: a singer does likewise. These exercises are the speaker's warm-up equivalent. They prepare and train you to speak with ease. Good diction is NOT about changing your accent or making you 'talk posh'. It is about clarity - making sure what you say is heard.

The most commonly known and used Diction Exercises are Tongue Twisters. There are many, each focusing on either a single letter, or a letter combination. They are popular, fun and extremely effective. You will have probably played with them before and possibly already know several of the ones listed below.

Diction Exercises:Tips & Tongue Twisters

▪ Always start slowly and carefully.
▪ Make sure the beginning and end of each word is crisp and avoid running the words together. ▪ Repeat the phrase, getting faster and faster.
Diction Exercises for 'S' words:

Six thick thistle sticks

Theophilus Thistler, the thistle sifter, in sifting a sieve of unsifted thistles, thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.

The shrewd shrew sold Sarah seven sliver fish slices.

Sister Susie sat on the sea shore sewing shirts for sailors

Moses supposes his toses are roses,
But Moses supposes erroneously,
For nobody's toeses are posies of roses
As Moses supposes his toses to be.

(Pronounce the word 'toses' to rhyme with 'Moses'.)

Diction Exercises for 'B' words:

Betty bought a bit of butter, but she found the butter bitter, so Betty bought a bit of better butter to make the bitter butter better.

Bill had a billboard.
Bill also had a board bill.
The board bill bored Bill,
So Bill sold his billboard
And paid his board bill.
Then the board bill
No longer bored Bill,
But though he had no board bill,
Neither did he have his billboard!

For 'D' words try:

Did Doug dig Dick's garden or did Dick dig Doug's garden?

Do drop in at the Dewdrop Inn

Diction Exercises for 'F' words:

Four furious friends fought for the phone

Five flippant Frenchmen fly from France for fashions

For 'H' words try:

How was Harry hastened so hurriedly from the hunt?

Diction Exercises for 'J' words:

James just jostled Jean gently.

Jack the jailbird jacked a jeep.

Diction Exercises for 'K' words:

Kiss her quick, kiss her quicker, kiss her quickest.

My cutlery cuts keenly and cleanly.

Diction Exercises for 'L' words:

Literally literary.

Larry sent the latter a letter later.

Lucy lingered, looking longingly for her lost lap-dog.

Diction Exercise for 'N' and 'U' sounds:

You know New York,
You need New York,
You know you need unique New York.

Diction Exercises for 'P' words:

Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.If Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,Where's the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?

Pearls, please, pretty Penelope,
Pretty Penelope, pretty Penelope,
Pearls, please, pretty Penelope,
Pretty Penelope Pring.

For 'Q' words:

Quick kiss. Quicker kiss. Quickest kiss.

Quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly...

For 'R' words:

Round the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran.

Reading and writing are richly rewarding.

For 'T' words:

Ten tame tadpoles tucked tightly in a thin tall tin.

Two toads, totally tired, trying to trot to Tewkesbury.

For 'V' words:

Vincent vowed vengeance very vehemently.

Vera valued the valley violets.

And lastly, two especially for your tongue.

Red leather, yellow leather...

Red lorry, yellow lorry...
And one more!

This comes from Gilbert and Sullivan's light opera 'The Pirates of Penzance'.

It's guaranteed to make you work. This is the tongue's equivalent of a triathalon! It includes many difficult combinations impossible to get right unless you articulate clearly. Have fun with it!

'I am the very pattern of a modern Major-General;
I've information vegetable,...
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