Languages › English as a Second Language Tongue Twisters: "Woodchuck" The riddle comes from a 1903 song, and it has a theoretical answer Share Flipboard Email Print Getty Images/Philippe Henry English as a Second Language Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Grammar Business English Resources for Teachers By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated November 26, 2019 Tongue twisters are fun word games used to challenge our pronunciation. The alliteration in their phrasing allows people to concentrate their practice on one sound to help with fluency. More than just silly kids' games, tongue twisters are used by actors, singers, and public speakers to work on their enunciation and articulation, so that these performers can be understood in front of a crowd. As an English learner, you can use tongue twisters to help with pronunciation of certain sounds. In this woodchuck tongue twister, you can work on your "w"s. Round your lips and make a small gap between your teeth to make the "w" sound. Woodchuck "How much wood would a woodchuck chuckif a woodchuck could chuck wood?He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck wouldif a woodchuck could chuck wood." Improving Your Pronunciation The "w" sound practiced in this tongue twister is voiced and sometimes confused with the "v" sound, which is also voiced. The difference between the two sounds is that the "w" uses rounded lips and "v" is the voiced version of the voiceless "f" sound, produced by resting your teeth on your lower lip. Practice the difference in these sounds with minimal pairs, or words that have only a difference between the "w" and "v" sound. why—viewent—vent The Origin of "Woodchuck" The "Woodchuck" tongue twister is from the refrain of the "Woodchuck Song," by Robert Hobart Davis and Theodore F. Morse. The song debuted in an American summer hit comedy musical "The Runaways," which had a run of 167 performances between May and October in 1903 at New York City's Casino Theater. The song was sold to consumers as sheet music featuring actress/singer/comedian Fay Templeton and on Edison wax cylinders, which predated flat phonograph records, performed by Ragtime Bob Roberts. An Answer to the Question? Unanswered questions don't always sit right with people. In 1988, state wildlife conservation officer Richard Thomas of New York attempted to figure out just how much a wood a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck was capable of doing so and had the inclination. Woodchucks don't actually chuck (throw) wood, of course, but, since they are a burrowing rodent, they do know well how to toss around some dirt. So Thomas took to calculating a typical size of a woodchuck burrow, which consists of three rooms and a tunnel leading to it that is roughly six inches wide and extends 25 to 30 feet. He determined that 35 square feet of soil needed to be excavated to create such a burrow. Knowing that a cubic foot of soil weighs 20 pounds, he calculated that a woodchuck can chuck 700 pounds of dirt a day. This calculation led Mr. Thomas, by extension, to an answer to what was then an 85-year-old question. Should a woodchuck be so inclined, Thomas concluded, he could chuck about 700 pounds of wood as well. More Tongue Twisters Other American English tongue twisters include Peter Piper, She Sells Seashells by the Seashore, Betty Botter, and A Flea and a Fly.