brown cow

Perhaps you do not know that “How Now Brown Cow” might have had it’s origin from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” when he wrote “How say you now?  Is it not past two o’clock?”  Also – perhaps it didn’t.

But it has been a part of elocution practice given by speech teachers for almost 100 years, – possibly since 1926.

I am bringing up this subject because I don’t hear well.  At least I don’t hear well enough to distinguish words as many, even most, people deliver them.  I wish more speakers would take advantage of Toastmaster’s International or other public speaking opportunities.  Communication is a two way street.   We hear a lot about being a good listener, but not much about being a good speaker.

One way to practice speaking plainly is by use of tongue twisters.  So have your children and grand children join in old fashioned stand byes like:

  1.  How now, Brown Cow.

  2. Rubber baby buggy bumpers.

  3. Susie’s sister sewed socks for soldiers.

  4. A flea and a fly flew up the flue.

  5. Of all the smells I have ever smelt, I have never smelt a smell that smelt like that smell smelt.

  6. The sixth sick Sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.

If you can master #6, you are better than I am.  Perhaps I can mime it.


Image: Imgur

About oneta hayes

ABOUT ME Hello. To various folks I am Neat’nee, Mom, Grandma Neta, Gramma, Aunt Neta, Aunt Noni, Aunt Neno, and Aunt Neto (lots of varieties from little nieces and nephews). To some I’m more like “Didn’t you used to be my teacher?” or “Don’t I know you from someplace?” To you, perhaps, I am a Fellow Blogger. Not “fellow” like a male or a guy, but “fellow” like a companion or an adventurer. I would choose to be Grandma Blogger, and have you pull up a chair, my website before you, while I tell you of some days of yore. I have experienced life much differently than most of you. It was and is a good life. I hope to share nuggets of appreciation for those who have gone before me and those who come after me. By necessity you are among those who come after me and I will tell you of those who came before. Once upon a time in a little house on a prairie - oops, change that lest I commit plagiarism - and change that “house on the prairie” to “dugout on the prairie.” So my story begins...
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29 Responses to HOW NOW, BROWN COW

  1. pranabaxom says:

    Love these tongue twisters.
    Now need to try how before comes the brown cow. 😊

  2. says:

    I taught speech for several years and did lots of tongue twisters with my drama classes. I’m in the same boat as far as losing my hearing, but I do believe people are becoming lazy in the way they speak too. They often mumble, talk too fast, to quietly and maybe that’s because they don’t need to use their voices so much any more. Here’s another tongue twister for your collection: The dude dropped in at the Dew Drop Inn. Oh. here’s another: The skunk sat on a stump. The skunk thunk the stump stunk and the stump thunk the skunk stunk.

    • oneta hayes says:

      The dorm my to become husband lived in was called Dew Drop Inn. I love your skunk stumper! I guess you also think speakers should be aware of their responsibility to speak well enough to be understood by at least most listeners. I was an impossible speaker for many years of my life. When I was a student teacher, my consultant told me I was going to have to learn to speak up if I planned to ever be able to control a classroom. Now I would like to wave my trophies at him – won at Toastmaster’s International – but never did I get above three levels Aww, those were the days! 😀

      • says:

        Good for you. I’m getting early signs of an aging voice. Scratchy and squeaky. I can still sing though. Maybe I’ll have to sing instead of talking.

        • oneta hayes says:

          Enjoy the singing. I can hardly make it through one verse and chorus now. I can still sing a bit here at home where I can sing in the key I happen to be able to hit at the moment! 😀

          • says:

            I know. I used to sing alto in the choir. Then had to quit choir because I worked when they practiced. When I came back I was a soprano. Now I’m back singing in our new church choir as an alto. My voice is still ok but sometimes it cracks so I could ever do a solo. I love the old hymns the best❤️

            • oneta hayes says:

              I sang alto when I was young. We sang a lot of southern gospel type songs with lots of harmony. Changed to soprano when I went to a church which sang more of the hymns. I could harmonize the alto, but I was not good at reading the alto notes instead of turning lose and letting it fly. 😀

  3. Georgia Pugh says:

    I love these tongue twisters – I will 110% try these out on my younger brother!

    • oneta hayes says:

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, do try them. Let me know if you can master #6. I tried; I can’t. There are more cute twisters in the comments section. I love the skunk one. Glad to begin knowing you. I love commenting bloggers. 😀 Love others also but can’t turn them into friends as easily.

  4. Very interesting, thanks for sharing. I agree that speak patterns are changing because people do not need to use their voices as much anymore. I also notice that fewer people speak in complete sentences. 🤗

  5. Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote says:

    Great post. I enjoyed the tongue twisters, #6 is too hard for me too, and I am also losing my hearing.

    But, who cares about any of that — HOW did that COW get up on a ROOF?! Or was it photo shopped?

    • oneta hayes says:

      I didn’t put her there; if I had I would have put a cow there instead of a steer! Oh, well, no one has called attention to that mistake! 😀 He/she really should come down. I’ll go yell, “Down now, cow” a few times and see if it works. Maybe I’ll have a hound yowl also. Good night, dear.

  6. shoreacres says:

    What fun! I grew up with numbers 1,2,3 and 4. Of course, there was that she who sells seashells, too!

    • oneta hayes says:

      Did you notice the “skunk thunk” in the comments above. It is a good one. I didn’t know it before. And, yes, your “she sells seashells be the seashore” is good also. I almost achieved #6 today while showing off to my granddaughter – at least I got to the last word.

  7. These tongue twisters are wonderful!! I had not heard of some of them. Another we always did as kids: If a woodchuck could chuck wood how much wood would a woodchuck chuck?

    • oneta hayes says:

      Yes, the woodchuck! After the question as you wrote it, add “A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could if a woodchuck could chuck wood.” Night, Faye. Thanks for the comment.

  8. Faye says:

    thank you for sharing these tongue twisters. This should be a ‘must’ for all who are in public speaking or particularly now in films and TV PROGRAM. Both David and I struggle with some of the latest dramas on T.V. It’s not about the American Accent (one we navigated that it was not a problem… is the F A S T indescribable presentation so that at the end of sentences we both have not caught or heard a word that meant anything to us. (Particularly in police dramas where the cliché comments are hard to decipher but a few rushed sentences. make it impossible to follow). Please in drama teaching or for public presentation from all accents and parts of the world a return to something like SHE SELLS SEA SHELLS ON THE SEA SHORE. IF THE SEA SHELLS SHE SELLS ON THE SEA SHORE BE SEEN NO MORE, WOULD THE SEA SHELLS RETURN TO THE SEA AND THEN BE ON THE SEA SHORE NO MORE? you certainly could not say that as fast as many are talking today. Thank you for the blog. Great Tongue twisters.

  9. Pingback: Color your World: Burnt Orange | Tourmaline .

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