Tongue-twisters as tipsy tipsters?

Betty may have bought a bit of butter, and the butter may well have been so bitter that she bought some better butter to make the bitter butter better.

But, now, tongue-twisters like this may be used to detect, no, not just the suppleness of your tongue, but also whether you’ve had a bit too much to drink. Move over Breathalysers, alliterative analysers are here. Or so ‘Detection of Alcohol Intoxication Using Voice Features: A Controlled Laboratory Study’ by Stanford University proposes. No problem tripping that off the tongue sober or high.

‘The tongue-twister was used as a kind of vocal stress test to bring out changes that might not be detected when speaking routine prose,’ says Brian Suffoletto, the lead author of the study, without a falter. But we have two questions. One, these tongue-twisters will be tripped upon even by stone-sober folks who aren’t too versatile anyway with twisting their tongues. Two, considering not every sober person may be adept in English, the test must have to expand its language options depending on the case study. After all, telling a person non-versed in Hindi to say, ‘Samajh samajh ke samajh ko samjho, samajh samjhana bhi ek samajh hai,’ and the person who falters hardly means he or she is under the influence. So, while tongues may or may not twist, they will wag till a better test is found.


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