Recitation of Betty Botter tongue-twister
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Betty Botter is a tongue-twister written by Carolyn Wells. It was originally titled "The Butter Betty Bought." By the middle of the 20th century, it had become part of the Mother Goose collection of nursery rhymes.
The construction is based on alliteration, using the repeated two-syllable pattern /'b__tə 'b__tə 'b__tə/ with a range of vowels in the first, stressed syllable. The difficulty is in clearly and consistently differentiating all the vowels from each other.
- They are almost all short vowels:
- /æ/ batter
- /e/ better - Betty
- /ɪ/ bitter - bit o'
- /ɒ/ Botter
- /ʌ/ butter
- with one long vowel /ɔ:/ 'Bought a'
When it was first published in "The Jingle Book" in 1899 it read:
Betty Botta bought some butter;
“But,” she said, “this butter's bitter!
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit o’ better butter
Will but make my batter better.”
Then she bought a bit o’ butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.
So ’twas better Betty BottaBought a bit o’ better butter.
This is Sam Robertson's version.
Betty Botta bought a bit of bitter butter and she put that bitter butter in her batter and it made her batter bitter so Betty Botta bought a bit of better butter and she put that bit of better butter in her bitter batter and it made her bitter batter better
Bronte Alberts' Version
Betty Botter bought a bit of butter
But the butter was bitterSo Betty Botter bought a better bit of butter
A longer version
Betty Botter bought some butter, but, she said, The butter's bitter; If I put it in my batter, It will make my batter bitter. But, a bit of better butter will make my batter better. So, she bought a bit of butter better than her bitter butter, and she put it in her batter and the batter was not bitter. So, 'twas better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.
- The Jingle Book, Carolyn Wells (Macmillan, New York), 1899, page 86
- "A Book of American Humorous Verse" edited by James Whitcomb Riley, Duffield & Company, New York, 1917, page 169, in which Ms. Wells' authorship and Macmillan's original copyright is acknowledged.
- The Oxford dictionary of nursery rhymes, edited by Iona and Peter Opie, Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1951; page 84-85