How much wood would a woodchuck chuck

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A woodchuck
Sawn logs of wood

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck is an American English-language tongue-twister.[1][2] The woodchuck from the Algonquian word "wejack" is a kind of marmot regionally called a groundhog.[3] The complete beginning of the tongue-twister usually goes: "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"[1][2] The tongue-twister relies primarily on alliteration to achieve its effects, with five "w" sounds interspersed among five "ch" sounds.[4]

Answers[edit]

The traditional "response" to the question is: "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood".[5] This answer is considered nonsensical for being a tautology.

A 1957 Associated Press piece refers to the question as "a riddle which beats the Sphinx, since it's still unanswered".[6] A more concrete answer was published by the Associated Press in 1988, which reported that a New York fish and wildlife technician named Richard Thomas had calculated the volume of dirt in a typical 25–30-foot (7.6–9.1 m) long woodchuck burrow and had determined that if the woodchuck had moved an equivalent volume of wood, it could move "about 700 pounds (320 kg) on a good day, with the wind at his back".[7][8] Another study, which considered "chuck" to be the opposite of upchucking, determined that a woodchuck could ingest 361.9237001 cm3 (22.08593926 cu in)[9] of wood per day.[10]

Another proposed response comes from the parody-filled video game Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, where the protagonist asks a carpenter the question and gets the response: "A woodchuck would chuck no amount of wood since a woodchuck can't chuck wood."[11]

Origin[edit]

The origin of the phrase is from a 1902 song "The Woodchuck Song", written by Robert Hobart Davis for Fay Templeton in the musical The Runaways.[12][13] the lyrics became better known in a 1904 version of the song written by Theodore Morse, with a chorus of "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?",[14] which was recorded by Ragtime Roberts, in 1904.[15]

The tongue-twister is documented as "folklore" in 1972 at Farmington, Michigan.[16] It is used in the title of Werner Herzog's 1976 film How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck, a documentation of the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship in New Holland, Pennsylvania.

The woodchuck is also known as a groundhog, leading to the alternate version How much ground could a groundhog hog if a groundhog could hog ground?

Popular culture[edit]

  • Google features this tongue twister as an Easter egg in its Google search and Google Now.[17][18][19][20]
  • A slight variation was featured in the video game "Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge".[21]
  • Wolfram|Alpha features an easter egg when asked the query "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?"[22]
  • Ludacris incorporates this tongue twister in the Chamillionaire single "Creepin' (Solo)".[23]
  • A British YouTube personality, KSI used a version of the phrase in his song titled "Earthquake" which achieved over 30 million views.[24] The line in question asks an another YouTuber, Behzinga, 'how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck looked like you?'

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Thomas A. Green, Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music (1997): "Sometimes, tongue twisters utilize elaborate sound inversions in complex juxtapositions—for example, 'How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?'"
  2. ^ a b Elizabeth Tucker Children's Folklorgue twisters include 'Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers', 'She sells seashells by the seashore', and 'How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?'.
  3. ^ Richard M. Hogg, Norman Francis Blake, Roger Lass, The Cambridge History of the English Language (1992), Vol. 6, p. 189. "The woodchuck, from Algonquian wejack, a marmot regionally called groundhog, has evoked in jocular folklore the unanswerable question: 'How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?'".
  4. ^ Sherrill B. Flora, Early Literacy Intervention Activities, Grades PK - K (2011), p. 79.
  5. ^ See, e.g., Florence Kingsland, In and Out Door Games: With Suggestions for Entertainments (1904), p. 250: "If a woodchuck could chuck, a woodchuck can't would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood." Variations abound, as in, Edward W. Mumford, compiler, Smiles in Rime (1904): "Well, If a woodchuck could chuck wood, a woodchuck would chuck all the wood that a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood!"; Helen Josephine Ferris, Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls (1957), p. 358: "He would chuck what wood a woodchuck would chuck, / If a woodchuck would chuck wood".
  6. ^ Dion Henderson, "Groundhog Has His Annual Day Saturday; Move Over Mr. Bacon", Sarasota Journal (January 31, 1957), p. 14.
  7. ^ "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?", Spokane Chronicle (July 11, 1988), p. A9.
  8. ^ Press Won't Chuck That Woodchuck Story.
  9. ^ Giving this number without any error bars.
  10. ^ P. A. Paskevich and T. B. Shea (July–August 1995). "The Ability of Woodchucks to Chuck Cellulose Fibers". Annals of Improbable Research. 1 (4): 4–9. 
  11. ^ Can be found transcribed in this list of quotes or in the game.en.wikiquote.org
  12. ^ The Tammany Times, Volumes 20–21, 1902, Page 305. "'How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, If a woodchuck would chuck wood?' That is the beginning of the refrain of a song that Mr. Robert Hobart Davis has written for Fay Templeton in The Runaways. Miss Templeton is trying the song..."
  13. ^ Hobbies, Volume 78, Issues 1–6, Page 119, Otto C. Lightner, Pearl Ann Reeder, 1973. "Mathias quotes Davis as saying he made $20,000 from the sale of 'The Woodchuck Song' (this must have been from sheet music, for royalties were not paid on record sales in those days) after he and Morse called at Fay Templeton's home..."
  14. ^ Tim Gracyk, Bob Roberts - Tenor. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  15. ^ Edison Amberola Monthly, Thomas A. Edison, Inc., 1976, Volume 1, Page 8. "'The Woodchuck's Song' is a Record of Fay Templeton's song in The Runaways. made by Bob Roberts, a baritone who is thereby introduced to buyers of Edison Gold Moulded Records. This song has for its chorus the old query, 'How...'".
  16. ^ The James T. Callow Folklore Archive, Tongue Twister: How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck, Michigan; Farmington; 09-26-1972.
  17. ^ Nazarian, Robert (November 17, 2013). "Google Now Easter Egg collection". Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ Knoll, Marc (November 8, 2013). "Awesome List Of Google Now Voice Commands". Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  19. ^ Shrestha, Ashesh (December 28, 2013). "Try These Google Now Easter Eggs". Nepal. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  20. ^ "100+ Google Now Voice Commands and Easter Eggs". Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (1991 Video Game) Quotes". 
  22. ^ "Wolfram Alpha woodchuck easter egg". 
  23. ^ "Chamillionaire–Creepin (Solo) Feat. Ludacris Lyrics". YouTube. March 13, 2011. p. 3:20. 
  24. ^ KSI (2017-08-12), KSI ft Ricegum - Earthquake (Official Music Video), retrieved 2017-11-06