The tiger and the mouse

A text for demonstrating the prosody of read-aloud English

Ulrike Gut and Dafydd Gibbon Bielefeld University, Germany, 2003

A widely used standard text for illustrating the phonemes of read-aloud English, with many translations into other languages, is "The North Wind and the Sun", recommended by the International Phonetic Association (an English translation of one of Aesop's fables). However the text is not suitable for demonstrating the prosody of read-aloud English because all the sentences are declarative. In order to overcome this problem for studying prosodic variation in varieties of English, a new text was designed, The Tiger and the Mouse. The story was written by Ulrike Gut, and the last sentence is attributed to Dafydd Gibbon.

The story was developed as part of the Learning Prosody in a Foreign Language project led by Ulrike Gut at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, from May 2001 to July 2003 with funding from the Northrine Westphalian Ministry of Science, Education and Research, and is documented as Story A of the project report (Gut 2003).

Gut, Ulrike. 2003. LeaP: A phonetically annotated corpus of non-native speech. Augsburg University online ms.
Alternative downloads: The Tiger and the Mouse The Tiger and the Mouse

Gut, Ulrike and Dafydd Gibbon. 2003. The Tiger and the Mouse. Online ms. Bielefeld University.

The story is reproduced below and may be freely used provided that correct author attribution is made.

The tiger and the mouse

A tiger and a mouse were walking in a field when they saw a big lump of cheese lying on the ground.
The mouse said: "Please, tiger, let me have it. You don't even like cheese. Be kind and find something else to eat." But the tiger put his paw on the cheese and said: "It's mine! And if you don't go I'll eat you too." The mouse was very sad and went away.
The tiger tried to swallow all of the cheese at once but it got stuck in his throat and whatever he tried to do he could not move it.
After a while, a dog came along and the tiger asked it for help. "There is nothing I can do." said the dog and continued on his way. Then, a frog hopped along and the tiger asked it for help. "There is nothing I can do." said the frog and hopped away.
Finally, the tiger went to where the mouse lived. She lay in her bed in a hole which she had dug in the ground. "Please help me," said the tiger. "The cheese is stuck in my throat and I cannot remove it."
"You are a very bad animal," said the mouse. "You wouldn't let me have the cheese, but I'll help you nonetheless. Open your mouth and let me jump in. I'll nibble at the cheese until it is small enough to fall down your throat."
The tiger opened his mouth, the mouse jumped in and began nibbling at the cheese. The tiger thought:
"I really am very hungry.."