Peter Piper is another well-known alliterative tongue twister: "Peter Piper harvested a peck of pickled peppers." The device used to create this effect is called an anagram. When you use an anagram to say something witty, it makes the poem or song all the more fun to hear.
An anagram is when you change the letters in a word to make another word. For example, if I changed the letters in the word "pickle" to make another word, that would be "peeler". A person who changes the meaning of words by rearranging their letters is called a word joker. There are many word games played with the aim of creating new meanings for words by changing one letter at a time. For example, there is a game called Hangman where you try to guess a word by removing letters from a crossword grid. Each row, column, and diagonal line of the grid contains a word beginning with the corresponding letter. You can only remove letters that don't change the meaning of the word, so each letter must be used once before it can be removed from the grid.
In poetry, writers often use anagrams to create surprise effects when reading their works aloud.
Peter Piper collected a peck of pickled peppers is a common contemporary rendition. Peter Piper chose a peck of pickled peppers. This story may have its origins in the 16th century when Europeans first encountered chili peppers. Although they were known to exist before this time, they were not widely cultivated until much later. When Spanish explorers arrived in what is now Mexico they found that the Indians used chili peppers as a spice and also made wine from them. They brought the seeds with them when they returned home and planted them in their gardens. Chili peppers are classified into two main groups: bell peppers and hot peppers.
Today, most people know Peter Piper as the title character of a children's book by Edward Taylor features a little boy who flew with his pet piper across the Atlantic Ocean. In the story, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers but didn't tell anyone what kind they were. The next day, everyone asked him why he hadn't told them what kind of peppers he had picked. So, Peter Piper answered "none." This story has been used as an example of word play by language educators for generations.
However, the actual origin of this story is somewhat different.
"Peter Piper" is a well-known alliteration tongue twister and English-language nursery rhyme. The Roud Folk Song Index number for this song is 19745.
It has been suggested that the name "Peter Piper" comes from an early 17th-century spelling of the Latin word petrus, meaning "rock". This interpretation was first published in 1813 by John Newbery in A Collection of Old English Songs.
However, the first publication to suggest this explanation was in 1838 by Alexander Henry Bell in his book English Folk Names: Their Origin and Meaning.
Bell based his explanation on a note in Thomas Dekker's 1602 play The Honest Whore 3 which reads "P.S. Petrus Stellio (a rock)." However, this note is in reference to a character named Pippin who is using the word "petrus" as a noun rather than a verb like in the song. It is also possible that Dekker intended the name to be read as a tongue twister.
A more recent suggestion comes from Eric Partridge in his book A Dictionary of Rhyming Words where he quotes William Barnes as saying "The origin of the name is probably due to its sound. It is formed by combining two words 'Peter' and 'Piper'.
Where is Peter Piper's peck of pickled peppers? In 1813, John Harris's Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation included Peter and his famed pickled peppers. The story goes that when Peter was a young boy, he used to help his father pickle peppers. When asked where he got his inspiration from, he would say, "Why, I went down to the river and watched my father work at his trade."
Peter Piper picked a pepper but didn't know what to do with it so he put it in his pocket and kept on going. A little bird told him that there was money inside a gold coin, so he took it out of his pocket and tried to open the coin using his teeth but couldn't so he threw it into the air and it turned out to be a queen coin. He decided to go and find someone who could help him with this coin so he traveled all over England looking for someone who could tell him how to open the coin but no one could help him so he gave up and went back home.
When he got there, he found that his family had moved away. So he went to America and started again so this time he brought a few friends with him. They worked hard for several years until they grew too old to pick peppers anymore.