It’s a wonder I ever learned to speak English! And it’s no wonder the majority of North Americans are unilingual! Here’s a gem my Minor Niner brought home from his high school English teacher. If I were learning English now, I think I’d give up after the first paragraph (gibberish will have to do!)!! Have fun!
English is Tough Stuff
Dearest creature in Creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse:
Words like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
This will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with head grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I!! Oh, hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.
Sword and sward, retain and Britain,
(Mind the latter, how it’s written),
Now I surely will not plague you,
With such words as vague and ague
But be careful how you speak.
Say break, steak, bleak and streak,
Cloven, oven; how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Friend and fiend; alive and live;
Liberty, library: heave and heaven.
Rachel, ache; mustache, eleven.
We say hallowed but allowed,
Also leopard; towed but vowed.
Note the difference, moreover
Between mover, plover,Dover;
Beeches, breeches; wise, precise,
Chalice but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label;
Petal, penal, and canal.
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal;
Worm and storm; chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Ivy, privy; famous, clamour;
And enamour rhymes with “hammer”;
River, rival., tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichors,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, reviles;
Scholar, vicar and cigar,
One, anemone; Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind;
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,
Billet does not sound like ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet,
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would,
Viscous, viscount; load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward,
And your pronunciation’s O.K.
When you correctly say croquet.
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sleeve,
Scenic, Arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,
Tour but our and succour, four,
Gas and alas and Arkansas!
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Neither does devour with clangour;
Soul but foul, and gaunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont; want, grand and grant;
Shoes, goes, does; now first say finger,
And then, singer, ginger, linger;
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury;
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth
Job, Job, bosom, oath;
Though the difference seems little,
We say actual but victual;
Refer does not rhyme with “deafer”,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer;
Dull, bull, and George, ate, late,
Mint, pint, senate and sedate.
Ear but earn and wear and tear,
Do not rhyme with “here” and “ere”;
Seven is right but so is even.
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen;
Monkey, donkey, clerk and quirk,
Asp, grasp, wasp: and cork and work.
Doctrine, turpetine, marine;
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion;
Sally with ally; yoa, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.
Pronunciation – think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make :you lose your wits,
Writing “groats” and saying grits.
Created by NATO staff at HQ in Paris
Quoted from The Education Forum, Published by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Association.