Friday, March 20, 2020

A Comic Poem About English Spelling and Pronunciation

A Comic Poem About English Spelling and Pronunciation Composed by Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenità © (1870-1946), a Dutch author and teacher, The Chaos illustrates many of the irregularities of English spelling (orthography) and pronunciation. The Chaos by Charivarius (Gerard Nolst Trenità ©) Dearest creature in Creation,Studying English pronunciation,I will teach you in my verseSounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.I will keep you, Susy, busy,Make your head with heat grow dizzy;Tear in eye, your dress youll tear;So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer.Pray, console your loving poet,Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!Just compare heart, beard, and heard,Dies and diet, lord and word.Sword and sward, retain and Britain(Mind the latter, how its written!)Made has not the sound of bade,Say-said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.Now I surely will not plague youWith such words as vague and ague,But be careful how you speak,Say break, steak, but bleak and streak.Previous, precious, fuchsia, via;Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,Cloven, oven; how and low;Script, receipt; shoe, poem, toe.Hear me say, devoid of trickery:Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,Typhoid; measles, topsails, aisles;Exiles, similes, reviles;Wholly, holly; signal, signing;Thames; examining, combining;Scholar, vicar, and cig ar,Solar, mica, war, and far. From desire: desirableadmirable from admire;Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier;Chatham, brougham; renown but known,Knowledge; done, but gone and tone,One, anemone; Balmoral;Kitchen, lichen; laundry, laurel;Gertrude, German; wind and mind;Scene, Melpomene, mankind;Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.This phonetic labyrinthGives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.Billet does not end like ballet;Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;Blood and flood are not like food,Nor is mould like should and would.Banquet is not nearly parquet,Which is said to rhyme with darky.Viscous, viscount; load and broad;Toward, to forward, to reward,And your pronunciations OK.Rounded, wounded; grieve and sieve;Friend and fiend; alive and live.Liberty, library; heave and heaven;Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven,We say hallowed, but allowed;People, leopard; towed, but vowed.Mark the difference, moreover,Between mover, plover, Dover,Leeches, breeches; wise, precise;Chalice but pol ice and lice. Camel, constable, unstable;Principle, disciple; label;Petal, penal, and canal;Wait, surmise, plait, promise; pal.Suit, suite, ruin; circuit, conduitRhyme with shirk it and beyond it.But it is not hard to tellWhy its pall, mall, but Pall Mall.Muscle, muscular; gaol, iron;Timber, climber; bullion, lion,Worm and storm; chaise, chaos, chair;Senator, spectator, mayor.Ivy, privy, famous; clamourAnd enamour rime with hammer.Pussy, hussy, and possess,Desert, but desert, address.Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenantsHoist in lieu of flags left pennants.Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,Cow, but Cowper, some, and home.Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker,Quoth he, than liqueur or liquor,Making, it is sad but true,In bravado, much ado.Stranger does not rhyme with anger,Neither does devour with clangour.Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant.Arsenic, specific, scenic,Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,Paradise, rise, rose, and dose. Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,Make the latter rhyme with eagle.Mind! Meandering but mean,Valentine and magazine.And I bet you, dear, a penny,You say mani-(fold) like many,Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,Tier (one who ties), but tier.Arch, archangel; pray, does erringRhyme with herring or with stirring?Prison, bison, treasure trove,Treason, hover, cover, cove,Perseverance, severance. RibaldRhymes (but piebald doesnt) with nibbled.Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.Dont be down, my own, but rough it,And distinguish buffet, buffet;Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.Say in sounds correct and sterlingHearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.Evil, devil, mezzotint,Mind the Z! (A gentle hint.)   Now you need not pay attentionTo such sounds as I dont mention,Sounds like  pores, pause, pours  and  paws,Rhyming with the pronoun  yours;Nor are proper names included,Though I often heard, as you did,Funny rhymes to  unicorn,Yes, you know them,  Vaughan  and  Strachan.No, my maiden, coy and  comely,I dont want to speak of  Cholmondeley.No. Yet  Froude  compared with  proudIs no better than  McLeod.But mind  trivial  and  vial,Tripod, menial, denial,Troll  and  trolley, realm  and  ream,Schedule, mischief, schism, and  scheme.Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. SurelyMay be made to rhyme with  Raleigh,But youre not supposed to sayPiquet  rhymes with  sobriquet.Had this  invalid invalidWorthless documents? How  pallid,How  uncouth he, couchant, looked,When for Portsmouth I had booked!Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,Paramour,  enamoured, flighty,Episodes, antipodes,Acquiesce, and  obsequies.Please dont monkey with the  geyser,Dont p eel taters with my  razor,Rather say in accents pure:Nature, stature  and  mature.Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,Wan, sedan  and  artisan. The  TH  will surely trouble youMore than  R, CH  or  W.Say then these phonetic gems:Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,There are more but I forget em-Wait! Ive got it:  Anthony,Lighten your anxiety.The archaic word  albeitDoes not rhyme with  eight-you see it;With  and  forthwith, one has voice,One has not, you make your choice.Shoes,  goes, does. Now first  say:  finger;Then say:  singer, ginger, linger.Real, zeal, mauve, gauze  and  gauge,Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,Hero, heron, query, very,Parry, tarry fury, bury,Dost, lost, post, and  doth, cloth, loth,Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.Faugh, oppugnant, keen  oppugners,Bowing, bowing, banjo-tunersHolm  you know, but  noes, canoes,Puisne, truism, use, to  use?Though the difference seems  little,We say  actual, but  victual,Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,Put, nut, granite, and  unite.Reefer  does not rhyme with  deafer,Feoffer   does, and  zephyr, heifer.Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,Hint, pint, senate, but  sedate.Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,Science, conscience, scientific;Tour, but  our, dour, succour, four,Gas, alas, and  Arkansas. Say  manoeuvre, yacht  and  vomit,Next  omit, which differs  from itBona fide, alibiGyrate, dowry and awry.Sea, idea, guinea, area,Psalm, Maria, but  malaria.Youth, south, southern, cleanse  and  clean,Doctrine, turpentine, marine.Compare  alien  with  Italian,Dandelion  with  battalion,Rally  with  ally; yea, ye,Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!Say  aver, but  ever, fever,Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.Never guessit is not  safe,We say  calves, valves, half, but  Ralf.Starry, granary, canary,Crevice, but  device, and  eyrie,Face, but  preface, then  grimace,Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,Ought, oust, joust, and  scour, but  scourging;Ear, but  earn; and  ere  and  tearDo not rhyme with  here  but  heir.Mind the  O  of  off  and  oftenWhich may be pronounced as  orphan,With the sound of  saw  and  sauce;Also  soft, lost, cloth  and  cross.Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?Yes: at golf it rhymes with  shutting.Respite, spite, consent, resent.Liable, but  Parliament.Seven  is right, but so is  even,Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,Monkey, donkey, clerk  and  jerk,Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.A  of  valour, vapid vapour,S  of  news  (compare  newspaper),G  of  gibbet, gibbon, gist,I  of  antichrist  and  grist,Differ  like  diverse  and  divers,Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers. Once, but  nonce, toll, doll, but  roll,Polish, Polish, poll  and  poll.Pronunciationthink of  Psyche!-Is a paling, stout and  spiky.Wont it make you lose your witsWriting  groats  and saying  grits?Its a dark abyss or tunnelStrewn with stones like  rowlock, gunwale,Islington, and  Isle of Wight,Housewife, verdict  and  indict.Dont you think so, reader,  rather,Saying  lather, bather, father?Finally, which rhymes with  enough,Though, through, bough, cough, hough,sough, tough?Hiccough  has the sound of cup . . .My advice is: give it up! The Chaos by Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenità © first appeared (in a shorter version) in an appendix to his textbook  Drop Your Foreign Accent, published in 1920.

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