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 TrenitÃ © (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 TrenitÃ ©) 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.)Ã Now you need not pay attentionTo such sounds as I dont mention,Sounds likeÃ pores, pause, poursÃ andÃ paws,Rhyming with the pronounÃ yours;Nor are proper names included,Though I often heard, as you did,Funny rhymes toÃ unicorn,Yes, you know them,Ã VaughanÃ andÃ Strachan.No, my maiden, coy andÃ comely,I dont want to speak ofÃ Cholmondeley.No. YetÃ FroudeÃ compared withÃ proudIs no better thanÃ McLeod.But mindÃ trivialÃ andÃ vial,Tripod, menial, denial,TrollÃ andÃ trolley, realmÃ andÃ ream,Schedule, mischief, schism, andÃ scheme.Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. SurelyMay be made to rhyme withÃ Raleigh,But youre not supposed to sayPiquetÃ rhymes withÃ sobriquet.Had thisÃ invalid invalidWorthless documents? HowÃ pallid,HowÃ uncouth he, couchant, looked,When for Portsmouth I had booked!Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,Paramour,Ã enamoured, flighty,Episodes, antipodes,Acquiesce, andÃ obsequies.Please dont monkey with theÃ geyser,Dont p eel taters with myÃ razor,Rather say in accents pure:Nature, statureÃ andÃ mature.Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,Wan, sedanÃ andÃ artisan. TheÃ THÃ will surely trouble youMore thanÃ R, CHÃ orÃ 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:Ã Anthony,Lighten your anxiety.The archaic wordÃ albeitDoes not rhyme withÃ eight-you see it;WithÃ andÃ forthwith, one has voice,One has not, you make your choice.Shoes,Ã goes, does. Now firstÃ say:Ã finger;Then say:Ã singer, ginger, linger.Real, zeal, mauve, gauzeÃ andÃ gauge,Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,Hero, heron, query, very,Parry, tarry fury, bury,Dost, lost, post, andÃ doth, cloth, loth,Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.Faugh, oppugnant, keenÃ oppugners,Bowing, bowing, banjo-tunersHolmÃ you know, butÃ noes, canoes,Puisne, truism, use, toÃ use?Though the difference seemsÃ little,We sayÃ actual, butÃ victual,Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,Put, nut, granite, andÃ unite.ReeferÃ does not rhyme withÃ deafer,Feoffer Ã does, andÃ zephyr, heifer.Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,Hint, pint, senate, butÃ sedate.Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,Science, conscience, scientific;Tour, butÃ our, dour, succour, four,Gas, alas, andÃ Arkansas. SayÃ manoeuvre, yachtÃ andÃ vomit,NextÃ omit, which differsÃ from itBona fide, alibiGyrate, dowry and awry.Sea, idea, guinea, area,Psalm, Maria, butÃ malaria.Youth, south, southern, cleanseÃ andÃ clean,Doctrine, turpentine, marine.CompareÃ alienÃ withÃ Italian,DandelionÃ withÃ battalion,RallyÃ withÃ ally; yea, ye,Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!SayÃ aver, butÃ ever, fever,Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.Never guessit is notÃ safe,We sayÃ calves, valves, half, butÃ Ralf.Starry, granary, canary,Crevice, butÃ device, andÃ eyrie,Face, butÃ preface, thenÃ grimace,Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,Ought, oust, joust, andÃ scour, butÃ scourging;Ear, butÃ earn; andÃ ereÃ andÃ tearDo not rhyme withÃ hereÃ butÃ heir.Mind theÃ OÃ ofÃ offÃ andÃ oftenWhich may be pronounced asÃ orphan,With the sound ofÃ sawÃ andÃ sauce;AlsoÃ soft, lost, clothÃ andÃ cross.Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?Yes: at golf it rhymes withÃ shutting.Respite, spite, consent, resent.Liable, butÃ Parliament.SevenÃ is right, but so isÃ even,Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,Monkey, donkey, clerkÃ andÃ jerk,Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.AÃ ofÃ valour, vapid vapour,SÃ ofÃ newsÃ (compareÃ newspaper),GÃ ofÃ gibbet, gibbon, gist,IÃ ofÃ antichristÃ andÃ grist,DifferÃ likeÃ diverseÃ andÃ divers,Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers. Once, butÃ nonce, toll, doll, butÃ roll,Polish, Polish, pollÃ andÃ poll.Pronunciationthink ofÃ Psyche!-Is a paling, stout andÃ spiky.Wont it make you lose your witsWritingÃ groatsÃ and sayingÃ grits?Its a dark abyss or tunnelStrewn with stones likeÃ rowlock, gunwale,Islington, andÃ Isle of Wight,Housewife, verdictÃ andÃ indict.Dont you think so, reader,Ã rather,SayingÃ lather, bather, father?Finally, which rhymes withÃ enough,Though, through, bough, cough, hough,sough, tough?HiccoughÃ has the sound of cup . . .My advice is: give it up! The Chaos by Dr. Gerard Nolst TrenitÃ © first appeared (in a shorter version) in an appendix to his textbookÃ Drop Your Foreign Accent, published in 1920.