English is Tough Stuff
We've all cursed written English as capricious and sentenced American
Pronunciation Rules as but half-truths at best. Try your luck at a verse
or two of these.
Read aloud with a friend!
Muli-national personnel at North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters
near Paris found English to be an easy language ... until they tried to pronounce
it. To help them discard an array of accents, the verses below were devised.
After trying them a Frenchman said he'd prefer six months at hard labor to
reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sound slike corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat 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 plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, and aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey and key.
Say aver but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even.
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk.
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!
Dr. Gerald Nolst Trenite (1870-1946), a Dutch observer of English