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The Travails of English...

zozo

Member
Joined
16 Apr 2015
Messages
8,636
Location
Netherlands
I more often write English with the help of a decent grammar checker than I speak it. Nowadays I only occasionally speak English and while reading the poem below "Out Loud" I couldn't help laughing about myself almost breaking my tongue a few times and having to look up the proper pronounciations. It's a beautiful funny and educative poem and love to share it with you, especially the non-native English speakers.

Give it a go and read it out loud...

The Chaos​

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,

I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.

Tear in eye your dress you'll 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 it's written).

Made has not the sound of bade,
Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With 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 cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.

From "desire": desirable--admirable 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 labyrinth
Gives 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 rime with "darky."

Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward.

And your pronunciation's O.K.,
When you say correctly: croquet.

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 police, and lice.

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,

Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.

Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rime with "shirk it" and "beyond it."

But it is not hard to tell,
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,

Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous, clamour
And enamour rime with hammer.

Pussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.

River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.

Stranger does not rime with anger.
Neither does devour with clangour.

Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt.
Font, front, won't, 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 rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.

Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.

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 rime with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.

Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate.

Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,

Tour, but our and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,

Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.

Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.

Say aver, but ever, fever.
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.

Never guess--it is not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.

Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie,

Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging,

Ear but earn, and wear and bear
Do not rime with here, but ere.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,

Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk,
Asp, 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, like rowlock, gunwale,

Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!

Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?

Finally: which rimes with "enough"
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?

Hiccough has the sound of "cup."
My advice is--give it up!

by Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenité aka Charivarius (1870-1946)

Coming to think of it, you English people have quite a lot on your minds to remember, with all those words almost written the same but having different pronounce.
💪 Respect!!
 
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Coming to think of it, you English people have quite a lot on your minds to remember, with all those words almost written the same but having different pronounce.
💪 Respect!!

You'll find plenty of English people who won't be able to pronounce half the words in that poem! Then you've got whole load of words that are pronounced differently depending on where in the country you're from (I'm looking at you Southener's randomly inserting 'r's in words)! 😂
 
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English is weird. I didn't find it particularly hard to read, but I know I'm reading/recognising them as whole words not phonics patterns. I definately remember as a kid (that read a lot) knowing words that I had no idea how they were pronounced. My nieces are primary school and trying to teach reading, first one timed it just right for covid home school - you realise how much of English is rules that apply sometimes and not others and that you don't explicitely know them just have absorbed them at some point. This week's discussion was on whether you doubled the last letter when adding the suffix 'ing' and there are about six rules just for deciding that, which I probably get right 90% of the time when writing but couldn't list without googling.
 
That is funny Marcel, and highlights just how mad a language English is, with rules that apply but often don’t. I pity any non-native speaker trying to learn it, even other Indo-European speakers for whom it’s supposedly easier to learn.

I still struggle with it despite it being my native tongue and having a farther who started out as an English teacher. Added to which it is constantly evolving and stealing and incorporating words and phrases from other languages.
 
No wonder l can't help the granddaughter with her spellings ,if l don't say it how she's taught ,l get the l know nothing look😂
 
That is funny Marcel, and highlights just how mad a language English is, with rules that apply but often don’t. I pity any non-native speaker trying to learn it, even other Indo-European speakers for whom it’s supposedly easier to learn.

I still struggle with it despite it being my native tongue and having a farther who started out as an English teacher. Added to which it is constantly evolving and stealing and incorporating words and phrases from other languages.
It's more challenging than it's mad I kinda see the beauty of its silliness and can have a laugh too. But it's indeed curious how this ever could have developed in such a way. After all, there must have been a bunch of linguists involved coming to agree that this should be standardized like this. How do you come up with something like this while studying linguistics? I guess it all happened after the great vowel shift when the French mingled with the Eald English Western Germanic and the linguists probably were trying to give English some Artistic French Cachet.

Similar things happened in my native language, not so long ago and why you still call it Dutch is because it was and still is a German (Deutsch) dialect. Back in the day German (Deutsch) and Dutch were about the same and mutually intelligible. However, the Dutch linguist wanted to get rid of this Duitsch idea and develop a strictly Dutch language we call Netherlands nowadays. So they invented the silly term Germanism to create it deleted many German loan-translation and invented new Germanic words with synonyms sounding completely different but saying the same. All this destroyed the mutual intelligibility with German and nowadays we both still speak Germanic but hardly can understand each other in less than 100 years. And then they come up with the wonderful idea to open the borders again... Now that's mad...

And then imagine linguists at that level are highly educated people. But in a way they all seem to be nutty professors or something.
 
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Hi all,
English is weird. I didn't find it particularly hard to read, but I know I'm reading/recognising them as whole words not phonics patterns
It is, it was only when I came to words I wasn't familiar with that I began to realise just how weird English pronunciation is.
That is funny Marcel, and highlights just how mad a language English is, with rules that apply but often don’t. I pity any non-native speaker trying to learn it, even other Indo-European speakers for whom it’s supposedly easier to learn.
Back to <"Proto-Indo-European language - Wikipedia"> and the Brothers Grimm <"Linguistics and the Brothers Grimm">?
I'm looking at you Southener's randomly inserting 'r's in words
What do you mean? It is "Barf", (not "Baath") for both city ("Bath") and washing area ("Bathroom"), how could it be anything different?
I was going to do one of the kit in the analytical lab. but I'll have to get some-one else to front them, because I look like a gargoyle and sound like a cockney market trader.

cheers Darrel
 
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