English Is Weird...

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K'Tesh

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If you can correctly pronounce every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he'd prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, 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, 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,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt 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, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
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!!!
The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité
 

jqavins

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Two of my favorites are:
Laughter​
Slaughter​
and
No​
Now​
Know​
 

Bat-mite

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I have a mimeograph of an old, anonymous poem that is similar but much shorter. Google comes through:

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, laugh, and through.

And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword
Well done! And now if you wish, perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps,

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead–
For goodness sakes don’t call it deed.

Watch out for meat and great and threat,
They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.

And here is not a match for there,
And dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there’s dose and rose and lose–
Just look them up–and goose and choose,

And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d mastered it when I was five.
 

Nytrunner

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If you can correctly pronounce every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he'd prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.
Source? I keep seeing this poem pop up around social media, usually prefaced by a random statistic like above.
 

K'Tesh

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Found it online... While I'm not 100% about the 90% claim, but it does make sense to me. The poem credit was at the bottom of the post.
 

Nytrunner

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The poem is great, the proliferation of made-up statistics in copypasta just niggles at me
 

K'Tesh

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I'd be willing to bet that the 90% statistic is actually too low.
 

Alan R

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and we never forget that grade-school rule "i before e except after c" because rocket scientists are efficient.
 

boomtube-mk2

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When it comes to spelling and grammar in the English language; for every rule there are three exceptions and for every exception there are three rules.
 

Jimmy

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Its ( possessive )
It's ( it is)
To
Two
Too (also)
Thomas' ( example of possessive for names ending in 's'. Not Thomas's)
 

jqavins

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That last is the opposite of the rule I was taught. The apostrophe after the s is, as I understand things, strictly for when the s is there to form a plural. Hence, some "The horses' hooves could be heard trampling the octopus's tank in James's house."
 

Cape Byron

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The current version of The Guardian Style Guide (and others) declare a possessive apostrophe and corresponding 's' is used after all names ending in 's' unless historical or reverential.

James's shoes

Thomas's socks

Jesus' sandals
 

MikeyDSlagle

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Watch - watched
Catch - caught
Goose - geese
Moose - moose
House - houses
Mouse - mice

Crap like that trips up my daughter. And she of course asks why it is like that. Because our language is weird I tell her.

The one that really got her:
I was telling bedtime stories about some of D&D adventures from years ago. In one adventure we encountered some giants out on some plains. She thought it was amazing that giants could fly planes. That one took some explaining.


"Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do."
 
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Charles_McG

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I've long figured that 'skilly and duff' and 'plum duff' were named by someone who could neither pronounce, nor spell, 'dough'.

Or they could, and they did it on purpose.
 

mjennings

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Yup language is weird and English is a great example. If you really sit and think about it reading and writing are really weird. These shapes corresponds to certain sounds.
 

K'Tesh

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“What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic."

[Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory (1980)]”


― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
 
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Blast it Tom!

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Yes, English can be weird. It can be understood through tough thorough thought, though.

(found soemwhere on the 'net...)
 

K'Tesh

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I will state that for the best designed method of writing has got to be Korean. The writing system was designed, at the order of a king, by scientists. Each character represents a single syllable. There is the initial consonant sound, the vowel sound, and the final consonant sound. Since an initial consonant sound or a final consonant sound are not found in every syllable, there's a mark to indicate that. As such, if you know all the symbols of the consonants and vowels, as well as the way they sound in Korean, you can pronounce every word in the language, even if you don't what the word is.

The remarkable thing is... This system was designed in the 15th Century.
 
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