Fighting English

Dear Reader,

Smiles did not like my Memorial Day post, or at least the song I picked to go with it by Fisher Z – Cruise Missile.

So, let’s focus on a completely different fight – or rather struggle. I am talking about the one with the English language.

Glynsky claims to be the master of English, forget about Shakespeare or your Oxford professor. And Smiles comes in a close second, at least if you believe him.

So, here is a nice challenge to both:

If you can pronounce correctly 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 labor to reading six lines aloud.

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,
lslington 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!!!

I found it here, and converted the image via optical character recognition (OCR) with this handy website,

Let’s hear, how our two Masters of English did. And if you gave it a shot, let us know in the comments, please.

Stay amused,

Engine Room

9 thoughts on “Fighting English

  1. Now, my dear ER, that was an interesting post. Very unusual and informative. English, not being a phonetic language, is often very confusing for foreigners. I have heard some very funny pronunciations on my travels.
    Now off to Maidan. Long live free Ukraine !!!!
    PS. the Druid and I are meeting up in Scotland at the end of June. On the menu will be King Crab legs followed by Wagyu Beef steaks. You, Glynsky and Pete are most welcome !!

  2. ER,
    I’m just catching up with you lot, as thanks to Microsoft dumping support for XP, I have been having some problems lately. Must look into buying a new computer I suppose. Nothing like a forced purchase by a monopoly!

    I guess you are a native American from the comments I’ve read here, so of course you will struggle with the pronuciation of loads of the English (real) language.

    Like Druid I lost the will to live half way through, although reading it was straightforward enough and the pronunciation simple. Didn’t understand what a “Terpsichore” is though!

    Not being a great poem lover, this one especially leaves a lot to be desired, as it basically says nothing. Clever though.

    1. Dear Philippa,

      No need to buy a new PC.
      May I suggest the following:

      1) make a full backup
      2) download Linuxmint from here:
      3) burn the downloaded ISO file onto an empty DVD
      4) reboot computer with DVD in the drive
      5) try Linuxmint as live Operating System (no changes are made to the PC)
      6) If you like it, click install Linuxmint
      7) Copy the backup files into a folder on PC
      8) Continue enjoying your PC with free, open source software.

      Optional: send F*** Y** note to MS

      If you want help, have Glynsky send me your contact details, and I’ll help.


  3. Generous ER,
    Very good of you to offer me this advise and I had a laugh at the message to MS, who I know you love so dearly. XP has worked perfectly well for years and MS aren’t offering anything new to replace it, as apparently Windows 8 is rubbish so it would be 7, which isn’t exactly new.
    Will I als be able to load up various software I use such as Openoffice etc?
    I will look into following your instructions and see where I get, Glynsky has my contact details.
    Thanks sooo much for now.

  4. Like Philippa, Smiles and Druid this was easy – and as it ‘appens I enjoyed it! Jeez am I sad. So many words not used often enough – and I think terpsywotsit is a dancing related word (thats without using a dictionary – I must check later).
    Listen to what he says Philippa – to his credit he has helped me twice with this sort of s++t – though in the Great Crash of 2013 even he was at a loss.
    BTW, if you stick with Windows, I have 7 (having in the past had XP and all the later) and it is excellent – my sister has 8 and absolutely loathes it.

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