Sunday, 26 September 2010

Hints on English pronunciation

This bints on pronuncition for non-native English speakers has been around for a long time. It seems to be anonymous.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! And now 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' sake 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, or brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there's doze and rose and lose-
Just look them up- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart-
Come, I've hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive!
I'd learned to speak it when I was five!
And yet to write it, the more I sigh,
I'll not learn how 'til the day I die.


  1. I always enjoy coming to CJ's class.
    Learning here is definitely fun.
    I've been spending a great deal of time with my face in particular, one..."The Associated Press Stylebook." If you want to scream at the end of learning about the English language...there's one for you....
    Only I have a better suggestion...
    Run fast. Run far.

  2. That is great. Thanks, Canadian Chickadee

  3. Your poem made me smile:) I'm glad that at least in English I don't have to contend with tones as in the Chinese language!

  4. Well... where I have learnt a lot of my English (in Yorkshire), people do indeed sometimes pronounce "dead" similar to "deed" :-)

  5. Wonderful. I had to look up slough (and I did find two alternative pronounciations according to different meanings) but otherwise I think I would dare read it aloud. Makes me wonder myself, though, how on earth I ever learned...?

  6. When I was having to use my inadequate French recently I was musing on some place names and wondering why the French language couldn't be nice and simple in its pronunciations - just like English!!

    But then which Frenchman was it commented when he came to England that English was just like French pronounced badly?


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