Porcupyn's Blog

September 26, 2007

A Chainmail …

Filed under: Our Languages — Porcupyn @ 3:04 pm

… this might land in an e-mail box near you. πŸ™‚

Just for grins, I tried reading aloud the following passage; after the first few lines, got a word that I pronounced reasonably, then got one that I am sure I missed, then when I got a third one that I was not really sure of, to keep my wits around me, I had to abandon the rest.

My twisted tongue is now in hiding and refuses to come out. πŸ˜‰

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 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!!!


  1. sb, I am feeling wicked, so here’s what I’d do if I were you 😈

    1. Make this a tag.
    2. ASk everyone to tape themselves reading aloud.
    3. Post that.

    If the tagged are half as adventurous as I am, you have a winner in the tagworld! πŸ˜‰ what do u think?

    Comment by rads — September 26, 2007 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  2. Rads:

    I can already see/hear a muser, terri’s mom, and you vying for top honours. Let’s see if D.S. reads this – will serve him right if I were to tag him! πŸ˜‰

    There was a time when I mispronounced chasm (no prizes for guessing how) in front of my then boss! On the other hand, I never was able to get my then officemates to pronounce succinct correctly (as per my link, at least).

    Comment by porcupyn — September 26, 2007 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

  3. tongue t i e d !!
    tongue t i r e d !!

    Comment by neel3 — September 27, 2007 @ 8:45 am | Reply

  4. Neela:

    You should have started off with ‘tongue tried.’ πŸ˜‰

    Comment by porcupyn — September 27, 2007 @ 8:57 am | Reply

  5. sb, It isn’t too bad if you accentuate and pause appropriately.
    So are you making this a tag or not? 😐

    Comment by rads — September 27, 2007 @ 9:15 am | Reply

  6. Rads:

    OK, I tag everyone who reads this comment (other than me!). πŸ˜‰ This is probably the first audio tag of the blogworld!!

    Read (and record) the quoted text in this post – up to the point where you are unsure of the word you just pronounced. Put up the recording on your blog. Let’s all hear you. πŸ™‚

    Comment by porcupyn — September 27, 2007 @ 10:42 am | Reply

  7. see, now this kind of blanket announcement is not going to get any kind of attention. Everyone will just silently read and move on, as the mark of announcement is in the comment! πŸ˜‰

    You first sb, you first put that audio up. πŸ˜€

    Comment by rads — September 27, 2007 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  8. For the record
    I skipped past sward
    Soldiered past ague
    Met my end at Melpomene (damn those Greeks)


    P.S.”Aah bail, mujhe maar,
    Mein ek masochist hoon”
    Someone likes to protest “oh, don’t tag me please”, and yet proceeds to invent new tags.

    Comment by BPuriSKabab — October 1, 2007 @ 8:49 pm | Reply

  9. BPSK – This is such a juicy fun tag done in the spirit of it. Please tell me you agree.. sb’s just being a spoilsport and not following up with my suggestion.

    You need to be creative in making a tag fun. The usual ones are boring, don’t u think?

    Comment by rads — October 2, 2007 @ 9:19 am | Reply

  10. I tried reading the whole thing loud…to the utter dismay and surprise of my wife. It didn’t turn out as bad as expected, but certainly an eye opener….My God, there is so much more English than I knew πŸ˜‰

    I agree with rads, SB should tag this…it is so much more fun than “Do you like apples or grapes?” or “What is the relevance of your blog in today’s World politics?” kinda nonsense.

    SB, we tried…so you can’t/shouldn’t tag us. Find a bunch of new kuri‘s

    Comment by December Stud — October 2, 2007 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

  11. What did one lemming say to the other at cliff’s edge?
    “Interesting view”

    Rads & DS – ummm, no thanks


    Comment by BPuriSKabab — October 2, 2007 @ 4:48 pm | Reply

  12. BPSK, DS – Cmon guys, this is becoming worse than ‘who’s gonna bell the cat’ kinda thing!
    If I did have a mic at home, I’d have long gone done it and tagged a bunch o you! πŸ˜‰

    Comment by rads — October 2, 2007 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

  13. Rads, mics are not expensive at all πŸ˜‰

    Going on a tangent, an this post boast of having max number of comments on SB’s blog?

    Comment by December Stud — October 3, 2007 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  14. DS – Boy, you are getting predictable. I knew you’d come up with that shot on the mic! πŸ˜›

    re comments: I was thinking the very same thing yesterday! ..and to think he’s just sitting there silently chuckling to himself! πŸ˜‰

    Comment by rads — October 3, 2007 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

  15. @Rads – borrowing the title of a recent post, “you can click, can’t you” –


    Comment by BPuriSKabab — October 3, 2007 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  16. “re comments: I was thinking the very same thing yesterday! ..and to think he’s just sitting there silently chuckling to himself!”

    Have you guys ever seen a breakaway in basketball? The one where the entire team (which should really be defending) is on the opposite end of the floor, and their opponents have come in and scored a three pointer on your court? That’s the feeling I am having right now.

    Comment by porcupyn — October 3, 2007 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  17. lol@BPSK – Nice move! Alright, Ive clicked and it’s on its way. You get busy with your mic and pronunciations, coz you’re IT next! πŸ˜›

    SB – Am glad this is entertaining for you. Coz am tagging you and DS after this. πŸ˜‰

    Comment by rads — October 4, 2007 @ 8:02 am | Reply

  18. Rads:

    Who said it was entertaining? πŸ™‚ I said it was as if I were leaving my goalpost unattended and was getting scored upon (and that’s not supposed to be good thing in sports)! πŸ˜‰

    BTW, you could’ve used the same camcorder/camera you recorded munchkin with, and done your spiel while panning Wren and Martin, OED, etc. with the camera. πŸ˜‰

    Comment by porcupyn — October 4, 2007 @ 10:04 am | Reply

  19. sb – oh well, I’d be quite amused if this were happening on my blog! :p
    hmm.. see, now how come such brilliancies hit when it’s directed at others, and not when asked to do one’s own challenge? πŸ˜‰

    Comment by rads — October 4, 2007 @ 10:49 am | Reply

  20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution protects readers and myself.


    Comment by BPuriSKabab — October 4, 2007 @ 6:42 pm | Reply

  21. sigh, where’s everyone’s sense of humor these days!!

    Comment by rads — October 5, 2007 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

  22. Hussshappa! Sustu!

    Comment by shark — October 8, 2007 @ 3:01 am | Reply

  23. Shark:

    What was your faltering point? Stopping point? πŸ™‚


    May be I should do the tag (in a slightly modified format)…


    You mean listeners, not readers, right?

    Comment by porcupyn — October 9, 2007 @ 1:13 pm | Reply

  24. What an absolutely delightful passage! Of course I read it aloud. It’s so much more interesting than those math puzzles going around. I knew I should have been a news reader.

    Comment by terri — October 10, 2007 @ 7:57 pm | Reply

  25. Terri:

    Appreciate your comment about the passage. I am assuming you were serious about reading it aloud, ‘cos when I get around to it, someone will soon tag you …


    Sorry for the delay!

    Comment by porcupyn — October 19, 2007 @ 10:25 am | Reply

  26. sb – take your time, no rush absolutely πŸ™‚

    Comment by rads — October 19, 2007 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  27. […] tag 22 – gotta love english October 4, 2010 by rads This is somewhat of a tag from three years ago, down to the date! […]

    Pingback by tag 22 – gotta love english « tunneling thru' — October 4, 2010 @ 9:27 am | Reply

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