December 3, 2008
If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will bespeaking English better than 90% of the native
English speakers in theworld. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months ofhard labour to
reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.
Dearest creature in creation,Study English pronunciation.I will teach you in my verseSounds 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 youWith 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
OKAY 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 tearDo 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!!!
-- B. Shaw