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Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Entry of 2012 Or English Pronunciation

2011 is already past history and 2012 is just tipping its toe into the calendar. My mind was at a blank on what to write. I guess too much partying. Least people may misunderstood by the word partying... I never drank in my life and so your image of a drunken Jeff, staggering and slurring his words with a glass in hand would be totally off the chart. I was totally sane but having a great time in laughter and sampling morsels of food here and there.

Anyway, a Facebook friend alerted me to this article which I think would be of interest to all those who are learning the English language. It says, if you can pronounce every word of this poem correctly, you are better than 90% of all English native speakers. However, I do think the poem cheated somehow because they have Greek words for the names of Greek Goddesses thrown in. However, they are all accepted in the English language.

It is really a shame that there is no accompanying audio to test how well you stack up against the "standard" pronunciation. Alas, I don't have input audio on my computer system, else I would have made a recording as well. If anyone would care to do one, it will be great!

The main text of the poem appears in the correction box in case for those who cannot access foreign websites. Enjoy exercising your tongue :)

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.

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.
Feoffer 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!!!

English Pronunciation by G. Nolst Trenité

desertjedi 1 hour(s) ago

Wow, I knew English was bad in terms of rules of pronunciation but I didn't realize the extent of the confusion it must create amongst non-English speakers. Well, I guess that's the biggest strike against English. But as I teach my friend English (while she teaches me Russian), I have found some positives: 1) So many words in English are short in length. It's amazing the concepts that you can convey even when limited to words of four letters or less. 2) I'm finding the verb conjugations are often the same across all pronouns with occasional exceptions for he/she or singular vs. plural pronouns. Often I will give her a verb's full conjugation and then realize the verb form never changes!...with the ensuing revelation of...OMG! English is so easy! Maybe this is part of the reason that my friend's progress in English has been superb while I continue to be lost, floundering and generally discouraged with Russian.

Jeff 46 minute(s) ago

I totally agree with you. Too many exceptions in English made it a language too difficult to learn. However, we got it easy when we don't have to distinguish the gender of nouns and choose which verb to use like in French, the myriad of verbial conjugations of other languagues compared to English and of course those pesky of "c", "z", "j", "k combination to produce countless exercises on the tongue. Clicking sounds of some African languages. Chinese on the other hand, has thrown away all tenses, verbial agreements, etc. However their tonal system is a monkey wrench to the ears of non-tonal language speakers. In the end, no language is easy to learn :( We are a complicated bunch of animals.

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