Tuesday 21 September 2010

English for the unwary.

The following pronounciation poem is attributed variously to T S Watt or Richard Krough
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, laugh 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 in brother.
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there’s dose and rose and lose – 
Just look them up – and goose and choose.
And cork and word and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart – 
Come, come I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive,
I’d mastered it when I was five.


  1. Quite a tongue twister. Love it!

  2. Gotta love the English language. So weird, it's wonderful.

  3. A dreadful language indeed. After taking Spanish for two years, it seemed to me we have made the English language dificult for no reason but to drive students crazy.

  4. Great stuff! I can pronounce TS Watt, but how do you say "Richard Krough"? To rhyme with tough or bough or cough or dough?
    My youngest brother started his schooling in Spanish. Three years with no English schooling, and then Mother and Dad started putting him in a Canadian school for September and October, going to Mexico for six months, and putting him back in the Canadian school for May and June. He did fine in everything but English spelling. He insisted English spelling didn't make sense, and of course he was right. Eventually, however, he made himself learn to spell because he wanted to try his hand at writing.

  5. Thank goodness I didn't have to learn it as an adult.

  6. It can be a little bit tough huh? English is my second language.

  7. What a great poem! I am so glad that I actually speak English as I would never be able to learn it!

  8. My husband and I hosted exchange students a few years ago. It was fun explaining the difference between "to", "too" and "two" and other similar words that sound the same but are spelled differently.

  9. wow! pretty neat....love it!

  10. I remember teaching a young boy of nine, to read. His older siblings (4 of them) were all brilliant scholars. Poor Rodney had such a hard time. First I bought him a book that I thought would be interesting "The Wrong Way Whale". Then we worked together for quite a few weeks. I will never forget the look on his face one day after reading the book aloud to his oldest brother. He said with a huge sigh of relief, "I didn't EVER think I was going to learn to read!" That was enough reward for for forty years of teaching. I wonder where he is now and what he is doing.

  11. Really, it's not until you put them all together like that, that you realise just how bad it is.


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