Here’s a more complicated exercise. (Hopefully I haven’t missed anything too obvious.) This is a poem that’s used to show off the irregularity of English spelling, so with luck, it should fall completely flat when spelled socially. I’ll start with the ordinary spelling to act as a touchstone.
Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word. Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say — said, pay — paid, laid but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
Missiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.
From “desire”: desirable —
admirable from “admire”,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
Gertrude, German, wind and wind,
Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind,
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
Peter, petrol and patrol?
Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Discount, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward,
Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Is your R correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
Buoyant, minute, but minute.
Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?
Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
Rabies, but lullabies.
Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
You’ll envelop lists, I hope,
In a linen envelope.
Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
To abjure, to perjure. Sheik
Does not sound like Czech but ache.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed but vowed.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover.
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice,
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,
Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
But it is not hard to tell
Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
Has the A of drachm and hammer.
Pussy, hussy and possess,
Desert, but desert, address.
Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,
Cow, but Cowper, some and home.
“Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker”,
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor”,
Making, it is sad but true,
In bravado, much ado.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.
Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.
Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
Mind! Meandering but mean,
Valentine and magazine.
And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,
Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
Tier (one who ties), but tier.
Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
Prison, bison, treasure trove,
Treason, hover, cover, cove,
Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.
Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet, buffet;
Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.
Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
Mind the Z! (A gentle hint.)
Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don’t mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
Rhyming with the pronoun yours;
Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny rhymes to unicorn,
Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.
No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude compared with proud
Is no better than McLeod.
But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
Troll and trolley, realm and ream,
Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.
Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
But you’re not supposed to say
Piquet rhymes with sobriquet. Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
When for Portsmouth I had booked!
Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
Acquiesce, and obsequies.
Please don’t monkey with the geyser,
Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
Rather say in accents pure:
Nature, stature and mature.
Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.
The Th will surely trouble you
More than R, Ch or W.
Say then these phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.
Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget ’em —
Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,
Lighten your anxiety.
The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight — you see it;
With and forthwith, one has voice,
One has not, you make your choice.
Shoes, goes, does*. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,
Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry fury, bury,
Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,
Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.
Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners
Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
Puisne, truism, use, to use?
Though the difference seems little, We say actual, but victual,
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,
Put, nut, granite, and unite.
Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, senate, but sedate. Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific;
Tour, but our, dour, succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
Bona fide, alibi
Gyrate, dowry and awry.
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian, Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with ally; yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess — it is not safe,
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf. Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
Face, but preface, then grimace,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass. Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
Do not rhyme with here but heir.
Mind the O of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
With the sound of saw and sauce;
Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.
Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
Respite, spite, consent, resent.
Liable, but Parliament. Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.
A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
I of antichrist and grist,
Differ like diverse and divers, Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
Polish, Polish, poll and poll.
Pronunciation — think of Psyche! —
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
Won’t it make you lose your wits
Writing groats and saying ‘grits’?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington, and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??
Hiccough has the sound of sup…
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!
*No, you’re wrong. This is the plural of doe.
Gerard Nolst Trenité (1922)
And here it is with all the nonsense ironed out and smoothed away. Some aspects of pronunciation have clearly changed: ‘parquet’ does not rhyme with ‘khaki,’ ‘higher’ does not rhyme with ‘Thalia,’ and I’m not convinced that ‘ribald’ rhymes with ‘nibbled,’ though it’s preetty close. And the author tells us that “often may be pronounced as orphan,” which is the lot–cloth split, which we are ignoring. This is obviously a salutary tale for anyone interested in spelling. But is it better now? Of course!
Derest creechoor in creyaishon
Studdeying In‘glish pronunceyaishon,
I wil teech u in mi vers
Soundz like corps, cor, hors and wers.
I wil kepe u, Suzy, bizzy,
Make yor hed widh hete gro dizzy;
Tere in i, yor dres ule tare;
Qwere, fare cere, here mi prare.
Pra, console yor luvving powet,
Make mi cote looc nu, dere, so it!
Just compare hart, here and herd,
Dize and diyet, lord and werd. Sord and sword, retane and Brittane
(Miand dhe latter hou its ritten).
Made haz not dhe sound ov bad,
Sa — ced, pa — pade, lade but plad.
Nou I shoorly wil not plaig u
Widh such werdz az vaig and agu,
But be caerfool hou u speke,
Sa: gush, boosh, stake, streke, brake, bleke,
Preveyous, preshous, fueshaa, viyaa,
Rescipy, pipe, studding-sale, qwire;
Woven, uvven, hou and lo,
Script, recete, shoo, powem, to.
Sa, expecting fraud and trickery:
Dauter, laafter and Terpciccory,
Braanch, raanch, mezelz, topslz, ialz,
Miscialz, cimmileze, revialz.
Wholy, holly, cignal, cining,
Same, exammining, but mining,
Scollar, viccar, and cigar,
Solar, micaa, wor and far.
From “dezire”: dezirabel —
admirabel from “admire”,
Lumber, plummer, beyer, but briyer,
Topsham, broowam, renoun, but none,
Nollej, dun, lone, gon, nun, tone,
Wun, anemmony, Balmoral,
Kichen, lichen, laundry, lorel.
Ghertroode, German, wind and wiand,
Bo, kiand, kindred, cu, mankiand,
Tortois, terqwoiz, shammy-ledher,
Reding, Redding, heedhen, hedher.
Dhis fonettic labbirinth
Ghivz mos, groce, brooc, broach, nianth, plinth.
Hav u evver yet endevvord
Too pronouns reveerd and cevverd,
Demon, lemmon, goole, foul, sole,
Peter, petrol and patrole?
Billet duz not end like balla;
Booca, wollet, mallet, shalla.
Blud and flud ar not like foode,
Nor iz moald like shood and wood.
Banqwet iz not neerly parca,
Which exactly riamz widh caaky.
Discount, vicount, lode and braud,
Tooword, too forword, too reword,
Riccoashade and croashaying, croca?
Rite! Yor pronunceyaishonz OK.
Rounded, wuinded, greve and civ,
Frend and feend, alive and liv.
Iz yor R correct in hiyer?
Keets ascerts it riamz Thaleyaa.
Hu, but hug, and hood, but hoote,
Boiyant, minnute, but minute.
Sa abcishon widh precizhon,
Nou: pozishon and tranzishon;
Wood it tally widh mi rime
If I menshond parradime?
Toopens, threpens, teze ar ezy,
But cece, crece, grece and grecy?
Cornice, nice, valeze, revize,
Rabeze, but lullabize.
Ov such puzling werdz az nauzhous,
Riming wel widh caushous, torshous,
Ule envellop lists, I hope,
In a linnen envelope.
Wood u like sum mor? Ule hav it!
Affidavit, David, davvit.
Too abjoor, too perjoor. Shake
Duz not sound like Chec but ake.
Libberty, liabrary, heve and hevven,
Raichel, lokh, muistaash, elevven.
We sa hallode, but alloud,
Pepel, leppard, tode but voud.
Marc dhe differens, morover,
Betwene moover, pluvver, Dover.
Leechez, brichez, wize, precice,
Challice, but polece and lice,
Cammel, cunstabel, unstabel,
Principel, discipel, label.
Pettal, penal, and canal,
Wate, cermize, plat, prommice, pal,
Sute, swete, roowin. Cerkit, conjoowit
Rime widh “sherc it” and “beyond it”,
But it iz not hard too tel
Whi its paul, maul, but Pal Mal.
Muscel, muscular, jale, iarn,
Timber, climer, bulleyon, liyon,
Werm and storm, shez, cayos, chare,
Cennator, spectator, mayor,
Ivy, privvy, famous; clammor
Haz dhe A ov dracm and hammer.
Pooscy, huscy and pozzes,
Dezert, but dezzert, adres.
Golf, woolf, countenans, leftennants
Hoist in lu ov flagz left pennants.
Cooreyer, corcher, toome, bom, come,
Cou, but Cooper, sum and home.
“Soalder, soalger! Blud iz thicker”,
Qwoath he, “dhan licyer or liccor”,
Making, it iz sad but troo,
In bravaado, much adoo.
Strain‘ger duz not rime widh an‘gher,
Niadher duz devour widh clan‘gor.
Pilot, pivvot, gaunt, but aant,
Font, frunt, woant, wunt, grand and graant.
Arcenic, speciffic, cenic,
Rellic, rettoric, higenic.
Goozberry, gooce, and cloze, but cloce,
Parradice, rize, roze, and doce.
Sa inva, na, but inveeghel,
Make dhe latter rime widh eeghel.
Miand! Meyandeuring but mene,
Vallentine and maggazene.
And I bet u, dere, a penny,
U sa manny-(foald) like menny,
Which iz rong. Sa rapeyer, peyer,
Tiyer (wun whoo tize), but tere.
Arch, arcain‘gel; pra, duz aring
Rime widh herring or widh steuring?
Prizzon, bison, trezhoor trove,
Trezon, hovver, cuvver, cove,
Perceverans, cevverans. Ribbald
Riamz (but pibauld duznt) widh nibld.
Feton, peyan, nat, gat, nau,
Lene, cikic, shon, bone, pshau.
Doant be doun, mi one, but ruf it,
And distin‘gwish buffa, buffet;
Broode, stood, roofe, rooc, scoole, wool, boone,
Wooster, Bolin, too impune.
Sa in soundz correct and sterling
Hers, here, harken, yere and yeerling.
Evil, devvil, metsotint,
Miand dhe Z! (A gentel hint.)
Nou u nede not pa attenshon
Too such soundz az I doant menshon,
Soundz like porz, pauz, porz and pauz,
Riming widh dhe pronoun yorz;
Nor ar propper naimz inclooded,
Dho I often herd, az u did,
Funny riamz too unicorn,
Yes, u no dhem, Vaun and Straun.
No, mi maden, coi and cumly,
I doant wunt too speke ov Chumly.
No. Yet Froode compaerd widh proud
Iz no better dhan McLoud.
But miand trivveyal and viyal,
Tripod, meenyal, deniyal,
Trol and trolly, relm and reme,
Skedjoole, mischefe, skizm, and skeme.
Argil, gil, Arghile, ghil. Shoorly
Ma be made too rime widh Raaly,
But yor not suppoazd too sa
Peca riamz widh sobrica. Had dhis invalid invallid
Werthles doccuments? Hou pallid,
Hou uncuith he, couchant, looct,
When for Portsmouth I had booct!
Zuce, Theebz, Thailz, Afrodity,
Parramor, enammord, flity,
Aqweyes, and obceqweze.
Pleze doant munky widh dhe ghizer,
Doant pele taterz widh mi razor,
Raadher sa in axents pure:
Naichoor, stachoor and maichoor.
Piyous, impeyous, lim, clime, glumly,
Wersted, woosted, crumbly, dumly,
Conker, conqwest, vaaz, faze, fan,
Won, cedan and artizan.
Dhe Th wil shoorly trubbel u
Mor dhan R, Ch or W.
Sa dhen dheze fonettic gemz:
Tommas, time, Terezaa, Temz.
Tompsun, Chattam, Woltham, Strettam,
Dhare ar mor but I forghet em —
Wate! Ive got it: Antony,
Liten yor anxiyety.
Dhe arcayic werd aulbeyit
Duz not rime widh ate — u ce it;
Widh and forthwith, wun haz vois,
Wun haz not, u make yor chois.
Shooze, goze, doze*. Nou ferst sa: fin‘gher;
Dhen sa: cinger, gin‘ger, lin‘gher.
Reyal, zele, move, gauz and gage,
Marrage, foleyage, miraazh, age,
Hero, herron, qwery, verry,
Parry, taary fury, berry,
Dust, lost, poast, and duth, cloth, loath,
Jobe, Job, blossom, boozzom, oath.
Fau, oppugnant, kene oppunerz,
Bouwing, bowing, banjo-choonerz
Home u no, but noze, canooze,
Puny, troowizm, uce, too uze?
Dho dhe differens ceemz littel, We sa acchoowal, but vittel,
Cete, swet, chaist, caast, La, ate, hite,
Poot, nut, grannite, and unite.
Refer duz not rime widh deffer,
Fefer duz, and zeffer, heffer.
Dul, bool, Gefry, Jorj, ate, late,
Hint, piant, cennate, but cedate. Galic, Arrabic, paciffic,
Ciyens, conshens, ciyentific;
Toor, but our, door, succor, for,
Gas, alas, and Arcansau.
Sa manuver, yot and vommit,
Next omit, which differz from it
Bonaa fidy, allibi
Girate, doury and ari.
Ce, ideyaa, ghinny, areyaa,
Saam, Mareyaa, but malareyaa.
Ueth, south, sudhern, clenz and clene,
Doctrine, terpentine, marene.
Compare aleyen widh Italleyan, Dandeliyon widh battalleyon,
Rally widh alli; ya, ye,
I, I, i, i, wha, ke, ke!
Sa aver, but evver, fever,
Niadher, lezhoor, scane, recever.
Nevver ghes — it iz not safe,
We sa caavz, valvz, haaf, but Ralf. Staary, granary, canary,
Crevvice, but device, and ery,
Face, but prefface, dhen grimmace,
Flem, flegmatic, as, glaas, bas. Bace, larj, targhet, gin, ghiv, verging,
Aut, oust, joust, and scour, but skerging;
Ere, but ern; and are and tare
Doo not rime widh here but are.
Miand dhe O ov of and often
Which ma be pronounst az orfan,
Widh dhe sound ov sau and saus;
Aulso soft, lost, cloth and cros.
Poodding, puddel, pootting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it riamz widh shutting.
Respite, spite, concent, rezent.
Liyabel, but Parlament. Cevven iz rite, but so iz even,
Hifen, ruffen, neffu, Steven,
Munky, donky, clarc and gerc,
Asp, graasp, wausp, demane, corc, werc.
A ov vallor, vappid vapor,
S ov nuze (compare nuespaper),
G ov gibbet, ghibbon, gist,
I ov anticriast and grist,
Differ like divers and diverz, Rivverz, striverz, shivverz, fiverz.
Wuns, but nons, tole, dol, but role,
Pollish, Polish, pol and pole.
Pronunceyaishon — thinc ov Ciky! —
Iz a paling, stout and spiky.
Woant it make u looze yor wits
Riting groats and saying grits?
Its a darc abis or tunnel
Stroone widh stoanz like roloc, gunnel,
Izlingtun, and Ile ov Wite,
Houswife, verdict and indite.
Doant u thinc so, reder, raadher,
Saying laadher, baidher, faadher?
Finally, which riamz widh enuf,
Dho, throo, bou, cof, hoc, sou, tuf??
Hiccup haz dhe sound ov sup…
Mi advice iz: GHIV IT UP!
*No, yor rong. Dhis iz dhe plooral ov do.
Gerrard Nolst Trennita (1922)