by Lawrence J. J. Leonard
The following appears in The Chaos by poet Gerard Nolst Trenité, The Netherlands, (1870-1946), while using a pseudonym, Charivarius, to assist with “Engelsche uitspraakoefeningen.”
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, Suzy, busy.
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye your dress you’ll tear.
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
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).
Made has not the sound of bade.
Say said, pay-paid, but plaid, laid.
Now I surely will not plague you
with such words as vague and ague.
But be careful how you speak,
say break, steak, but bleak and streak.
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
pipe, snipe, recipe and choir.
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
daughter, laughter and Terpsichore.
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles.
exiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing.
Thames, examining, combining.
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
solar, mica, war, and far.
Desirable from “desire” — admirable from “admire.”
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier.
Chatham, brougham, renown, but known.
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,
One, anemone. Balmoral.
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
Gertrude, German, wind, and mind.
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,
tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
reading, reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
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 is said to rime with “darky.”
Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward
and your pronunciation’s okay,
when you say correctly: croquet.
Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve,
friend and fiend, alive, and live,
liberty, library, heave, and heaven,
Rachel, ache, 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, jail, iron,
timber, climber, bullion, lion.
More to come…
This makes your cranial CAT scan light up, right?
Copyright © 1960-2015 Lawrence J. J. Leonard All rights reserved.