English Pronunciation Makes No Sense!

Apparently, if you can pronounce correctly every word in the following poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world… and after having just read the entire poem aloud, I believe it!  Starting off is remarkably torturous* but once you get a bit of a rhythm going, it’s not so bad.

english pronunciation no sense difficult
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.
Fe0ffer 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

*After trying the verses, the meme claims this Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud!

Common European Language

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as “Euro-English”.

In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favour of “k”. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome “ph” will be replaced with “f”. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent “e” in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as
replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”.

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

english to german

Happy Australia Day

We’ve never made a big fuss of Australia Day in our house.  Don’t want to get dragged into the Discovery of the Country vs Invasion Day debate.  Don’t always go in for big parties or BBQs to mark the occasion … but always love the long weekend and an opportunity to hang out with family.

When I was a kid I think we spent plenty of Australia Day weekends hanging out at Straddie doing very Australian things – fishing, swimming in the surf, building sandcastles and going 4WDing up the beach.  I don’t really get to do a lot of these things anymore with my stupid chronic back pain which is sad because it means my son has never been fishing!

But Mr K saw this on the front page of news.com.au this morning and even though Australia has heaps of amazing wildlife, otters aren’t among them.  Love this image  🙂

Happy Australia Day however you’re spending it, I hope you’re spending it with the people that you love.

australian otters news.com.au

PS:  Otters are totally cool!


G’Day Mate!

I inadvertently (and very oddly for me) used the word ‘mate’ in an email to a friend yesterday. As in, ‘Why don’t you ask your mate Charlie to do blah for you?’

‘So what?’, you might be thinking.

Well, this is really out of character for me and I have no earthly idea why I wrote it.  ‘Mate’ doesn’t figure largely in my vocabulary, in fact I rarely say it at all.  Correction… I NEVER say ‘mate’!  I don’t call people ‘mate’ and even find it somewhat grating when other people call me ‘mate’ (depending on who it is).  And this in spite of my being Australian, and the inherent cultural expectation that tends to infer – ie:  Aussies are presumed to call everyone ‘mate’ after five minutes acquaintance or even less if engaged in a customer service encounters involving cars, carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing, electrical work, hardware and/or yard or home maintenance.

aussie lingo slang jargon australian language

If I do inadvertently call someone ‘mate’, it’s usually in response to someone who has called me ‘mate’, and even then it come off the tongue in an uneasy and unfamiliar manner so as to feel forced and false.  I’m also not one to say ‘fair dinkum’ or ‘strewth’ or ‘you bewdy’ or ‘goodonya’ with any regularity.  It alarms me somewhat that the stereotypical Aussie is anticipated and expected to speak thus.

For the record, I don’t care if all this makes me sound like a the most dreadful snob.  I have a decent vocabulary and I regularly put it to gainful employment.  It’s probably why, when I travel overseas, no one ever takes me for Australian … except on one rare occasion in Tijuana, Mexico, when the roadside spruikers kept calling me ‘Hey Aussie, hey Aussie! Mate, come over here!’  Took me a little while to figure out that my Billabong backpack and my Mr Zogs Sex Wax t-shirt were probably giving me away… they were so annoying even for just that one day, that I ended up responding with, ‘Pardon monsieur, je ne vous comprends pas!’ and they eventually left me alone with rather confused looks on their faces.

But most of the time when I travel I get taken for English… I’ve sat in a Kensington High Street coffee shop and been asked if I lived locally…  I’ve been in Italy and asked where in the UK I am from… I have been in Turkey and been asked if I’m German – okay that one was more based on the blonde hair blue eyed appearance and my inability to speak Turkish, rather than my speech patterns and accent, but the point stands.  No one ever takes me for an Aussie.  And I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

Because while I am proud to be Australian and feel eternally grateful for having been born in such a wonderful country… I just don’t identify with the cultural stereotypes that we’ve been lumped with.  You know the ones… they’re the stereotypes that Paul Hogan, Pauline Hanson Steve Irwin and Kath & Kim et al., have been solidifying for decades. God, even our current Prime Minister the Honourable Ms Gillard has a terrible speaking voice!

aussie sheila slang jargon g'day mateaussie man lingo jargon slangI can’t tell you how much this shit irks me and how I find it really embarrassing even.

It doesn’t help that many Aussies play it up when they’re overseas thinking it’s cute or amusing and enjoy the attention they get from bunging on the slang when they choose to further cement the idea that all ‘Stralyans (Note: ‘Stralyans not Australians) speak like this!

To my mind the only genuine and valid reason for hamming up how Australian you are while overseas, is in to ensure you’re not mistaken for an American!  Because as we all know… they’re not as globally popular as they’d like to think they are.  Even travelling Americans have been known to attempt to deploy this technique by claiming to be Canadian!

No. I make no apologies for my vocabulary and it’s decided lack of Aussie flavour.  It was many years ago that I decided I could live with being called a ‘walking dictionary’ (a frequent taunt since primary school for crying out loud) which I endured simply because I was a strong reader and therefore capable of stringing together coherent and cogent sentences from an unusually young age.  I am so unapologetic for my propensity towards using the most appropriate language I am capable of employing in any given situation, that I’ve been working hard to instill the same in my son since he too, was quite young.

So yes.  I’m a language snob. Sue me.  On this count, I’m totally prepared to own it and totally proud to wear it and don’t give a fats rats that people don’t immediate pick me for an Australian when I travel!