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Linguistic obstacle courses

March 11th, 2008 · No Comments · Funny

I’ve got a number of friends for whom English is not their first language. I found this little gem of a poem, and being a lazy sod, instead of emailing it to them, I’ll just post it here.

Hints on pronunciation for foreigners
By T.S.W. (slightly updated)
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 work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart
Come, come, I’ve barely made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d mastered it when I was five!

While it’s good fun to mock pronunciation, let’s not forget the challenge of spelling too. I dedicate this one to my lovely proofreader and patient copy editor Conny View definition in a new window, who never fails to catch what the spell checker thinks is just dandy.

Eye halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques for my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it to say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
It’s rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
Eye am shore your pleased two no
It’s letter perfect awl the weigh
My checker tolled me sew.

by Margo Roark.

There’s a lot more to be found at this amusing page at the Spelling Society.

(I found the Spelling Society page indirectly, thanks to Kottke pointing me to Treppenwitz.)

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