English pronunciation

The Chaos

Dearest creature in Creation,
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
It will keep you, Susy, 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, laid, but plaid.
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, fuschia, 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, nieasles, topsails, aisles;
Exiles, kimiles, reviles;
Wholly, holly; signal, signing;
Thames, examining, combining;
Scholar, vicar and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.
From "desire" desirable - admirable from "admire";
Lumber, plumber; bier, but brier;
Chatham, brougham; renown, but known,
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,
One, anernone; 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 sound like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should or would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with"khaki".
Viscous, viscount; load and broad;
Foward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's O.K.,
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;
Potal, penal and canal;
Wait,surmise, plait, promise, pal.
Suit, suite, ruin; circuit, conduit
Rime 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
And enamour rime with "hammer".
Pussy, hussy and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.
Golf, wolf; countenance; lieutenants
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
River, rival; tomb, bomb, comb;
Doll and roll and some and home,
Stranger does not rime with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Soul, but foul and gaunt, but aunt;
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and, grant.
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then: singer, ginger, linger.
Roal, zoal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
Query does not rime with "very",
Nor does fury sound like' bury'
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth,
Job, job, blossom, bosom, oath.
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 rime with "deafer",
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer,
Dull, bull; Geoffrey, George; ate, late;
Hint, pint; senate, but sedate;
Scenic, Arabic, pacific;
Science, conscience, scientific.
Tour, but our and succour, four;
Gas, alas, and Arkansas!
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria;
)'outh, south, southern; cleanse and clean;
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.
Sally 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!
Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie.
Face, but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass;
Large, but target, gin, give, verging;
Ought, out joust and scour, but scourging.
Far, but earn; and wear and bear
Do not rime with "here", but "ore".
Seven is right,.but so is even;
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen;
Monkey, donkey; clerk and jerk;
Asp, grasp, wasp; and cork and work.
Pronunciation '- think of psyche! -
In a paling stout and spikey;
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing "grouts" and saying groats (grits)?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale.
Is1ington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!
Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally: which rimes with "enough",
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or trough?
Hiccough has the sound of "cup"......................
My advice is: give it up


OUR STRANGE LANGUAGE
by E.L. Sabin

When the English tongue we speak,
Why is "break" not rhymed with "freak"?
Will you tell me why it's true,
We say "sew" but likewise "few",
And the fashioner of verse
Cannot cap his "horse" with "worse"?
"Beard" sounds not the same as "heard",
"Cord" is different from "word";
"Cow" is cow but "low" is low,
"Shoe" is never rhymed with "foe";
Think of "hose" and "dose" and "lose",
And of "goose" and also "choose";
Think of "tomb" and "bomb" and "comb",
"Doll" and "roll" and "some" and "home",
And since "pay" is rhymed with "say",
Why not "paid" and "said" I pray?
We have "blood" and "food" and "good",
"Mould" is not pronounced like "could";
Wherefore "done" but "gone" and "lone"?
Is there any reason known?
No in short, it seems to me
Sound and letters disagree.

from: Practical Rules for Pronounciation, arranged by C. Heyman, Teacher of English in the Haarlem H.B.S. Third Edition; probably around 1910 (slightly adapted)


I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, 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,
And 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 hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Why man alive!
I'd learned to talk it when I was five,

And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn't learned at fifty-five!


The bandage was wound round the wound
The farm was used to produce produce
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse
We must polish the Polish furniture
He could lead if he would get the lead out
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present
A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum
When shot at the dove dove into the bushes
I did not object to the object
The insurance was invalid for the invalid
There was a row among the oaesmen about how to row
They were too close to the door to close it
The buck does funny things when the does are present
A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line
To help with planting the farmer taught his sow to sow
The wind was too strong to wind the sail
After a number of injections my jaw got number
Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

My name is GHOT
To be pronounced as FISH:
GH as in laugh
O as in women
and T as in nation

Actually it is not possible to pronounce the name GHOT:

GH as in though
O as in people
T as in listen

The combination ough can be pronounced in fourteen different ways:
1. awe: thought, bought, fought, brought, ought, sought, nought, wrought
2. uff: enough, rough, tough, slough, Clough, chough
3. ooh: through, slough
4. oh: though, although, dough, doughnut, broughm, Ough, furlough, Greenough, thorough
5. off: cough, trough
6. ow: bough, plough, sough
7. ou: drought, doughty, Stoughton
8. uh: Scarborough, borough, thorough (alt), thoroughbred, Macdonough, Poughkeepsie
9. up: hiccoughed
10. oth: trough (alt)
11. ock: lough, hough
12. oc[h] (aspirated): lough
13. ahf: Gough
14. og: Coughlin (also #5)
The following sentence contains them all:
Rough-coated(2), dough-faced(4), thoughtful(1) ploughman(6) John Gough(13) strode through(3) the streets of Loughborough(2+8); after falling into a slough(2) on Coughlin(14) road near the lough(12) (dry due to drought)(7), he coughed(5) and hiccoughed(9), then checked his horse's houghs(11)and washed up in a trough(10).

seven ways to pronounce the combination augh:
1. awe: aught, caught, daughter, distraught, faugh, fraught, haughty, naught, onslaught, usquebaugh
5. off: Laughlin
11. ock: haugh(=a corner of land), saugh(=sallow)
13. ahf: draught, laugh
15. ack: kiaugh, saugh (alt)
16: ugh: Taughanok
17: ah: usquebaugh(= whiskey) (alt)
The following sentence contains them all: Saugh-faced(15), haughty (1)John Laughlin(5), from a haugh(11) by Taughanock(16) Falls, had a merry laugh(13) when he'd been into the usquebaugh.(17)


12 Ways to pronounce -ough
From an English newspaper in the 1940s (adapted):
A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman, called Ayscough (pronounced Askew), slapped his horse on the hough (hock) as he rode through the streets of Willsborough, coughing and hiccoughing thoughtfully, while the wind was soughing (Oxford Dictionary 'sooching') through the lough."

(there may be more variants: aren't there other ways of pronouncing -borough? )

It will be difficult for a computer to recognize speech in cases like these:

It's easy to recognise speech is not easily distinguished from It's easy to wreck a nice peach

How can you tell a phone from a submarine? / How can you telephone from a submarine?

It makes us enter / It makes a centre

painted oar / paint a door

we seem able / we see Mable

Black Sabbath have been accused of encouraging people to commit suicide by singing: "I tell you to end your life" They claim they sang: "I tell you to enjoy life!"

How to acquire an upperclass British pronunciation

(from The Queen's English by Sir Vere Brayne d'Hemmidge & Lady Mayna Brayne d'Hemmidge) With teeth clenched and stiff upperlip say loudly and clearly:

Eggs-queues may;Thin cue;Water nayce dawg!; Wart ease thah dawgs neem? ;Dior-calm-hair-orphan?

Ay-merry-ken eggs-prayers

Gawd sieve ah grey shahs quin,
Lawng leave ah no bull quin.

bawth rrm ; shire ; tiles

brick-fist, sahpah

Mary crease-mice; Praws-praws gnu yah;

Scawtland ;Jar-money ;Whore-lend ; Beel-jahm ; Yawn-nated Steet-sawvay-merry-car; Where's tin-dears; Mick-sick-oh; Horse-trail-ear; Paw-tugle; Tah-care; Ticks-arse;Floor-ridder;Kelly-fawn-yah;Knee-auk; May-emmy;Gnaw-weir;Jeer-brawl-tar;Horse-trail-ear

Ay-merry-ken eggs-prayers

Gawd sieve ah grey shahs quin,
Lawng leave ah no bull quin.

knee-pulls; VNR; Airthins; Toe-cure ;Bar-lean; Bjor-daw-pissed

Ear-dawl feet-lah; Railing Stains; May-kill jix-horn;Frenc-sah-naught-rah; Elbah-tain-stain; Ged-orf-here

Click here to see what you have just said

Now that you have practised this you are ready for the following tale:

Worns ay pornay tame, thah wores ay lear-till ghel end hah neem wores Galed-ear-lawks. Worn dear, ears sheer ren Ian thah wards, sheer kem earcraws ay pree-teah caught-itch. Thah daw awv thah caught-itch wores airpin end sheer dear-sayed-dead taw gay Ian-sayed end hevvah lawk rind. Wart ay knot-ear ghel sheer wores! Shen-tarred end spayed ay teable awl rid-ear sit faw Brie-ache-fawst, weirth threah pleats awv poor-itch ay-porn eat. Galed-ear-lawks set dine end stawtid taw ate frawm thah beer-ghist pleat awv poor-itch.'These poor-itch ease taw hawt end taw lahm-pear,' sheer sid taw hah-sylph.Sue seeing, sheer set dine Ian frahn-tawv theh meed-ill saisd pleat end caw-minced taw ate thet.'These poor-itch ease taw kaled end taw saul-tear,' sheer krayed. Galed-ear-lawks thin set dine beefah theh smol-est pleat, peaked ahp theh spawn end hed ay mythe-fall.'These poor-itch ease jars treat,' sheer eeks-clearmd hair-pully, end sheer pru-see-dead taw it eat awl ahp.Win sheer hed fear-nearshd, sheer wores vireh tayed end claimed theh stars Ilan awdah tev ay wrist.Ahp stars sheer fained threah bids. Thah wores ay lawj bid, ay meed-ill saised bid end ay leetle bear-beer bid. Galed-ear-lawks lee dine awn thah beeg bid fast.'These bid ease taw whored,' sheer krayed, end trayed theh meed-ill saisd bid.'These bid ease taw sawft,' sheer acks-pause-tior-litred, end wint Ava taw theh leetle bear-beer bid. Sheer lee dine awn eat end smaled, fah sheer wores sah- praised.'These bear-beer bid ease jars treat,' sheer shited lied-leh, end eno tame sheer fill faw-store slip.Jarst thin, thah threah bahs, whore wear theh rill anus awv theh caught-itch ree-tahned frawm in ahlay more-kneeing cawn-steet-yaw-shone-ill Ian theh faw-wrist. Thee worry-gawsd et wart thee fained.'Whores bin itting may poor-itch?' yeild deadie bah.'Psalm-worns bin itting may poor-itch taw,' sid mah-meah bah Ian ar airs-mint.'Psalm-worns bin itting may poor-itch taw,' krayed leetle bear-beer bah, 'end thev ittin eat awl ahp.' Ay T.R. ren dine he's fees.'Will seer ay-bite these,' said deadie bah, reecing farther stars. 'Tharn-traw-door me steal beer Ian ah hice. Calm awn!' here shited, end wren ahp theh stars, fall-laid bay he's waif end jailed.Thee med saachi dean thet Galed-ear-lawks hard thim end woe-carp. Sheer ren Ava taw theh wheen-day, jarmt ite end deshed awf Ian-taw the borschs, whipping end kraying. Galed-ear-lawks nivver wint bek Ian taw thah wards ay gayne, bart steed clues taw hah mah-meah end hah deadie, end leaved hair-pully ivvah awftah.

Click here for the translation.

Another fairy-tale, which only makes sense if you read it aloud with an American accent.

Ladle Rat Rotten Hut.

Wants pawn term, dare worsed ladle gull hoe lift wetter murder inner ladle cordage, honor itch offer lodge, dock, florist.' Disk ladle orphan worry putty ladle rat cluck wetter ladle rat hut, an fur disk raisin pimple colder Ladle Rat Rotten Hut. Wan moaning, Ladle Rat Rotten Hut's murder colder inset."Ladle Rat Rotten Hut, heresy ladle basking winsome burden barter an shirker cockles. Tick disk ladle basking tutor cordage offer groin-murder how lifts honor udder site offer florist. Shaker lake! Dun stopper laundry wrote. Dun stopper peck floors. Dun daily-doily inner florist, an yonder norm sorghum-stenches, dun,,stopper torque wet strainers !" "Hoe cake, murder," resplendent Ladle Rat Rotten Hut an tickle ladle basking an stuttered oft. Honor Wrote, tutor cordage offer groin-rnurder, Ladle Rat Rotten Hut mitten.anomalous woof. "Wail, wail, wail" set disk wicket woof. "Evanescent Ladle Rat Rotten Hut! Wares are putty ladle gull goring wizard ladle basking?" "Armor goring tumor groin-murder's," reprisal ladle gull. "Grammar's seeking bet. Armor ticking arson burden barter an shirker cockles." "0 hoe! Heifer gnats woke," setter wicket woof, butter taught tomb shelf, "Oil tickle shirt court tutor cordage offer groinmurder. Oil ketchup wetter letter, an den - O bore!" Soda wicket woof tucker shirt court an whinny retched a cordage offer groin-murder, picked inner, wind row, an sore debtor pore oil worming worse lion inner bet. Inner flesh, disk abdominal woof lipped honor bet, paunched honor pore oil worming, an garbled erupt. Den disk ratchet ammonol por honor groin-murder's nut cup an gnat-gun, an curdled ope inner bet. Inner ladle wile, Ladle Rat Rotten Hut a raft attar cordage, an ranker dough ball. "Comb ink, sweat hard", setter wicket woof, disgracing is verse. Ladle Rat Rotten Hut entity bet rum, an stud buyer groin-murder's bet. "O Grammar," crater ladle gull historically. "Water bag icer gut! A nervous sausage bag ice!" "Battered lucky chew whiff, sweat hard," setter bloat-Thursday woof, wetter wicket small honors phase. "O Grammar, water bag noise. A nervous sore suture anomalous prognosis!" Battered small your whiff, doling," whiskered dole woof, ants mouse worse waddling. "O Grammar, water bag mouser gur! A ner vous sore suture bag mouse!" Daze worry on-forget-nut ladle gull's lest warts. Oil offer sodden, caking offer carvers an sprinkling ottor bet, disk woof lipped own Ladle Rat Rotten Hut an garbled erupt.

click to listen to the story read by Vivian Altman(you need Realplayer)

more American Slurvian.

A: Have. "I coulda danced all nigh."
Antidote. A story. "I love your antidote about the time you made dinner for the boss."
Bar. To take temporarily. "May I bar your eraser?
Calvary. A mobile army unit. "At the last minute, the wagon train was saved by the calvary.
Dense. A tooth expert. "Yuck! I have a dense appointment today."
Forced. A large cluster of trees. "Only you can prevent forced fires."
Formally. Earlier. "Today she's a millionaire, but formally she tried to make a living as an EngIish teacher."
Forward. Prefatory remarks by another person. "Who will write the forward to your book?"
Girl. An article of clothing. "She had to work hard to get her girl on."
Granite. Conceded. "Too many people take the good Iife for granite."
Intensive. "for all intensive purposes," "for all intents and purposes."
Lays. The opposite of "gemmen." "Lays and gemmen, I now introduce our guest speaker.
Less. Contraction of "let us." "Less learn more about Slurvian."
Mayan. Possessive pronoun. "What's yours is yours, and what's Mayan is Mayan."
Mere. A reflecting glass. "Mere, mere on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?"
Mince. Unit lasting 60 seconds. "I'll be back in a few mince."
Money. Day after Sunny. "I like Sunny better then Money."
Neck Store. Adjacent. "I'm in love with the girl neck store."
Pain. Giving money. "I'm tired of pain these high prices."
Pal. To locomote a craft on water. It's your turn to pal the canoe."
Pitcher. An image or representation. "As soon as we get the pitcher framed, we'll hang it above the sofa."
Please. Officers of the law. We hafta call the please!"
Sunny. Day before Money. "When Sunny comes, can Money be far behind?"
Torment. A competition. "Mabel and I have entered the bridge torment."
Whore. Inspiring terror. "I love getting scared out of my pants by whore films."
Win. Movement of air. "He was awakened in the mill of the nigh by flashes of lining and gusts of win."
Winner: The cold season. "Many birds fly south for the winner."

What does it say?
Solve the puzzles by saying them out loud, over and over, faster and faster, repeating the phrase, until you "hear" the answer.
If you can't find them move your mouse between the lines
Lawn sand jealous
Los Angeles
Sand tackle laws
Santa Claus
My gulch hoard un
Michael Jordan
Mow bead hick
Moby Dick
Chick he tub an an us
Chiquita Bananas
Aisle oh view
I love you
Caress tougher clump us
Christopher Columbus
Thumb ill key way
The Milky Way
My gulch hoard un
Michael Jordan
Gall licks he
Galaxy
Age ant hub blows heaven
Agent 007
This hound dove muse sick
The Sound of Music
Iím a frayed knot
I'm afraid not
Eiffel Thursday
I feel thirsty
Liver alone....cheese mine!
Leave her alone she's mine
drinkin outa bahls
drinking out of bottles
jus been Nittly
Just been in Italy
Youíre wrong," said Rudolph the Red's wife, "itís definitely snowing."
"How can you argue with me," said Rudolph, "Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear".
Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer
"Jeet jet?"
No, jew?
"Sgo.
"Did you eat yet?" "No, did you?" "Let's go."
Once you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.


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