English is Tuff Stuff

Dearest creature in creation,
let us study pronunciation.

I will teach you, by means of verse,
sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.

I will keep you, dear Suzy, busy
and make your head with heat grow dizzy.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
bouquet, wallet, mallet or chalet.

Blood and flood are not like food,
nor is mould like should or would.

Viscous versus viscount; load, broad and board;
toward is not like forward or reward.

Now I surely will not plague you
with such words as plaque and ague,

but do 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, and Balmoral,
kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,

Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
enough for indigestion of the cerebral kind.

Your pronunciation is always OK
whenever you correctly say croquet,

rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous, clamor,
and enamour all rhyme with hammer.

Go figure river, rival, tomb,
bomb, comb, doll, roll, some and home,

dust, dost, lost, post, doth, cloth, and loth,
the Book of Job, also knob, bosom and oath.

Consider soul, foul and owl, haunt and aunt,
front, font, wont, won't, want and grant,

liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache and eleven,

mint, pint and senate, as well as sedate,
dull, bull, and George ate dinner at eight,

science, conscience, Arabic and Pacific,
scene, sentience, and scientific,

shoes, goes, and does; now say finger,
and then say singer, ginger and linger,

real, reel, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
marriage, foliage, forage, mirage and age.

Mark words like mover, cover and precise,
clover, wise, chalice, police and lice;

words like camel, constable, unstable,
principle, principal, disciple, edible and label,

worm and storm, chaise, chaos and chair,
employer, senator, spectator and mayor.

Compare dies and diet, heart, beard, and heard,
bought, not and caught, poured, lord and word,

sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter; that's how it's written.)

Compare words like granary, diary, dairy,
canary, crevice, device and aerie;

words like preface, facile, efface,
phlegm, phlegmatic, glass and string bass,

large, target, gin, give and verging,
ought, out and joust, and scour and scourging,

worry and furry; ear and shedding a tear
versus earn, ere, wear and tear, and revere.

Compare words like power, our, tour and four,
as, gas, alas, Arkansas, and bore,

sea, idea, Korea and area,
psalm, Maria, and also malaria,

youth, south and southern, been and bin, clean,
cleanse, doctrine, turpentine, and marine.

Compare alien with the word Italian,
with dandelion and even battalion;

Sally with ally; yea with whey; ye,
Cue, queue, by, bye and buy, eye, aye, and key.

Stranger doesn't sound like banger,
so why does langour sounds like anger?

Query doesn't really rhyme with very,
nor does fury sound like bury.

Refer in no way rhymes with deafer, but
Foeffer does, as do zephyr and heifer.

We say hello, hallowed and allowed,
people and leopard, towed and vowed.

We say aver, but also ever and fever,
neither, leisure, skein and deceiver.

Seven is right, but so are even,
hyphen, toughen, and nephew Stephen.

You can monkey with monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
grasp and wasp, and with cork and work.

Ah, pronunciation: think of the word psyche -
it's full of anomalies and verily spikey

as are words like Islington and the Isle of Wight,
housewife, predict, verdict and indict.

And finally, which word looks like it rhymes with enough?
Is it through, though, plough, dough, cough or cuff?

The end of hiccough is pronounced like cup.
My simple advice is to give it all up!!

[author and source unknown]
(edited by David Van Alstyne)
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