Friday, 12 April 2013


If you think grammar is difficult or listening or even writing, I beg to differ. I believe the most difficult thing in English is pronunciation. How do you read a word? How do get the right sound from the jumble of letters that form the word! It goes without saying that spelling is also affected by this - that's pronunciation in reverse if you think about it!

Even native speakers have difficulties with it. The Americans tried to iron out some of the problems when Noah Webster standardised spelling (1783-84) and it is from this that Websters Standardised dictionaries and thesauruses are based today. In Britain and other countries where English is a native language we prefer to persevere with the anomalies!

This is the first in a series of posts I have planned on this topic and I hope that I will entertain you and give you some clues and tips for better spelling and pronunciation at the same time.

As a learners of English as a foreign language please know that you are not alone in being baffled by spelling and pronunciation. The following poem is an excerpt of a three page whopper poem written by a Dutch man during his exile from The Netherlands during WWII and published in the newspaper 'Vry Nederland'.

The Joy of English Pronunciation
This Phonetic Labyrinth
by George Nolst Trenite

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, copse, horse and worse,

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear 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.

Wholly, holly, signal signing,
Same, examining but mining,
Scholar, vicar, cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.

From ‘desire’: desirable, admirable from ‘admire’,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, some.

One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,
Gertrude, German, wind and wind,
Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition,
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?
Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with enough?
Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough?
Hiccough has the sound of sup!
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

If you want the full version of this ask me! Vocabulary and pronunciation will be provided in the next post!!! Hope you liked it!


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