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Someone sent this to me, knowing I love this kind of stuff, and I've decided to use it in next month's AWC newsletter. If anyone tracks down the actual author, I'd be very grateful. :)

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, tough and through;
Well done! And how you wish perhaps
To learn 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 word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart.
Come, come I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Man alive
I mastered it when I was five.

-Author Unknown
mood: cheerful
music: Sesame Street—Fuzzy and Blue (aaagh!! I can't get it out of my head!!)


The full version is quite a bit longer, and is entitled The Chaos by Dutch writer Gerard Nolst Trenité. The first known version of the poem was published around 1920, and it has taken many scholars many years to piece together the whole from parts like the example you have above. It is an excellent thing I use in my English teaching, and the story behind the rediscovery of the poem, along with the poem in its entirety can be found here. And it's well worth a look and an attempt to pronounce aloud! :)


Also, since my class insists I read it aloud to them, after they try a few verses, I make sure to practice it a little now and then! Aside from the few that don't rhyme because of the lack of British accent, I don't do _too_ bad. ;)

If the AWC wants me to recite it at some point, I could do that. As long as they don't laugh at me toooo much. Heehee.

Re: P.S.

Great googly-moogly! I made it less than halfway through before I couldn't stand it anymore!

Re: P.S.

I admit that I had to look up some words. :) My class grills me on these things, and if I happen to not know something, they're brutal! *grin*

wait wait wait, it's NOT the same thing. I already have the full version of the Chaos, and this bit is not in it. I did some more googling around the web and found more of it (the one I posted), and it appears to be attributed to a T.S. Watt, written in 1954 for The Guardian. It's further down on the page you gave me, as "another poem," but NOT part of The Chaos. So now you'll have TWO of these to play with in your class! :)

Ahhh, okay. I didn't look super closely at it the first time. Neat!

I do like The Chaos, though. I learned plenty of words myself! And that's never a bad thing. :)

And I learned that Cholmondeley should be pronounced Chumly! These Brits! ;)

I like it, too. :) I think it's pure genius! :) And British place name pronunciations are always a hoot.

Yes, English is absolutely dreadful and I will never learn enough to be happy :)

And this....

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes; but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes. One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese. You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice; yet the plural of house is houses, not hice. If the plural of man is always called men, why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen? If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet, and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet? If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth? Then one may be that, and three would be those, yet hat in the plural would never be hose, and the plural of cat is cats, not cose. We speak of a brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother, we never say methren. Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him, but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.Some reasons to be grateful if you grew up speaking English

> 1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
> 2) The farm was used to produce produce.
> 3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
> 4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
> 5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
> 6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
> 7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
> 8) At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
> 9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
> 10) I did not object to the object.
> 11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
> 12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
> 13) They were too close to the door to close it.
> 14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
> 15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
> 16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
> 17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
> 18> After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
> 19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
> 20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
> 21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
> 22) I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

Screwy pronunciations can mess up your mind!
For example... If you have a rough cough, climbing can be tough when going through the bough on a tree! Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England. We take English for granted.

But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?

Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wiseguy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

Re: And this....

Ha! Thanks, Marie! :) I had some of that already, but not all. :)

Re: And this....

I really like the peculiarities of the language. Poor L-G thinks English is totally insane and set up so that no foreigner could ever understand it. And I think my above answer just confirmed his suspicions :)

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lizardek's obiter photos
lizardek's obiter photos

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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

Abraham Lincoln

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