If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.

After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
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.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But 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, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

English Pronunciation by G. Nolst Trenité


Promotion: Ever had a dream, a great idea, a vision? Well Pot Noodle want to help them come true.

Leave a Reply

968 Responses

  • sandra-kay (in New Mexico, usa)

    If i had another lifetime i’d study Linguistics…it’s so interesting.
    And this Poem is Wonderful; couldn’t stop laughing.
    And a perfect example of why many immigrants to America put-off even trying to learn (much less speak) our mother-tongue, LOL!
    Most of us native-speakers don’t even know the myriad rules&exceptions…
    we just go with the flow!

    December 23, 2011 at 11:30 pm
  • zoe

    Completely, lessee. Awesome blossom. :)

    December 24, 2011 at 1:37 am
  • Andy


    About 20 lines down, it should be “shoe, poem and toe” though, rather than “show”.

    December 24, 2011 at 8:50 am
  • G.Guest

    Thoroughly enjoyed saying that one out loud! Only a couple of very slight hiccups. Mind you, as I am English, it would have been sad to have messed up. I did have an adjudicator listening! Happy Christmas all.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm
  • Enter your name...Carolyn

    Love, love, love this!

    December 29, 2011 at 5:24 pm
  • Ray

    I don’t believe I’d be doing better than 90%. I think the figure would be 99.9% Two words got me. Those are “ague” and “skein”. My guesses are ‘arg’ and ‘skeen’ but I’m off to find out. Good – clever! :-)

    January 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm
  • Claire

    G.Guest. I think you mean Hiccough lol.

    January 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm
  • Vicky

    Is there a video with someone reading it out? I’d love to hear the correct pronunciation for everything!

    January 2, 2012 at 8:54 pm
  • Connie Mack

    I think I was OK except for Tepichore, and I only knew Melpomene and Foefffer because the poem told you that they rhymed with the words before or after. Also not sure I got Balmoral correct. I am going to run this by my husband. I have taught first graders and Kindergarteners to read for 26 years and I almost feel guilty introducing word families (cat, hat etc…) as if it was going to continue to make any sense after that.

    January 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm
  • Aileen

    fun. So how many can we miss for a passing score? i’d say i got 80%…

    January 2, 2012 at 11:19 pm
  • Tony Mechelynck

    Yeah, a video would be nice, but with what accent? BBC English? General American (and which variety of it)? Other (which?) Or maybe just a written “Answer” in IPA? ‘Di:rəst ‘kri:tʃər ɪn kri’eiʃən, ‘stʌdɪ ‘ɪŋgliʃ prouˌnʌnsi’eiʃən… (if I didn’t already err).

    January 3, 2012 at 12:52 am
  • cheryl

    OMG I’m not stupid

    January 3, 2012 at 3:12 am
  • joe

    awesome poem, and i’m a physics major. but I do see mistakes often made by students (and myself in pronunciation)…should be fun to share

    January 3, 2012 at 3:33 am
  • Yo MoM


    January 3, 2012 at 3:57 am
  • Penny


    The others were not a problem, but then I’ve lived in Islington….Arkansas would have tripped me up before I moved to the US. I would have assumed it was a fancier “Kansas”.

    To Ray above: it’s “aygue” (which is a shaking or trembling, I think, but if I’m wrong then it’s a kind of gout), and “skayn” (a prepared length of thread, somewhat equivalent to a ball of wool but much more loosely rolled).

    January 3, 2012 at 4:01 am
  • Mark

    Illustrating the truth of “two nations divided by a common language.” :)

    Seriously, though, I think I got over 97%, if you permit slight do-overs. (Iz-ling-ton originally got me, but I got the rest as far as I could tell.) I second the motion for at least an audio recording of the proper pronunciation!

    January 3, 2012 at 5:19 am
  • uncamikey

    Teach English as a Second Language for a while and you will realize how absurd our language is. And that “English” guy? No way he got these words right! The Brits are ruining the American language thru television. Every network’s got its token Brit now. Nauseating prissyness!

    January 3, 2012 at 7:02 am
  • Therese from USA

    Adored it. Yes Yes, I want a video. Someone who speaks the queen’s English, followed by a US southerner, followed by some other equally difficult to understand accent (I am technically from the US South, so I am allowed to say that!)

    January 3, 2012 at 10:43 am
  • dave blake

    Very enjoyable, an expanded version of the ghoci = fish joke. I missed viscount, which can be forgiven due to my hapless Americanness, not so for missing breeches and victuals (but now I know where britches and vittles come from!) Plait is a problematic entry, because the American pronunciation is long A.

    In addition to the show error Andy found, earn doesn’t rhyme with ere, as wear and tear do, but with err (another commonly mispronounced word); the rhyme scheme stumbles at four/Arkansas; I could find no authority for pronouncing groats like grits, though they’re certainly closely related; and enough rhymes with rough, not cough (and it would have been nice to mention lough, an alternate spelling for loch, which rhymes with van Gogh).

    January 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm
  • Jan Pelley

    Throughly enjoyed reading this. It’s a challenge!

    January 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm
  • Pete

    I can see that a lot of native US English speakers are going to have problems, since spelling has been changed since so many words have had spelling changes for phonetic simplification, but those growing up on the queens english, instead of the presidents shouldnt have too much trouble if theyve heard of the word before. Funny poem though. :) i love these variations from a linguistic perspective since they show how standard english has it roots in so many other languages, creating these anomalies.

    January 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm
  • Matthew

    uncamikey – “…The Brits are ruining the American language thru television…”

    Funniest comment ever!! If I was drinking milk I’d have blown it out my nose.

    Someone seems to require fresh lessons in history.

    January 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm
  • Spencer

    Pronunciation is all well and good, but I would love to see the general “English speaking” population have a basic grasp of the grammar and spelling for their native language. Hell, I would even settle for proper punctuation. These are skills that seem to be dwindling all too rapidly nowadays.

    January 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm
  • Alex

    “Foeffer” should read “feoffer”, meaning somebody who creates a feoffment (or trust). We’d probably use “benefactor” now.

    @uncamikey: “The Brits are ruining the American language thru television.”

    And they say that Americans don’t do irony!

    January 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm
  • Jeniffer

    I think I managed about 90% of the words in this poem. Fun!

    January 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm
  • Sara

    The Frenchman was a wimp! Sorry, but I did find this quite manageable.

    January 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm
  • Siobhan

    Love It! Did it!!! Thanks!

    January 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm
  • catty

    great fun! I am rather literate and wasnt sur e of a few.

    January 3, 2012 at 6:33 pm
  • Laurie

    Wow. And if you really want to complicate the process of reading this aloud, try doing it while heavily congested, courtesy of seasonal allergies.

    But seriously, what a delightfully thought-provoking exercise. We do take our language for granted.

    January 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm
  • Jeremiah

    Only found 2 that I sorta had to bleep over.

    What boggles my mind is contemplating how long he must have worked to put that together. Freaking brilliant!!

    January 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm
  • Jes

    Enjoyed this! I did well.

    Spencer is correct. Grammar and spelling are big issues these days.

    January 3, 2012 at 7:52 pm
  • Alan

    A few proper names and British pronunciations got me, but not many. In many American dialects aunt *does* rhyme with haunt, in others with ant. Like another poster said, I’m not sure about the four/Arkansas rhyme. Maybe in a few rare dialectical variations, but generally the last syllable is pronounced “saw”.

    January 3, 2012 at 8:01 pm
  • Manda

    I want to make drunk people read this so bad lmao

    January 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm
  • Brandon

    This was so much fun! I adore the language I speak and I strive to speak it well. I feel vindicated (I did really well, with the exception of a couple of hiccups on the proper nouns that have been bastardized by being local street names) and now I’m going to challenge my friends to give this a shot!

    January 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm
  • Travis

    The street I live on is Gough. I have no idea how it is supposed to be pronounced. Does it rhyme with “though”, “rough”, “cough”, “through”. I generally go with the “cough” pronunciation, whereas my wife uses “though”.

    Great article!

    January 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm
  • Wolfie

    Loved it! West coast American here. There were a couple of words I’d never seen before, so those threw me off, but I think I did quite well.
    I agree with Spencer above. Proper anything would be nice among the average American population. I’ve sworn that once I do start teaching writing, I will require my students to know their punctuation and spell things properly. No text-speak. Leave that for your texting, not in essays or fiction.
    Lots of fun! I’m so spreading this one around.

    January 3, 2012 at 8:31 pm
  • edmur

    Ran this through “The Dialectizer” to translate into Redneck English, here’s what I got:

    Dearess creature in creashun,
    Study English pronunciashun.
    ah will larn yo’ in mah vahse
    Soun’s like co’pse, co’ps, houn’dog, an’ wo’se.
    ah will keep yo’, Suzy, busy,
    Make yer haid wif heat grow dizzy.
    Tear in eye, yer dress will tear.
    So shall I! Fry mah hide! Oh hear mah prayer.
    Jest compare heart, bard, an’ heard,
    Dies an’ diet, lo’d an’ wo’d,
    Swo’d an’ sward, retain an’ Britain, as enny fool kin plainly see.
    (Mind th’ latter, how it’s writ.)
    Now ah surely will not plague yo’
    Wif sech wo’ds as plaque an’ ague.
    But be careful how yo’ speak:
    Say bust an’ steak, but bleak an’ streak;
    Cloven, oven, how an’ low,
    Scripp, receipp, show, poem, an’ toe.
    Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
    Dotter, laughter, an’ Terpsicho’e,
    Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
    Exiles, similes, an’ reviles;
    Scholar, vicar, an’ cigar,
    Solar, mica, war an’ far;
    One, anemone, Balmo’al,
    Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
    Gertrude, German, wind an’ mind,
    Scene, Me’pomene, mankind, cuss it all t’ tarnation.
    Billy Joeet does not rhyme wif ballet,
    Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
    Blood an’ flood is not like grub,
    No’ is m’d like sh’d an”d.
    Viscous, viscount, load an’ broad,
    Toward, t’fo’ward, t’reward, cuss it all t’ tarnation.
    An’ yer pronunciashun’s OK
    When yo’ co’reckly say croquet,
    Roun’ed, woun’ed, grieve an’ sieve,
    Friend an’ fiend, alive an’ live.
    Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
    An’ inamour rhyme wif hammer.
    Rivah, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
    Doll an’ roll an’ some an’ home.
    Peekoolyarr does not rhyme wif anger,
    Neifer does devour wif clangour.
    Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
    Font, front, wont, want, gran’, an’ grant,
    Shoes, goes, does. Now fust say finger,
    An’ then singer, ginger, linger,
    Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge an’ gauge,
    Marriage, foliage, mirage, an’ age.
    Query does not rhyme wif mighty,
    No’ does fury soun’ like bury.
    Dost, lost, post an’ doth, cloth, loth.
    Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
    Though th’ differences seem li’l,
    We say acshul but vickual, ah reckon.
    Refer does not rhyme wif deafer.
    Foeffer does, an’ zephyr, heifer.
    Mint, pint, senate an’ sedate;
    Dull, bull, an’ Jedidiah ett late.
    Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
    Science, cornscience, scientific.
    Liberty, library, heave an’ hevvin,
    Rachel, ache, moestache, eleven, as enny fool kin plainly see.
    We say hallered, but allered,
    Varmints, leopard, towed, but vowed, cuss it all t’ tarnation.
    Mark th’ differences, mo’eovah,
    Between movah, covah, clovah;
    Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
    Chalice, but po-lice an’ lice;
    Camel, cornstable, unstable,
    Principle, disciple, label, ah reckon.
    Petal, panel, an’ kinal,
    Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal, ah reckon.
    Wo’m an’ sto’m, chaise, chaos, chair,
    Senato’, speckato’, mayo’.
    Tour, but our an’ succour, four.
    Gas, alas, an’ Arkansas.
    Sea, idea, Ko’ea, area,
    Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
    Yo’th, south, southern, cleanse an’ clean, as enny fool kin plainly see.
    Dockrine, turpentine, marine.
    Compare alien wif Italian,
    Dan’elion an’ battalion, as enny fool kin plainly see.
    Sally wif ally, yea, ye,
    Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, an’ key.
    Say avah, but evah, fevah,
    Neifer, leisure, skein, deceivah.
    Heron, granary, kinary.
    Crevice an’ device an’ aerie.
    Face, but preface, not efface.
    Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
    Large, but targit, gin, give, vahgin’,
    Ought, out, joest an’ scour, scourgin’.
    Ear, but arn an’ wears an’ tear
    Do not rhyme wif hyar but ere.
    Seven is right, but so is even,
    Hyphen, roughen, nephew Hepzibahen,
    Monkey, donkey, Turk an’ jerk,
    Ask, grasp, wasp, an’ cawk an’ wawk.
    Pronunciashun (reckon of Psyche!)
    Is a palin’ stout an’ spikey?
    Won’t it make yo’ lose yer wits,
    Writin’ groats an’ sayin’ grits?
    It’s a dark abyss o’ tunnel:
    Strewn wif stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
    Islin’ton an’ Isle of Wight,
    Housewife, vahdick an’ indick.
    Finally, which rhymes wif inough,
    Though, through, plough, o’ dough, o’ cough?
    Hiccough has th’ soun’ of cup.
    Mah advice is t’give up! Fry mah hide!! Fry mah hide!! Fry mah hide!

    January 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm
  • Mike

    ‘Arkansas’ and ‘four’ rhyme perfectly in Britspeak, since ‘four’ is pronounced ‘faw’ (in England — not in Scotland). And ‘bass’ (low voice) rhymes with ‘efface,’ but not ‘bass’ (fish) or ‘Bass’ (ale).

    January 3, 2012 at 9:02 pm
  • Jason

    It seems like they’re implying “vicar”and “mica” rhyme (which they clearly don’t, vick-er vs my-cuh) and the most common pronunciation for “breeches” is just like it looks.In fact, many of these words have multiple correct pronunciations, often with only regional dialects leading to the sound the author appears to be looking for….

    January 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm
  • Carol

    Delightful! I teach freshman English in a midwest high school, and I can tell you that it would be rare for my students to get more than 75% of these words.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm
  • Patricia

    I can read it all :) But I live in England and study English Literature and used to study linguistics at A level. I must admit it makes our language look really weird! x

    January 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm
  • Tim

    Whatever the reasons, this was just plain fun! I agree that our language is suffering these days, partly to blame is the current “Texting” fad, where most things are abbreviated to death!! I have a daughter who is a Junior in high school, and she can’t spell the name of the school she attends! No way her class would get through this.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm
  • Doug Lancaster, Tucson Arizona

    This is a tongue-twister lover’s delight! Punctuation will win when wishy-washy misspelling and punctuation won’t. It’s absolutely brilliant!

    January 3, 2012 at 9:40 pm
  • Heidi

    I ended up reading through it three ways, my own Northwest US/Canadian accent, my mother’s Tennessee accent, and BBC English. Interesting to see all the differences andhow they affected the rhymes.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm
  • Sarah Barendse

    LOVE IT! i can do it! WOOT WOOT! :P

    January 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm
  • DavCrav

    “…and the most common pronunciation for “breeches” is just like it looks.”

    I was under the impression that this is pronounced to rhyme with ‘witches’ or ‘pitches’. I believe you might be thinking of ‘breaches’, meaning to enter by force.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:59 pm
  • emily

    My first guess was that “Gough” rhymes with “bough”. I ought to say it must be tough to give people directions through your town, although I could be wrong.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm
  • Kurt

    I am an English (Language Arts) teacher. I also teach English as a Second and Foreign Language. I teach History as well and am familiar with the history of language. A thoroughly delightful test. I tried to read it btwn teaching online classes, and had to stop. It is a bit galling that we teach word groups (cat, hat, sat) like English words are going to be easy to pronounce much less use. I agree an audio rendering of this would help. The Americans, British, Canadians, and Australians are four nations separated by a common language. LOL.It will only get more difficult as NNESs add their diversity to the English Language. Especially in the USA because the USA, unlike Great Britain does not have an “official academy’ deciding what is acceptable. There is no “Queen’s English in the U.S. We do have some class distinctions (see Dr. William Labov’s studies done in NYC),but many people simply ignore such things.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:08 pm
  • James Lofthouse

    I pronounced them all. Who knows if it was right? At least it was with the local accent. :) I love it.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm
  • MissZ

    I love it! So difficult but very interesting. Really makes you think just how screwed up the English language is. Must be difficult for non-natives to learn.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:10 pm
  • Jasmine

    I got it lol except 2 words

    January 3, 2012 at 10:14 pm
  • Wesley Coll

    This is a great post and ever so adequate to illustrate the poor conditions of English teaching in this country and across the pound. However, the lack of humility displayed in the comments is truly startling. As if it’s easily forgotten that so many foreign-born giants of literature excelled and achieved immortality using English as if it were their own tongue, to the point that many a native speaker would have no grasp whatsoever about (Nabokov, anyone?) The very same storied tongue that’s been so unfairly treated nowadays by tabloids and tweet usage alike. I’m sure this post has captured the attention of an unusual amount of scholars and linguists today, which is absolutely marvelous and exquisitely rare. But what about a little challenge for the self-appointed 99% above: why not record your own YouTube video to showcase your amazing pronunciation skills?

    January 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm
  • Julie

    Perhaps because English is my second language – this was a pleasure and no problem with any of the words. My jaw did get tired but it was fun. :)

    January 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm
  • Josephine Garbutt

    I really did enjoy this. As a Brit living in a non-english speaking country I find it hard to keep up a good quality of english. I often think that my english sounds quite antique! I hoped that facebook would help keep me in practice…. hahaha..how silly can you get! I mean when people are writing 2 instead of to or too (probably because they’re not sure of the difference) I don’t think there can be much hope….

    January 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm
  • Jeannette

    @ Mike,
    And I’ve heard that some folks from Arkansas pronounce the name of their state the same way we pronounce folks from Arkansas (“ArKANsans”).

    January 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm
  • roystgnr

    Difficult for non-natives, and non-phonetic pronunciation also makes English unnecessarily hard for native children to learn to read and write… but who wants to change the system and render billions of texts archaic? Both the costs and benefits of switching would make the imperial->metric units changeover seem trivial.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm
  • Doris Newcomb

    I read it . I love it. Not sure of a couple of words. Most of it was easy.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm
  • Joe

    “Foeffer” is a misspelling of “feoffer.”

    January 3, 2012 at 10:40 pm
  • Nancy

    That was a lot of fun to read! The Muses tripped me up, though; I’m used to reading the names in my head, haven’t read them aloud since college!

    January 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm
  • Emily Wadsworth

    Easier to read in your head than out loud. Loved it though very clever.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:53 pm
  • Ivriniel

    And this is why Whole Language instruction (true Whole Language mind, not some of the bastardized versions that are out there) when teaching English reading and writing is superior to instruction that is based exclusively on phonics.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:53 pm
  • Pam

    I actually found it easy …but then I’m always correcting people on their grammar. Even my ten year old grandson knew correct grammar, punctuation & pronunciation. (I suppose because I was so intent on him having proper grammar skills in a world that …..lets face it….just doesn’t know how to speak correctly)! My grandson (who was killed in a car accident one year ago at age ten) actually corrected his English teacher during class when he was nine…….that’s my boy. Now he’s in Heaven probably correcting people there. The English language is fine if people just take the time to learn it.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:02 pm
  • Kas

    To pass GCSE English Language the student should be able to correctly sight-read this! I love it!

    January 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm
  • Carl

    Loved it. Always good to keep sharp on what you say, as well as what you see.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:12 pm
  • Jay

    No problem, actually very easy

    January 3, 2012 at 11:23 pm
  • Shie

    Who distorted this?!
    The original from 1922, that’s right!

    January 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm
  • dez martini

    The best part is the author is clearly a foreigner, with a name like that… Us Americans are so lazy that we don’t even use full words anymore when writing to our friends, which is so poor and and a handicap to our vocabulary.

    January 3, 2012 at 11:35 pm
  • Kim

    I’m Canadian and am proud to say I could read it! Yes, English must be so frustrating to learn, but I tried my hand at learning Italian in Italy … NOT SO EASY! Since when did a lamp or car grow genitals? (Everything is referred to as masculine or feminine) This is where I’m L O S T !!! After much frustration the teachers and students of other countries, agreed that if you only spoke English, then Italian would be difficult to learn. Even if you came from France and only speak french, it was easier as french also refers to everything in masculine or feminine. Make sense?? *shakes head* doesn’t make sense to me either. =)

    January 3, 2012 at 11:43 pm
  • Paul

    “Though the rough bough brought naught but woe.”

    “The office despot went to Office Depot.”

    January 3, 2012 at 11:46 pm
  • Brian (not Sewell!)

    I truely hope that those in charge of education, in the UK will read this, and realise that phonetics is not the ONLY, or best way to teach children English! “Buh, is for Bee”! Is it really?

    January 3, 2012 at 11:49 pm
  • Wong

    I can’t understands what he is sayings :(

    January 3, 2012 at 11:49 pm
  • Gary Ploski

    I gave it a run while waiting for my ride home. I even recorded my success and mistakes for fun. Here’s the vid: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=565747176247

    This was great fun. I hope the Frenchman is doing OK. ;-)

    January 3, 2012 at 11:54 pm
  • Siobhan

    Cute poem for expressing the unholy, ridiculous mess that is English spelling and all the fun that comes of randomly appropriating bits of everyone else’s language, but what’s with the snotty little lead-in? English is spoken all over the world in so many accents and so many ways that “correct” pronunciation is a perfectly meaningless concept. Resisting the evolution of language and the attempted imposition of restraints from above is both futile and rather nasty.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:10 am
  • Suny

    this is the most amazing thing ever. it also hurts so so very much, and i’m not even half way through. reading this would be a great youtube video lol

    January 4, 2012 at 12:12 am
  • Shaun

    I was taught to read and write phonetically to begin with. I also read books. I had minimal difficulty reading this.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:19 am
  • pilar

    call me crazy, but in my (english major’s) world, query does rhyme with very!

    January 4, 2012 at 12:22 am
  • Dahlia Balir

    That was fun! There were a couple of unfamiliar words, so I’m not sure I pronounced them correctly.

    Some words will be pronounced differently, depending on British English, or American English.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:31 am
  • kristen

    i beAt your poem and i have a witness hell yeAh

    January 4, 2012 at 12:36 am
  • Jon in LA

    I think I pronounced everything properly. Although I am sure I did not do justice to the author’s name.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:55 am
  • joe flynn

    Nothing too complicated about this. If one made it past the fifth grade it should be simple.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:00 am
  • Kenneth

    I was doing fine, until Melpomene,
    I did not know it rhymes with hominy.
    I did not know its proper use,
    What’s this? A second cousin of Zeus?
    Muse of tragedy? Thou tricksy poet
    ‘Tis Greek, not English, and you know it.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:11 am
  • Laurie O'Dell

    I love this. Quite fun to read. It points out why my job as a bilingual/ESL teacher is so difficult. While there are rules to our language, quite often there are no rules.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:16 am
  • Marlene

    Blame our ancestors who couldn’t build a language from scratch, but borrowed heavily from the French, German, Latin, Greek, and every other language in Europe and the Mid-East.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:17 am
  • Hayden Hughes

    Great article! I have to admit I didn’t get everything right, but at least someone is keeping score!

    January 4, 2012 at 1:20 am
  • Tony Mechelynck

    About four and Arkansas (which does indeed rhyme with “saw”, at least when speaking of the state) the trick is that BBC English is a non-rhotic accent, i.e. an accent where post-vocalic r is usually not pronounced when before a consonant or a pause. In such an accent, four [fɔː] does indeed rhyme with Arkansas [ɑːknsɔː].

    January 4, 2012 at 1:22 am
  • DRU

    Amazing. And without even tackling “colonel.”

    January 4, 2012 at 1:55 am
  • MissAnnThrope

    Should Terpsichore and Psyche be used in this poem? They are Greek, after all, not English.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:57 am
  • Luiz Fernando

    Wesley Call is jealous because people that speak english as their native language rarely speak another language fairly well… I got 7 mistakes, but I’ve still got 2 years of study ahead, and this is because I had english during all my school life and studied for 6 years in a very good course in my country (actually skipping 2 years, one while young and another when I got my Cambridge certificate of advanced english)
    My point is, although it may be very hard, it IS perfectly possible to get close to native in another language. If you think english is hard, try portuguese instead :)

    January 4, 2012 at 2:17 am
  • Andrew

    I’m a bit slow. Will someone please explain the point of the poem? Is there a way to tell whether you are pronouncing the words correct? Which words are supposed to rhyme and which aren’t?

    January 4, 2012 at 2:30 am
  • Ian P

    Definitely clever to read it out alone – there’s nobody to hear anything wrong!
    I really am sure I only missed 2 words …

    January 4, 2012 at 2:33 am
  • Julie Moore

    That was so much fun to read I read it twice! I love my language and how precise in meaning it is. Other languages are nice, but flowery, I like to get to the point. Thanks English! ;)

    January 4, 2012 at 2:38 am
  • Mike

    The pronunciation of words with similar spellings has more to do with the letters that are different than the ones that are the same. Once you understand that, it makes much more sense. It also becomes easier to deal with the words that don’t follow those rules, as there are far fewer (I’m looking at you Arkansas :P )

    January 4, 2012 at 2:38 am
  • S

    Also, it implies that ‘aunt’ is pronounced the same as ‘ant.’ But is it?

    January 4, 2012 at 2:41 am
  • Hmm

    Pam… let’s face it… not lets face it… but point well made I guess :)

    January 4, 2012 at 2:46 am
  • mom

    I have one for you pronounce ” Isle Au Haut”

    ( pronounced “I- La-HOE”) Now where or what is it?
    If you can’t pronounce it you are not a true Mainer!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:54 am
  • Draygo

    “English Pronunciation”, in which dialect? Australian, New Zealand and South African accents can be regarded as similar (at least, people who aren’t from one of those countries generally can’t seem to tell the difference), but there are quite a few variations between them. But in Britain itself, pronunciation of a word can literally change just by going to the next town, especially in Scotland where the general Scots dialect is already almost an independent language, despite being right above England. And let’s face it, the only people who speak ‘proper’ English are the posh dickwads who think they’re better than the rest of us.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:59 am
  • Malcolm Saunders

    I am grate, but not grandiloquent

    January 4, 2012 at 3:01 am
  • Alipaige

    I read thee whole thing and it was very awesome

    January 4, 2012 at 3:10 am
  • Heather

    Gerard Nolst Trenite was Dutch!

    January 4, 2012 at 3:25 am
  • Pam

    I would dare to say that most people on this page found it easy to read because they actually do read and enjoy the English language. The rest of the people were probably frightened away without ever following the link! My grammar police friends will enjoy it as much as I did though.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:46 am
  • Kevin

    All of these words are not “English.” A lot of them are cognates, with identical spellings in other languages. Still a pretty neat read, though.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:49 am
  • Alipaige

    I loved it
    I have a boyfriend

    January 4, 2012 at 3:52 am
  • Kristen

    English has a million different pronunciations because it is a Germanic language that also takes words from both Latin and Greek as well as others. For example, some of those words were French words that we just adopted, like croquet, chalet and ballet, and we say them the French way. Each word is pronounced the way it would be in its origin language, and so its a giant mix.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:10 am
  • mary lou chandler

    I THINK I got them all correct, but may have missed on AUNT…my aunt Mary rhymes with ANT! ;)

    January 4, 2012 at 4:11 am
  • Pee Jay

    I’ve always found this sort of thing easy to grasp, and I confess I have indulged in some word-snobbery, thinking the skill to be hugely important. Then my son, who is bright and articulate in oral English, turned out to be dyslexic. He could not begin to cope with this poem no matter how good his teaching was. This has made me realise just how ridiculously difficult English is – you cannot work out what is correct you have to just know. We should not be too superior if we find it easy.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:37 am
  • Scott

    I think this illustrates the interesting multicultural aspect of what has become the American English language. To outsiders, it might seem silly that we don’t have a great rhyme or reason for why words are the way they are, but if you love etymology, the English language is the most fascinating. I don’t think it is negative if you can’t understand each subtle nuance of all of the words, words have plasticity and change frequently.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:50 am
  • becky

    A note on Arkansas: if you’re referring to the US state or the river as it runs through that state, it’s Ar-kan-saw. The people who live there are Arkansawyers. I was born and raised (I know it should be “reared”) there until I moved to Texas (pronounced TEX-us).

    January 4, 2012 at 5:24 am
  • Doug Anke

    As a professor and lover of English (even if from America), I find that regional dialect has altered many of these words can be pronounced quite differently and still be counted correct. I do know the “official” pronunciations for them (and the British, Aussie, and American variances) and even use them when in polite company, but English is much more casual and adaptive a language than this writer seems to acknowledge. I do find it clever, however…and certainly accurate to the students I work with on a regular basis. Many do indeed just give up and let spellcheck sort it out.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:35 am
  • Jeff

    And we expect “illegal aliens” to learn this before they can stay?

    January 4, 2012 at 5:55 am
  • Eli Kaplan

    As an American ESL instructor, I love a large part of this poem. I will grant the author use of obscure British words (stoat). It’s their prerogative.

    But Greek proper nouns have not been in common usage in any Anglophone country’s vernacular in living memory.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:06 am
  • Tanya

    Awww, makes me miss my days as a TEFL teacher in Prague :) Oh the torture I’d put my wonderful students under!

    January 4, 2012 at 6:06 am
  • Zach

    Lots of fun! But to be fair, some of these words are either rarely written or even worse rarely used these days. In its place, however, is a slew of new words being added to the language every year. Such is the course of language. For instance, when I first studied Japanese I knew several relatively complicated Kanji and words that my friends did not know. While it felt cool to know something that a native didn’t, I realized that my usage just sounded weird and unnatural. There were more colloquial expressions that I should have been recognizing and using instead. In the end, when studying a language, your goal is usually to be indistinguishable from a real native, sometimes even /making the same mistakes/ as they do.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:51 am
  • Joyce

    i tried it.good

    January 4, 2012 at 6:58 am
  • Mike

    I can’t believe I read that. The whole thing,lol. And yes I can pronounce every word. Yes we have the dumbest language in existence.!!

    January 4, 2012 at 7:48 am
  • Alberto Córdoba Escorcia

    My english pronunciation is a mess

    January 4, 2012 at 8:09 am
  • Marilyn Yoder

    You left one out. “Pronunciation” has of late been degraded to “pro noun see ay shun.” I taught speech/drama for 40years, and was inspired by a very special teacher in grades 3-6. She was Iona Freeman, and later taught at Tulsa High School, where I later taught. I tried to keep her legacy going. How you speak is a very important part of your presentation to the world.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:22 am
  • Willem Coetzee

    My bet is that South Africans will read and pronounce this perfectly… ;-)

    January 4, 2012 at 8:25 am
  • Vaughan

    Hmmmmm, gripping stuff. For anyone who is not a first language English speaker this would be a nightmare, so many contradictions in terms – seemingly. I found it most enjoyable and refreshing. It is so good to encounter people appreciating and enjoying literature and the use of language. Thank you.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:25 am
  • Leonna

    I don’t know if it’s my NorthEastern US accent, but stranger and anger sound exactly alike. I think a lot of this is supposed to be pronounced with a British accent or with a general “American” accent and not something akin to the regional Northeastern accent, which is a mix between Bostonian and New York. It’s not an incorrect pronunciation of English, but, rather, a regional variation of English, akin to the regional variations of Hindi in India or Italian in Italy (I have been told, on numerous occasions, that I speak Italian with an Abruzzi accent). Having said all that, the poem, itself, is not difficult to read, if you know poetry and read it out loud in the typical sing-song aa bb pattern.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:36 am
  • Rachel

    If you can read that poem aloud,
    I think you should be very proud.
    For, words aside, the meter’s frightful,
    Though the end result is quite delightful.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:58 am
  • Antonia

    I loved this. However, I must be nit-picky about the word “bass.” It has two completely different pronunciations depending on whether you mean “bass” as in the fish, or “bass” as in the musical instrument.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:04 am
  • Castillo

    Okay, now a similar text in another language, to get Anglophones to learn another language.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:43 am
  • Brenda

    way cool! English is weird and that poem is wired. ;)

    January 4, 2012 at 10:15 am
  • dash

    Anyways, irregardless of whether you done finished the poem or not, it aint that hard a thing to do. But I ax, … never mind…this crap is too hard to speak improperly. Let the grammar nazis unite.

    January 4, 2012 at 10:43 am
  • Jade

    Antonia – bass wasn’t the only word there that could have different pronunciations, a few of the others were live and tear

    January 4, 2012 at 10:57 am
  • Byron Black

    Brilliant! I thoroughly enjoyed that.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:04 am
  • Linda

    Irregardless, dear dash, is contradictory … just keep it simple REGARDLESS of what you thought you knew!

    January 4, 2012 at 11:07 am
  • fievos

    What is this ‘proper pronunciation’ nonsense? This poem was written for foreign language speakers as a bit of fun to remind them of the idiosyncrasies of English spelling and help them remember pronunciations. There is no one correct pronunciation of English; this poem, for example, rhymes ‘four’ and ‘Arkansas’, which have the same final sound (/ɔː/) in British Received Pronunciation, but not in most American, Irish and Scottish accents. So are these accents wrong? Well, they preserve an the original English pronunciation, so if any accent is wrong surely it is RP.

    All varieties of native English pronunciation are ‘correct’, they’re just a reflection of the fact that languages vary over time and space. RP was not the original pronunciation of English, and it’s pronunciation has changed even since this poem was written in 1920 (listen to any old BBC radio program if you want proof).

    If you’re a non-native speaker or are embarrassed about your regional accent you might want to acquire a British RP or General American accent, but that doesn’t make them ‘more correct’, it just means they have a higher social status for completely arbitrary reasons.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:19 am
  • Jo van Rooyen

    @ Willem Coetzee … Completely agree with you. South Africans have been raised on the “Queens English”, not the bastardised American version of the language. Even a large part of the Afrikaans speaking people here shouldn’t battle with that too much (if educated before they completely dumb-graded the education system to suit the “majority”)

    January 4, 2012 at 11:27 am
  • damiana

    To Leona: stranger and anger don’t sound the same bc the letter “g” is pronounced differently regardless of your region. But it is difficult for native speakers of English to truly appreciate the difficulty of this poem. I learned English 18 years ago as an adult, i did my undergraduate and graduate degrees in the US, and have been living and working in the us these last 18 years…i would say i got about 90 % of the words right. There were a few words (new to me) that i truly did not know how to prnounce them.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:31 am
  • Alison

    @ Eli Kaplan: stoat may be an obscure British word to you – it’s a common animal to us!

    January 4, 2012 at 11:35 am
  • Henry Mulligan

    I have ab arthritic ankle and walk with a pronounced limp.
    That is l-i-m-p pronounced limp.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:46 am
  • Carolyn

    Interesting, I liked it. This was read aloud and towards the middle I slowed down, just to make sure not to be sloppy or lazy tongue (tied). I stumbled over 2 words for hooked on phonices did not work this time very well! Melpomene, Terpsichore

    January 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm
  • ladybel

    i enjoyed reading it!

    January 4, 2012 at 12:27 pm
  • Devin Gray

    I guess that must be pretty confusing to someone who doesn’t have English as their first language….I never really thought of how tricky that must be. The romance languages (Italian, spanish, french, etc) do have much clearer rules

    January 4, 2012 at 12:28 pm
  • Elaine, Laney, me

    Wonderful words play, got English?

    January 4, 2012 at 12:47 pm
  • Robden Gamo

    This was a lot of fun. I literally thought I was rapping for a cool minute

    January 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm
  • Me

    This was in our English Text book at school and we had to learn it by heart, Ja!
    I like different pronunciations, though, as the BE and AE “Aluminum”. So funny for a non native speaker.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm
  • Frtis

    And, mind you, this poem was written by a Dutchman. A poet of light verse (mostly in Dutch), a linguist and a teacher of English, Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946) was challenged to write an English poem which was to include a good handful of words from a list of hard-to-pronounce English words. He included the entire list…

    January 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm
  • Frtis

    And, mind you, this poem was written by a Dutchman. A poet of light verse (mostly in Dutch), a linguist and a teacher of English, Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946) was challenged to write an English poem which was to include a good handful of words from a list of English words which pose pronunciation problems. He included the entire list…

    January 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm
  • Finlay

    “Hiccough” is actually a misspelling of “hiccup”, and there are some imperfect rhymes in there that only work with a southern British accent. (four and Arkansas??)

    Kinda cool though. I might save it and use it in EFL…

    January 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm
  • Alison

    Methinks he hath mispelt “feoffor”. 8-}
    otherwise, excellent!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm
  • Don McCorkindale

    I courteously request that you court not, such a dangerous subject!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm
  • Lara

    I did it!!!! However I think I mistook about 15 words! (but I’m Greek so I’m alright!) :D

    January 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm
  • Thomas

    I’m glad someone else pointed out that Arkansas is pronounced “Ar-kan-saw”. This is because Arkansas is actually FRENCH! It’s the French pronunciation of the Quapaw Indian word, akakaze, which meant, land of downriver people.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm
  • FoxyReign

    This is not just American English. I love it!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm
  • Bobby Chai

    You know… I read and spoke aloud with some tangled tongue once or twice. I believe i sounded like a British, or spoke it aloud like in a choir group.
    Oh yeah~ I’m good. ;3

    January 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm
  • kiddo

    In future all those applying for British citizenship will be required to read this aloud with perfect pronunciation or no Btitish passport for them!!!!
    Ha ha and pigs might fly!

    January 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm
  • Willem Coetzee

    @Jo van Rooyen – Those exact thoughts sparked my comment, thanks for elaborating

    January 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm
  • Alison

    @Finlay: He’s using USA pronunciation; most Dutch people seem to have learned that rather than British English. To wit, see how he says breeches, i.e. “britches”.

    BTW, Americans say “Arkansaw”, which rhymes with four if you speak something like RP…

    January 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm
  • Eugene Polinsky

    Betcha no American found the rhyme for massive.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm
  • Anastasia

    Thank you so much for this great poem! :)

    January 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm
  • rp


    January 4, 2012 at 3:44 pm
  • Sunao Kurokawa

    Except for two or three, I did it all right.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm
  • evan wilson

    For Thomas: Indeed, the state is pronounced “Ar-kan-saw” as you point out. And your etymology is spot on. But in common usage along its banks, the river’s name is familiarly pronounced “AR-kan-zess.”

    January 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm
  • Melly

    @ Thomas: I don’t understand, what do you mean by ” Arkansas is pronounced “Ar-kan-saw”. This is because Arkansas is actually FRENCH! It’s the French pronunciation of the Quapaw Indian word, akakaze, which meant, land of downriver people.”

    there is no link between the word “akakaze” pronounce in french and your “arkansaw”
    French don’t prononce it like that. Can you be more clear?

    January 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm
  • D'n

    This needs audio so one can know if they pronounce the words wrong. Of course since there are so many dialects of English it is hard to pick the “right” one.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm
  • Andrew

    English – one word for snow.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm
  • Robin

    Love it! This is an English teacher’s dream poem. I’d like to hear how many teens and adults alike (my parents are forever getting tongue-tied) can speak through this one without tripping over their own words. Ha!

    January 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm
  • James

    how does one check their own pronunciation? Whether one is doing it correctly.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm
  • Sir Tom

    T’was not a problem.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm
  • K Ward

    Interesting, I will use this in my public speaking class. Though many of the words are no longer used in our vernacular.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm
  • empress

    i did it though.. good pronunciation drills for my English classes.. my students would surely learn..

    January 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm
  • Annie

    Vase/Vase or Vase your. Choice !

    January 4, 2012 at 5:06 pm
  • koka

    I’d love to see a video of someone doing the pronunciations. It would be a very wonderful resource for learning pronunciation.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:09 pm
  • Marion

    Lara, great for you to say them all but be sure to spell all right like all wrong! Two words all the way! What a hoot this is.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm
  • VM

    @Eugene Polinsky says:
    January 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm
    “Betcha no American found the rhyme for massive.” ???

    Huh? What the dickens are you talking about?

    January 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm
  • bluejean

    I so enjoyed this poem. Thank you to its author and to my friend Rick who shared it on Facebook. To Eugene who commented here previously regarding that Americans can’t find a rhyme for massive. That’s quite easy. The word PASSIVE works very well. Thank You.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm
  • Julie Weir

    I did ok. For a Texan with a community college degree. :)

    January 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm
  • Shirley

    I give up…..Im Chinese, dang!

    January 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm
  • Linda

    I beg to differ with Evan on the pronunciation of the Arkansas River. It is pronounced the same as the state…Arkansaw. Ar KAN zess is more nearly correct for the city…”Arkansas City” which is in the state of KAN sas. (I live near a lake formed by the Arkansaw River.)

    I think I pronounced most of the words in the poem correctly…am sure I missed a couple, though.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm
  • Laura Gaskin

    That is just how English is!

    January 4, 2012 at 5:25 pm
  • Pat

    Nob? Shouldn’t it be knob?
    and I searched in vain for Foeffer so possibly this should be Feoffer? Uk English spelling of spikey is ‘spiky’


    January 4, 2012 at 5:25 pm
  • jeanie

    piece of cake! although English (American or British) is one of the most difficult of languages to learn, one can have fun with it too…as for ‘breeches’, this word, in the U.S., means also to ‘overcome’ ie ‘they breeched the wall’…i live in America and pride myself on speaking well and have taught my children and my students, to the best of my ability, the same…bravo on a terrific piece of writing!!

    January 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm
  • Matt

    I’d like to see George W. Bush try it!

    January 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm
  • Leland Bryant Ross aka Ros' Haruo

    Better than 90% of them? You’re too kind to us anglophones. I really doubt if 1% of literate adult native English speakers can do it. I think I got them all “correct” except “groat”. A yeoman effort, so how did the author manage to avoid “yeoman”?

    And people still don’t understand why I prefer Esperanto.

    Oh, and Sir Tom, ’tis ’twas not t’was…

    January 4, 2012 at 5:38 pm
  • wc

    ‘But in common usage along its banks, the river’s name is familiarly pronounced “AR-kan-zess.”’

    @evan wilson: I live in an apartment on the arkansas river in downtown Tulsa OK, and I’ve never, ever, ever in my life recognized a trend of locals calling the river “Arkanzess” instead of “arkansaw.” It’s the latter for both state and river, and it is correct afaik :)

    Cool poem, not as hard as it is made out to be. I’ve gotten “you think too much,” “you’re making my head hurt,” and “stop talking so damn much thanks” in conversations my whole life, but I really think that those people are the same that fail these tests because these parts of their brains are dusty, wrinkled, and unused. They’ll get that big promotion some day!

    January 4, 2012 at 5:45 pm
  • Em Sharp

    FYI, the stae of Arkansas is pronounced ar’-kan-saw, but the Arkansas RIVER is pronounced ar-kan’-zuss. . .

    January 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm
  • Tonet Lipana

    Yea..nay i say..’twas a twister..ha!

    January 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm
  • Joanna M. Weston

    Priceless. G. Nolst Trenité must think in English, and he does it perfectly.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm
  • Jane


    January 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm
  • Ivan

    Dick rating: 10000

    January 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm
  • Anthony

    I can’t seem to get anything right, write, or wright …

    January 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm
  • Jace snow-strider

    Mmm, yes shallow and pedantic.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:31 pm
  • J.D.

    As an American and someone with an English degree, I believe that although this was tough I got every single word. Still. It’s interesting to look at the difference between American English and British English. Supposedly Americans speak better English. At least so I’m told. The only thing that really bothers me is how you Brits say Aluminum. It’s pronounced A-lum-in-num. Not Al-a-min-ium. Please learn correct English. thanks.


    January 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm
  • DutchGirl

    @Alison Dutch people learn the Queen’s English in school. We do, however, learn words from the US. A Dutch person would probably say ass instead of buttocks or bum and so on. I think that’s what got you confused.

    Loved the poem! Struggled with fury and bury. And I still think ‘study’ (2nd sentence) should be studying, but that’s just a matter of preference XD

    January 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm
  • Jillian

    Which English are they speaking of? American English or UK/ British English? There are different pronunciations depending on the region as well from what I have learned.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm
  • JPDavis

    I live about 45 minutes from southern Arkansas (ar-kan-saw) and I’ve never heard anyone refer to the state, the river, or anything else related as “ar-kan-zuss” without getting several stares of that uniquely southern expression that suggests a suspicion of the speaker’s northern and/or foreign origins. In all cases, every time, and without exception “ar-kan-saw”…unless, that is, one’s intent is to purposefully pronounce it wrong, in that one case “ar-kan-zuss” is correct. When reading the above poem, check your intent at the door. ;)

    January 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm
  • Kirke

    Good stuff. As an adult, except for a few words I didn’t know (Melpomene, Terpsichore) it wasn’t really hard at all. If one were trying to read it phonetically (as kids or people learning English would) it would be a nightmare. So it’s interesting that a trained brain doesn’t even notice the bizarre spelling inconsistencies.

    One quibble though:
    “Souls but foul, haunt but aunt” (for the poem to work you have to pronounce “aunt” like “ant,” but don’t most British people say aunt in a way that DOES rhyme with haunt? I know people from New England do.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm
  • Allan

    I have yet to see the ‘aunt’ (is it ‘ant’ or ‘awnt’?) debate.

    OK, go to!

    January 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm
  • Christie

    I’m going to use it with my students!

    January 4, 2012 at 7:15 pm
  • Grace Stewart

    I speak Hungarian and love how all words read are all pronounced correctly by all Hungarians who know the alphabet. Maybe we should borrow the Hungarian alphabet and use it and it’s rules of spelling and make it easier on us all… all words then must be spelled as pronounced. What would we do with so much sense?

    January 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm
  • Christine

    Loved this! I’m American and haved lived in Arkansas. Both the state and the river are pronounced AR-kan-saw, everywhere (including the dictionary). I’ve never heard anyone call it Ar-KAN-zess, except the day my geography teacher in a little town in Arkansas insisted another state was pronounced Ill-ah-NOISE, and I said “No, it’s not, I’m from Illinois, so shall I call this place Ar-KAN-zess?” and got sent to the principal’s office.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm
  • Marion

    I did it. Only 2 words that I’ve never heard of that I couldn’t pronounce. As a Brit living in the US, it was good to get my accent back, too! lol.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm
  • Matt R

    jeanie says:
    January 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    piece of cake! although English (American or British) is one of the most difficult of languages to learn, one can have fun with it too…as for ‘breeches’, this word, in the U.S., means also to ‘overcome’ ie ‘they breeched the wall’…i live in America and pride myself on speaking well and have taught my children and my students, to the best of my ability, the same…bravo on a terrific piece of writing!!

    Actually, Jeannie, you’re thinking of the word “Breached” (pronounced the same).
    Breech – refers to the lower part or back of something.
    Breach – refers to a break in a wall or other object.

    Further proving the intricacies of the english language.

    This poem was fun. I only missed a few of the words, and all of those were ones that I didn’t recognize.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm
  • Princess

    this was absolutely amazing. i am pretty sure that i got all of them right. of course i have always been an excellent speller. i have also been pretty good at English for most of my life. people have always told me that i talk too much and that i use too many big words. this poem was extremely easy for me to read.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm
  • Tony Mechelynck

    Leonna: stranger (strayndjer) and anger (ang-gher) pronounced alike? Really?

    Rachel: Me, I love this iambic-tetrameter (DAH-di-DAH-di-DAH-di-DAH-dit) rhythm. A really helpful aid when you (well, I) stress a word wrongly, as the rhythm will get out of kilter then. But there are word stress differences between both sides of the pond, and this is the Queen’s English, or rather the King’s, since it was written before WWII, and by a Dutch teacher of English, no less. Quite an achievement indeed.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm
  • Brianna

    My problem with this poem is that it is assuming EVERY native English speaker has come across ALL of these words and therefore MUST know how to pronounce them. Frankly that’s not true, so saying that you’re “Better than 90% of native English speakers” is inaccurate.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:37 pm
  • c. Bishop

    got caught out on a couple but did pretty well! It’s very true – our language doesn’t make sense!!

    January 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm
  • David Blake

    Okay, Shie’s comment got me to look around.

    This poem was indeed written by the Dutch language and travel writer Gerard Nolst Trenité, who originally titled it “De Chaos” in 1920. He published what is generally accepted as the definitive version, from which this fairly accurate variant derives, in 1944. The substitutions, typos and punctuation errors are distracting, however (not to mention some omissions that seek to make the poem not only somewhat less obscure but more politically correct), and I suggest you look up the original: Shie’s link is slightly more readable (only because the distracting, but very useful, every-ten-line numbering is omitted), but the society that produced the authoritative version in 1994, The Simple Spelling Society (now the English Spelling Society, they push their own spelling rectification scheme) has a site (it’s a bit rough, they’re underfunded). Both sites include interesting commentary and history by Society contributor Chris Upward.


    The questionable pronunciations mentioned in the posts here repeatedly, such as “faw” for “four”, “britches” for “breeches” and “grits” for “groats”, are much more understandable now that we know this work has aged three-quarters of a century.

    The dedicatee “Susy” of the opening (“dearest creature in creation”) seems likely to be Susanne Delacruix of Paris, no further gossipy details available. Trenité indeed got around, including a stint tutoring the children of the Dutch Consul in California, so establishing fully the roots of his take on English pronunciation will most likely forever be problematic.

    It’s a shame that one of the worst errors here appears in the last set of pseudo-rhymes, the oughs, where “cough”, which doesn’t rhyme with “enough”, was substituted for the correct “tough”. I also wish Trenité had included “lough”, which is the original spelling for “loch” (“lake”, like Loch Ness), and is the only “ough” non–proper noun I know of with a guttural “ch” sound.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm
  • Tony Mechelynck

    Dutch Girl: Dutch people would say “ass” instead of buttocks or bum… and not realize that British English includes a word “arse” which is, of course, pronounced [ɑːs] in (non-rhotic) RP (but maybe regarded as “not polite enough” for either the Queen’s language or the BBC).

    January 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm
  • Accented

    This appears to be based on a North American accent.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm
  • Kevin Treon

    Nice verse but it couldn’t be worse,
    I fell asleep ‘nary halfway through.
    I don’t in any way mean to be terse,
    but I got stuff to do…

    January 4, 2012 at 8:02 pm
  • Lisa

    One thing not mentioned in the poem is that some of the words actually do have more than one accepted pronunciation. For example, neither can be either NEE-ther or NI-ther; bass can be either BAYs or BAss, with different meanings for each way of pronouncing it.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:03 pm
  • Mike

    @Matt R – A breech is the part of a firearm where you insert the cartridge or shell.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm
  • Segie

    What about ‘Router’ the piece equipment connected to computers? Some pronounce it in a way that can convey the meaning that the equipment is destroying instead of guiding data – which is correct.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm
  • krp

    The Hungarian alphabet is really adopted from the German language. The Hungarians didn’t have a language and so they used someone else’s.

    The English language gets a lot of its irregularity from the Norman Conquest when the French language began to be folded into the Anglo-Saxon language. Both languages had already had written alphabets and the combination of the two languages and thus the inconsistencies.

    “Arkansas” is rather unique, in that is an Indian word that is written using spelling rules of the French, which just about every other Indian word for place names in the States is written phonetically using Englisn spelling rules (which do exist). The Territory was originally spelled with a final “w” (which doesn’t exist in Hungarian) and there exists a state law which dictates the pronunciation of the name, even if people from Kansas does incorrectly and ignorantly pronounce the final consonant.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:38 pm
  • Amanda

    Princess says:
    January 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm
    this was absolutely amazing. i am pretty sure that i got all of them right. of course i have always been an excellent speller. i have also been pretty good at English for most of my life. people have always told me that i talk too much and that i use too many big words. this poem was extremely easy for me to read.
    @ Princess
    You might be able to read very well and an ‘excellent speller’, but your grammar leaves a lot to be desired! No capital letters at the beginning of sentences or for the letter ‘I’……..

    January 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm
  • john

    Wonderful…I am still wondering why many Americans pronouce Iraq (Eye-Rak).who started that?..they don’t say Ine-Diana or Ine-Dia…but then they do pronouce the lovely French name Des Plaines (Dez Plains)..but then there IS Idaho (Eye-da-ho)…this may all be idiotic (EYE-Diotic?)

    January 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm
  • Rg9

    @Christine the Illinois native… The problem with your state is that everyone from it pronounces it “ELL-ah-noy”. It should be “ill-ah-noy”. There are no e’s in the name. Thus, you probably deserved the principal’s office ;)

    January 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm
  • Helga

    Great poem! Enjoyed it immensely. 92.5% correct – not bad for a foreigner!!)))) Thank you.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm
  • Wesley Coll

    Você está certo Luiz Fernando, americanos e ingleses raramente falam outra língua e não tem idéia do quão difícil é portuguese. Hahaha. Aposto que por esta não esperava, hein? Abraço
    PS: em tempo, o sobrenome é Coll.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:22 pm
  • Dan

    I loathe watching the news and commercials on television. Most of the news-casters cannot pronounce even the word pronounce. It ends up being PRANOUNCE, prafessional. Young adults are eve worse.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:32 pm
  • April

    In Kentucky where i live, breeches means pants or jeans. There is an old saying “Getting to big for your breeches”, they say this to a child when it is acting up or getting out of hand..trying to act older than it is.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm
  • Anneli

    My mother tongue is Finnish, although have spoken English most of my life.
    In Finnish EVERY letter is pronounced (always the same way)so if you speak Finnish you can write it or if you can write it you can speak it.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm
  • Tony Mechelynck

    @Brianna: «My problem with this poem is that it is assuming EVERY native English speaker has come across ALL of these words and therefore MUST know how to pronounce them.»

    That’s exactly the point. In a “civilized” language like Spanish, Finnish, Hungarian or Esperanto, you can instantly pronounce any new word you read or spell any new word you hear. Even in languages like French, Italian or Dutch, which are not 100% phonetically spelled, you have a good idea of how to pronounce a word that you’ve only met in print. But in English it isn’t so, as so many counterexamples (of words with similar spelling and totally different pronunciation, starting of course with the infamous though — through — trough) as there are in this poem are proof enough, without going as far as the Greek mythology proper names Terpsichore [tœːˈpsɪkərɪ], still easy enough to guess by the rhyme with “trickery”, and Melpomene, which the alternating strong-weak rhythm makes me guess as [mɛlˈpɔmənei].

    January 4, 2012 at 9:57 pm
  • fluhg

    Matt R. said: “English (American or British) is one of the most difficult of languages to learn”

    Rrrrrrrright….you sir, know nothing. English is probably the easiest of languages to learn >w>;

    January 4, 2012 at 10:00 pm
  • Hayley x

    Bass has two pronociations. As in double bass or fish.
    Also, the last line needs to have a ‘just’ in it to make it fit better.

    January 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm
  • Sue

    I just love the English language with its many foibles

    January 4, 2012 at 10:08 pm
  • Nick C

    Dang. Thought I’d got ‘em all right then checked the pronuciation of Melpomene (‘sing it’, I hear you cry) which relegates me to hoi poloi.
    Here’s a poser: Which of Loughborough, Edinburgh, Middlesbrough is shortened to Boro?

    January 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm
  • Jeremy

    @Christine lmfao welcome to public schools of idiots america -snicker

    January 4, 2012 at 10:20 pm
  • Therese Ellis

    Loved it. I’ll be using that with my students this year for sure!

    January 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm
  • stanzi

    I got the French ones wrong. I shall never learn the way the English pronounce French. For example why is it
    bjʊəroʊ də ˈʃɒ̃ʒ? If you pronouce “bureau” with an English
    “bj” why bother with the nasal sound in “change”?
    Likewise “bouquet” (bookay) etc etc.

    January 4, 2012 at 10:32 pm
  • BMS

    This has been circulating on the Internet with “feoffer” spelled wrong. Thanks for fixing it.

    Plenty of people (particularly in the American Northeast) pronounce “aunt” to rhyme with “gaunt” rather than “grant.”

    January 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm
  • Aaron

    Fluhg says “Rrrrrrrright….you sir, know nothing. English is probably the easiest of languages to learn”

    But that could not be further from the truth. English is harder then Japanese.

    January 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm
  • JConolley

    I found out I didn’t know how to pronounce “victual.” I know that “joust” properly rhymes with “boost,” but no one pronounces it that way anymore.

    January 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm
  • Demimo

    Dear krp,

    I think you might want to check that information before you start spreading it. The Hungarian language and it’s alphabet did not come from German (different language family). Saying that the Hungarians had no langage and they used someone else’s is simply ignorant. (No offense.) Please educate yourself before commenting on something you are not familiar with.
    BTW, the poem was really amazing.

    January 4, 2012 at 10:44 pm
  • Andrew Clark

    I believe it is Middlesborough? Answers on a postcard lol!

    January 4, 2012 at 10:50 pm
  • Cam

    Tony Mechelynck: Wouldn’t “DAH-di-DAH-di-DAH-di-DAH-dit” be trochaic tetrameter, with the emphasis on the odd syllables?

    January 4, 2012 at 10:54 pm
  • Eric

    That is great! Or Grate! I am blown away. Far more thought, cleverness & dedication went into creating that damning poem of English absurdity than anything I’ve ever come up with, and I’m practically a professional complainer about English. See http://daisybrain.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/ten-things-that-bug-me-about-english/

    January 4, 2012 at 10:54 pm
  • erica

    But why (and how?!) would you ever publish such a thing with a zero instead of an O in one of the words!? “Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.”

    January 4, 2012 at 11:00 pm
  • Pat

    Aaron, it’s harder THAN, not harder then…grammar!

    January 4, 2012 at 11:01 pm
  • Smit

    To April,
    pull up your breeches? you may have boobed on that one, surely you mean britches, or maybe not, which is original and which is derivative?
    we may never know.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:02 pm
  • BC

    at least good luck rhyme with fuck!

    January 4, 2012 at 11:20 pm
  • jenna

    As a teacher of English in a foreign country, I will be the first to admit that it sucks due to all the inconsistencies and exceptions to rules. However, it’s also not a pure language (am talking about North American English, specifically) because it borrows from SO MANY other languages and cultures. It’s such a mish-mosh and it confuses the hell out of my students. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been easier to teach Chinese! lol

    January 4, 2012 at 11:25 pm
  • easiest language

    English Is not one of the hardest languages, considering the fact that Icelandic, Japanese, Chinese and Estonian are existing in this world.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:30 pm
  • Verbose

    If you haven’t “run across” at least 80% of these words and you’re over the age of say…..12. You probably need to expand your vocabulary just a bit.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:31 pm
  • Aaron

    @Tony Mechelynck: A disyllabic metric foot that puts the stress on the first syllable only is a trochee, not an iamb. Furthermore, the meter is irregular. “Study English pronunciation” has nine syllables and “Tear in eye, your dress will tear” has seven.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:32 pm
  • usafbrat64

    Love it! I do pride myself on proper pronunciation and am constantly giving my teens a hard time and stressing the need to pronounce things properly and to enunciate when they speak. Also, having living in different parts of the country, I enjoy hearing the regional pronunciations. Although I am dying here in ND, where you put your things in a “beg”, clean up with a “reg”, and the children play “teg”.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm
  • Kathryn

    That was fun!! I believe I did pretty well.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:54 pm
  • storeygirl

    The poem is fun, but based on n inaccurate idea of correct pronunciation. Accent is not incorrect. Above someone mentions aunt rhyming with gaunt, this is the rp as it was known in England, the upper class pronunciation.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm
  • ed Gein

    This was nothing , English is easy!

    January 5, 2012 at 12:02 am
  • Matt Garry

    My brain just exploded.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:04 am
  • Sammi

    Did anyone catch the typo? I’m pretty sure “Fe0ffer” isn’t a word.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:09 am
  • Peter Marchese

    I had to stop and think a moment three times but mostly sailed thru

    January 5, 2012 at 12:19 am
  • Jan

    Natives often pronounce place names differently than outsiders. I lived in Wichita for a few years and they actually do call the river through town, the Arkansas River, the ar-KAN-zes river. I was told it is pronounced that way in Kansas, but not in Missouri (which I hear hear natives pronounce Mizoura, not with an ee sound on the end.) In addition, newcomers to Oregon are obvious. They say the state name as Or-e-GONE. Natives call it Orygun, with the emphasis on the first syllable and a schwa sound at the end.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:22 am
  • Jess

    @easiest language

    I can’t speak for Icelandic, Estonian, or any form of Chinese, but Japanese is structured much more logically than English. It lays down a few simple rules and has only a few exceptions. English’s incredibly chaotic nature is what makes it difficult.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:29 am
  • Martin

    To steal a quote;
    If you take the “gh” from “enough”, the “ot” from “women”, and the “ti” from “negotiate”, the word “ghoti” is pronounced just like “fish”. Welcome to the English language.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:40 am
  • Tyler

    if actually think about it finnish is the hardest language to read, write, and speak in the world as it has fourty-nine different letters and thousands upon thousands of verb phrasingings.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:41 am
  • Aeneas

    You guys are all nerds

    January 5, 2012 at 12:45 am
  • Enter your name...Tracy

    If third graders are now required to pass a test to graduate, I believe this poem should be required to be elected into office. Love it.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:57 am
  • Kelly Norrell

    How do you pronounce “sward”?

    January 5, 2012 at 1:04 am
  • Taq

    English is the hardest to learn? Someone needs to try learning Mandarin. :P

    January 5, 2012 at 1:15 am
  • krp

    Also, there are vowel sounds in the English that do not exist in Hungarian, so the Hungarian alphabet would be grossly inadequate to write English in.

    @Jenny, North American English is a living language BECAUSE it borrows from so many other languages and cultures, North American English readily absorbs words from other languages as it is a melting pot like the country it. A language is a reflection of the people that speak and vice versa. North America is much more open to other cultures and languages while “British” is just more restrictive, just as the country it. In fact we have no problem speaking them in their correct pronunciation, such as “Jalapeno” which the British pronounce almost like “jalopy”
    Try to get a Brit to say “vacation”. They can’t do it, because it’s too “French”.

    Do you speak a foreign language? Much of the inconsistencies come from French which English is about 40%. It is also these inconsistencies which make English grammar so simple. Otherwise we would have a myriad of case endings such as in Czech or Polish.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:23 am
  • Cringe

    That wasn’t really a challenge.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:25 am
  • Miki Davis

    thanks to my Mother, I have been studying words since I was able to open her old dictionary somewhere around the age of 2 or 3 years. So I loved it and did very well. have one question though, have never seen the word “Fe0ffer” and can find it nowhere in online or in any dictionary. Is it possible that this is a typographical error?

    January 5, 2012 at 1:32 am
  • beata

    Surprised that someone mentioned Estonian. Its not easy,but not one of the hardest for sure.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:36 am
  • M

    @Aaron: Metre has very little to do with syllables. It does have an irregular metre, but you can’t just count syllables to ascertain that.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:43 am
  • mia g

    oh i like this poem… In terms of phonetics, spelling and logic English is by far one of the most difficult languages if not the hardest… In terms of grammar however it’s one of the more basic languages, we don’t have much. No genders, no cases… I think it’s only in tense when we try to sound smart and fancy. Oh and rigid syntax… Poetry’s a relief from that.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:15 am
  • Pauletta

    I just wanted to point out that in the UK it’s spelled aluminium not aluminum and thus is pronounced differently.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:17 am
  • Edward Oneil

    I think it was not so hard, but there are some words very difficult to pronunciate together. try to pronunce hebrew language.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:17 am
  • Britt

    Having taken English and Japanese I must say English was indeed more difficult that Japanese! In fact I found Japanese not hard to learn at all! I would rather take it in school than English, and English is my first and only other language. English is called the hardest as the lack of structure same words with multiple meanings and spellings and the slang that is used day to day. And I have to agree with that.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:20 am
  • Jane

    If you’ve studied as many languages as I have, then you are allowed to comment on how INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT English is as a language. To think otherwise is foolish.

    Though it is definitely not the hardEST.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:22 am
  • Star

    Most of this works for a Pacific Northwest American accent, though there are a few exceptions where the pronunciation I grew up learning is not applicable. I wonder what the author’s accent is that would allow for this entire poem to work.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:25 am
  • Debette

    Very interesting. I love languages and have read several books on the origins of English. (I am a grammer snob too) Bill Bryson has written a couple that are very entertaining! J’aime beaucoup de français aussi!

    January 5, 2012 at 2:57 am
  • Steve

    “English Is not one of the hardest languages, considering the fact that Icelandic, Japanese, Chinese and Estonian are existing in this world.”

    I’m a native English speaker but also speak Japanese (and three other languages), and teach English pronunciation. Japanese grammar, syntax, honorific language etc. are all much more difficult than English (for native English speakers), but pronunciation-wise Japanese wins hands down, being almost completely phonetically written, many fewer vowel sounds, and only one “pure” written consonant.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:00 am
  • Lindsay

    Japanese is not a difficult language.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:03 am
  • Debette

    OMG! I mean…grammar! ugh It’s a shame I can’t spell. A real shame. Merde.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:17 am
  • Melanie Mullikin

    Interesting example. English is generally considered a hard language not because of pronunciation, but because we do not follow a standard formula for word placement. IE: “I don’t think so.” We know it means you disagree with something, not that you gave it no consideration or thought.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:18 am
  • Darla Anderson

    I had fun with it. But I do confess that there were about 3 words I did not know quite how to pronounce. Maybe I have been saying some of these words wrong all along! A sad confession for an English Major.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:22 am
  • patrioticduo

    One feels like one has entered the minotaur maze and successfully made out of it but it was a close run thing.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:32 am
  • Vicky

    Aaaaa they spelled “labour” wrong! in the instructions so guess they are not as apt as think they are huh!

    “a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard **labour** to reading”

    January 5, 2012 at 3:41 am
  • simone

    I think there are a few typos. I consider myself quite well-read, but have never seen the word loth before, nor feOffer, nor ay. Oh, and somewhere the “won’t” is missing its apostrophe.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:46 am
  • Deedit

    @easiest language: Japanese is grammatically and phonetically very simple, you could become a fluent speaker relatively quickly. The only difficult part is memorizing the thousands of written characters needed to read and write competently. I don’t know anything about Icelandic or Estonian, but Chinese is definitely a hard one.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:05 am
  • MArkus

    Having troubles? Viscount got me! The Google Dictionary extension for Google Chrome makes this poem really useful… you can highlight the word by double clicking on it and you will have the word and its meaning right there… even better you can press a little button to hear its pronunciation.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:09 am
  • Glenn

    A relative was a field biologist studying the mating behavior of large cats in the wild. She had to cancel her project after she caught tuberculosis, so… my COUGHING COUSIN COULDN’T COUNT COURTING COUGARS.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:26 am
  • Vikii Wenzel

    Are you kidding??? Japanese pronunciation is WAY easier, as is their spelling (with the syllabaries).

    This poem is awesome, well worth all the work it must have taken.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:49 am
  • SHG

    This poem highlights the idiosyncrasies of English SPELLING, not pronunciation. Try reading this poem to someone and see if they find it funny. They won’t, because you have to READ it to get the point.

    In fact all this poem does is illustrate why English is phenomenally successful as a language. It adopts foreign words where doing so improves English.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:04 am
  • Tony Mechelynck

    @Cam: Trochaic? Hmm… I guess you’re right. :”) Iambic would be di-DAH then. Shows how little I learnt in six years of Latin at six 50-minute lessons a week (but ending in June 1967). Most of the Latin verse we did was dactylic hexameters anyway. (And our English lessons never went that far because my native and schooling language is French. And speaking of that, I really enjoyed the poem, but I’m no Frenchman: I lived all my life near Brussels, Belgium, astride the French-Dutch language border and less than 100 statute miles from England on one side and Germany on the other.)

    January 5, 2012 at 5:21 am
  • puhleze

    easy- breezy-covergirl

    January 5, 2012 at 5:28 am
  • carebear

    @easiest language: I might be inclined to agree with you if you could speak it properly. “…and Estonian are existing in this world.” is extremely poor grammar, but you would know that if you could actually speak the language.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:33 am
  • Gary Canham

    loved it and scored 100%, cos I am English, but educated in Australia.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:37 am
  • Kumar Vishwa Ranjan

    it was really great to go through..Even i enjoyed reading.Agreat poem…I can say with great pleasure English is not so tough….

    January 5, 2012 at 5:50 am
  • Robert

    The English language is over-rated. We need to get back to grunting.

    January 5, 2012 at 6:04 am
  • Aidros

    @English being the easiest language

    If you know the language and have spent your life using it, it will naturally be easier in your mind.

    However, to outsiders who do not know, it is a difficult, very uphill battle to master.

    January 5, 2012 at 6:06 am
  • Tony Mechelynck

    @Aaron: about trochaic vs. iambic, see my answer to Cam above.
    About the meter being irregular: less so than the so-called dactylic hexameters of my youth (where any meter except — usually — the penultimate could be spondaic and the last one was never dactylic but either spondaic or trochaic) or than the limerick meter which is nominally anapestic but with a lot of variation — admittedly in a light genre, while Latin dactylic verse were as serious as Victor Hugo’s /alexandrins/.
    What I meant was that there are systematically four stressed syllables per verse, alternating with (almost always) one unstressed syllable, and starting (almost always) on a stress. The case of “TEAR in EYE, your DRESS will TEAR” is not irregular if you notice that half the distychs in the poem have so-called masculine rhymes (i.e. ending on a stressed syllable). About the other, let’s look up the stress pattern of “pronunciation”… [pɹəˌnʌnsiˈeɪʃən], so the extra syllable in “STUdy ENglish proNOUNciAtion” is a schwa. Yet it still introduces an imbalance, and as soon as the second verse…

    (And yes, I can be just as pedantic as anyone when the fancy strikes me; I’ve been a teacher myself, albeit of math and physics. ;-) )

    January 5, 2012 at 6:10 am
  • jorda

    We’re of course at the mercy of dialectic and regional differences. These are quirky and historically inundated deep orthographies and therefore present a difference between the difficulty of learning a language; namely, with a phonetic alphabet, most of this would seem silly, but this is on par with certain aspects of more difficult languages. English is great for easy, basic usage because of its effective absence of gender from article and conjugation and concise sentence structure, but it is extremely difficult to master.

    January 5, 2012 at 6:12 am
  • Tony Mechelynck

    Oops… and before someone corrects me, when I said “anapestic”, I meant “amphibrachic”.

    January 5, 2012 at 6:16 am
  • Xiaohuixiang

    at easiest languagel…., I’ve studied English, Chinese, Japanese, thai, german etc, and by far, English has the MOST difficult structure, and rules ( aside from German), so I count my blessings I am able to speak this fluently!

    January 5, 2012 at 6:18 am
  • Leah

    Actually, many of these words are not of English origin. That is why there is very little consistency across spelling and pronunciation. It’s not English’s fault! Unless you argue that it’s our fault for adopting these words in the first place…

    January 5, 2012 at 6:34 am
  • Ed

    @Tony – dude are you just trying to show off or something? Talk about run-on sentences! As to that pathetic excuse of a poem up there? Someone needs to get a life…

    January 5, 2012 at 6:38 am
  • mabcymraeg@gmail.com

    I think they tool poetic license with the meter

    January 5, 2012 at 6:45 am
  • addy

    wow!! it’s really hard…whew!!!

    January 5, 2012 at 6:53 am
  • Violet

    All the words I knew, I could pronounce…

    January 5, 2012 at 7:24 am
  • allen j

    This is very nice, but it ain’t that hard really. And I do agree that english is not the most difficult to learn, so long as Icelandic, Japanese, Chinese and Estonian are existing in this world.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:37 am
  • maki

    Hahaha. Love it. Slipped on the first “tear” cuz i’s in a hurry and ignored te context clue provided on the line.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:38 am
  • SfazzY

    “Icelandic, Japanese, Chinese and Estonian”? Sorry, Lads, but thats nothing compared to polish.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:06 am
  • lama lama

    Try to pronounce polish words then :)

    January 5, 2012 at 8:08 am
  • Caroline

    I think i nailed it and it made me very happy !!
    I also think this poem should be used in all schools that
    use The English Language as first or second language.
    We all need ” brain work”
    Show us more ……

    January 5, 2012 at 8:08 am
  • Vadim

    Finnish is the simples language in Europe actually. (An opinion stated by scientists from Finland)

    January 5, 2012 at 8:11 am
  • Ben

    To the people that say English is one of the easiest languages to learn, they must be native speakers who have trouble learning a new language. But English is one of the more complicated languages to learn as a second language, compared to other languages. And the proof, is when you hear people int he United Sttaes speak, most of them make several pronunciation mistakes without realizing it, and they are native speakers of the language!

    January 5, 2012 at 8:57 am
  • Jesus

    One thing I always wondered, in America, so many people pronounce the word REALTOR as (RE-lah-ter) instead of how it’s spelled and supposed to be pronounced (Real-tor). How do people make a mistake in pronunciation with words that sound like they are spelled?? Like LIBRARY, being pronounced (LIE-berry)?

    January 5, 2012 at 9:01 am
  • snooky

    how does a person know they pronounced these correctly by reading this? A lot of people say they did well, but how do they know it came out right?

    January 5, 2012 at 9:05 am
  • Gemini

    Just a pity there’s no podcast associated to help us check our pronunciation… how can you say you scored 100% ? Anyway, that was fun ! Thank you !

    January 5, 2012 at 9:27 am
  • Paul

    Surely this could be shortened using text speech. It’s way too long.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:36 am
  • Alex

    Nowhere near 10% of native English speakers can pronounce all of these words correctly. I question if 1% can. I would be surprised if any of the people claiming 100% here didn’t actually miss at least one.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:04 am
  • Martin

    Native English speakers, like Australians & Americans (from the USA) are the laziest pronouncers of English. I know it sounds like I’m beating up my own culture but many speak what they hear but in our childhood we got told we were lazy speakers. Now we are bemoaning those who bemoan the use of English- it’s kind of like an infection you get within an infection in your body…no stopping it.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:37 am
  • Stevenredd

    For those chiming in about the “foreign” nature of many of the words:

    “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”

    –James Nicoll

    January 5, 2012 at 10:57 am
  • Cole Pascua

    Whoa! This is so amazing. Hmm… There should be a video or some audio that can explain the correct pronunciation though :) If there is please provide the link! :D

    January 5, 2012 at 10:59 am
  • Carolyn

    So Polish is tough to polish?

    January 5, 2012 at 11:04 am
  • stacey

    I love a good poem but not long winded one’s. What was the point of putting a bunch of words from the dictionary just to test someone’s speach or annunciation? Make it more challenging use original English text and see how many ppl get it. My kid’s don’t even know that cuz schools just dnt teach Shakespeare or the language he spoke. That ie still hard for me

    January 5, 2012 at 11:05 am
  • stacey

    My bad for misspelled words, the letters r too close to each other and I do short hand.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:10 am
  • Keith

    There seems to be an implicit assumption in several of the responses that there is a single “correct” way to pronounce any particular word. Anyone who has seen Stephen Fry’s recent TV series will have learned that in some parts of England, the pronunciation of the word “house”, for example, is indistinguishable from the word “arse”, and who are we to say these people are wrong?

    Another example: where to place the stress in the word “harassment” is largely a cultural issue. Is one English speaker wrong and another correct?

    An American friend of mine refers to croissants as “cross aunts” – should I be correcting him?

    Agreed, there are some pronunciations that are (currently) wrong. “Haunt” should probably never rhyme with “aunt” but who is to say that even these rules are sacrosanct and not liable to change in this, a living, language.

    I do, however, agree with the basic tenet that spelling is not always an unambiguous guide to pronunciation. I, for one, am glad that English is my mother tongue and that I therefore acquired it rather than learned it.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:21 am
  • Rynth

    someone show this poem to Singaporeans and make them read it!!! XD

    January 5, 2012 at 11:28 am
  • Sol

    The only way to learn in this country is to teach yourself. Which, coincidentally, is what I did. Or was forced to do, more like. 18 and successful in English is quite a feat, especially when all of your peers sound like cats regurgitating.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:33 am
  • megan

    The reason us native english aka americans say liberry (I don’t) is because americans are lazy! They would rather say what creates less work for their jaw haha. I being american thought this was really fun and its wierd to see people say English is hard to learn cause I thought it was the easiest that is ofcoarse cause its native to me… Whats an easy language to learn other then spanish?

    January 5, 2012 at 11:47 am
  • Donald Smith

    This is clearly an imitation of: The English Lesson. The poem has nothing to do with pronunciation but simply the general inconsistency of English spelling. As an EFL teacher nothing is more counterproductive to the learning of English (or any language) than the memory of pointless words and exceptions to rules by professors who can not even write a basic sentence. The poem is cute but not insightful.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm
  • jessica

    i enjoyed it very much. it’s a lovely poem… thanks a lot for the poet!

    January 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm
  • marie-hélène

    Damned : I’m French. Don’t laugh and try to pronounce “Turlututu” and you’ll be the best … ;-)

    January 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm
  • calvin

    I just love it.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm
  • Rohingya

    To all you

    Learning a language, any language, comes with certain difficulties. It has less to do with the difficulty of the language but more to do with the willingness and openmindedness of the learner. Any of the languages mentioned above is developed well enough to have lasted through centuries of communication and published widely by various authors. All you have to do is learn the grammar and memorize the vocab and bingo! You are well on your way to communicating with others who speak the said language. This isn’t rocket science folks. English is my third language. I’ve no doubt I did better than most native speakers on reading this poem. Now, if you really want to be challenged linguistically then I suggest you look up rohingya. It hasn’t been written down. The only way to learn it is verbally from another native speaker. There are rules but they can be mended quite easily and the vocabulary is rationed not for efficiency but certain things just didn’t exist at the time when the language was developed such as the word sink. Contrary to popular belief, languages were constructed to bring people together and create a sense of unity and civility. In my humble opinion, we’ve only created barriers and hierarchies that …

    January 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm
  • joan mcguigan ashcroft

    Never thought the Americans had the right idea of spelling the words as pronounced until now!

    January 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm
  • Rohingya

    Crippled humanity. Lastly I just wanna point out if you really want to see a better world, learn another language. Visit the country and see things through their eyes and accept their culture as they live it. Maybe a better world, a more tolerable world will emerge from it.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm
  • ky

    what makes this hard is cultural differences and regional differences, even for native speakers because our pronunciation is based off the context of where we learned words and how the local population speaks. A man from new york city could say a word, to a man from new Orleans and then man from new Orleans could say the same word and sound completely different, the meanings are the same they are spelled the same, but the region you are from determines how it is said. I’m currently going through a re-education of some sort I’m from Florida and I’m now in Hawaii. I have a hard time pronouncing the street names or even the town names, but they speak English just like the rest of the U.S, its just how they pronounce the vowels that is different from what I’m use to.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm
  • marc de berner

    It was easy.. I did it with a pure Sarf Lundun accent :)

    January 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm
  • Tyler

    Nearly everywhere has accent so everyone that reads this may think that they did it 100% but really they did not.if your interested you can look at city-data and see that The Northwest of the United States has the least amount of accent like Washington and Oregon. so if you want to hear it correct have a friend from there read it to you.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm
  • Dancing Mango Man

    Too long; didn’t Read. kidding… This was actually quite entertaining :D There were some words that i had to look up only because i rarely/never encounter them. This was good fun indeed

    January 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm
  • Sarah Vazquez

    I loved this. I have an obsession with words and so yes I pronounced each word correctly ;)

    January 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm
  • Abraham Lincoln

    Americans don’t speak English. They speak a language that is very similar. You don’t just remove random letters from certain words in English, like the ‘u’ in Aluminium, and leave it in others, like Uranium.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm
  • dutch

    but how do i know if i pronounced good?

    January 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm
  • Monya Clayton

    Fortunately I’m Australian and have read good English all my life. Understood the lot and ended up with a headache. Took concentration, but it was fun!

    January 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm
  • Johoho

    You write the sentence:

    “But, how do I know if I pronounced (it) well?”

    That’s how you know.

    January 5, 2012 at 2:56 pm
  • Shari

    you mean whether you pronounced it WELL? :)

    January 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm
  • Deb Milne-OBrien

    Truly, many supposedly English-speaking Americans should read and try to speak/pronounce these! It was fun!

    January 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm
  • Antonio Quispe

    Could you please upload the audio file. It could be very helpful to check the correct pronunciation and learn form it.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm
  • jaqui

    hahaha, I can do it with 2 wines :P

    January 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm
  • Emma

    Loved that, he’s got a point though! :-)

    January 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm
  • Ruth Sieber

    I did exceptionally well, even for an American! But what’s with the weird typo “FeOffer”?

    January 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm
  • Bob H

    OK, I read quite a few verses but in the end TL;DR. Fortunately I am literate enough only to have stumbled on the references to Greek muses.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm
  • Marcelo Negrini

    I am Brazilian, and I learned English very early, mostly by reading and watching subtitled movies. I lived in the US for some years, and still don’t know every single English word, although people consider my vocabulary and pronunciation very good. Two tools I use to improve them: reading books on Kindle, and check the included dictionary for those words I grasp the meaning, but never actually looked in a dictionary before. Then I go to some dictionary site/app (varies if on desktop or iPad) to hear the pronunciation, if the word feels “strange” (yeah, subjective). My wish is for Kindle to offer audio pronunciation inside their apps.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm
  • Han

    i don’t want to live on this planet anymore!

    January 5, 2012 at 4:11 pm
  • Chris

    I’ll give you as hint… If you say ‘pronounced good’ or ‘read good’ then you’re in the 90%. Good is an adjective, well is an adverb. ‘Pronounced well’ and ‘read well’ are correct.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:13 pm
  • Michael W. Ollinger

    Very entertaining poem! I’d be interested to hear the pronunciation differences between UK, US and AU-English speakers!

    January 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm
  • singaporean

    @rynth: i just did. read it out loud even. it’s fun, but i didn’t really see the point – it’s not difficult as long as you know the words, as there isn’t a reference recording provided, so you don’t know what the writer was thinking of when he spoke of ‘correct’ pronunciation. therefore, i can read the whole thing in an english that i have been told sounds vaguely american to british people and british to american people (and generally british when i get drunk, and it tends to vary with whatever i’m hearing at the time. xD) i can probably read it in a singaporean accent with a bit of thought (because most of the words in the poem would never be used by a singaporean speaking in a singaporean accent, so i don’t think i’ve actually heard them before) but i’m not going to try. i think that might actually be more difficult.

    frankly, while cute, this poem really only highlights the fact that everyone in the world speaks with an accent. even the english themselves. theirs just happens to be the accepted ‘correct’ pronunciation, which is as it should be since (putting aside the fact that english is a racemic language – and there’s a word that isn’t pronounced the way it looks) they live in the land where it ostensibly came from. and even then, not everyone in the country speaks Received Pronunciation (RP), which is the generally accepted ‘correct’ english pronunciation for linguistics purposes, so it’s arguable if RP should be considered ‘correct’ if even the natives of the country don’t speak it.

    singaporeans have been arguing among themselves for the last decade or two about whether our ‘singlish’ is something to be embarrassed of. my take on it is – the accent is not. it’s just as valid as an american accent, or a london accent, or an irish accent, or a canadian accent. the slang we use, however, is not part of standard english and should not be used when in international company, just as a foreign language shouldn’t be used in front of people who can’t understand it. but as long as we use the words correctly and can be understood, there is no need to attempt to ape the accent of what is, in the end, a very small section of all english speakers.

    so there’s no need to argue about whether it was easy or not…as long as you’re a fluent speaker of the language, it should have been easy to read it – reading it in RP is the difficult part, but is it truly necessary? to be frank, if you spoke RP in normal life, most people would have difficulty understanding you. on top of that, english isn’t latin or ancient greek or even middle english – it’s not a dead language. you can study a ‘correct’ pronunciation of latin because it’s never going to change and everyone in the world who can speak it speaks it the same way. english, however, is alive, and it evolves. RP is a snapshot of english as it was when it was considered the epitome of ‘correct’ english. the world has since moved quite far away from that. it’s useful to have a benchmark for the sake of linguistic studies, but other than that, it has very little use in reality. it’s like saying the first car was the benchmark for all cars since, so every car should be built like that first car, regardless of technological advances since. we honor that first car (or rather its creator,) but that doesn’t mean we should never advance beyond it. besides, with the text and internet lingo that’s ubiquitous today, that would be absolutely impossible to make backwards compatible with RP but is so much a part of our speech, does benchmarking accent and pronunciation to some ideal standard that isn’t suited to today’s world really matter that much anymore?

    on the poem itself – i would like to point out that putting in a greek goddess’ name (melpomene) is pure CHEATING. xDD actually, names in general are just mean. i’ve never had to say islington correctly, so i have no idea how to…though from the isle of wight next to it i can make an educated guess. :)

    January 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm
  • Joel

    Well, I enjoyed it. I shall be showing it to my pupils despite Donald’s poorly punctuated critique. The comments are somewhat amusing too, for a little while at least.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm
  • Andrew

    To check go look for videos on YouTube for the poem named ‘The Chaos’ by Gerard Nolst.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm
  • richard

    Dutch – it’s “how do I know if I pronounced correctly”.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm
  • Kate

    Well, dutch, you have failed! I think you want to know if you pronounced it WELL.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm
  • Carrie

    Wind, live, bass, and tear are bad examples because their pronunciation is dependent upon context. And aunt does rhyme with haunt, if you’re from New England.

    Just sayin’.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm
  • dorkfish

    This is a fail…you don’t know if you’ve read it correctly or not.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm
  • susan

    If you have ever taught English as a Second Language (i have in Japan) then you get what this is about instantly. Our pronunciation is outlandishly self-contradicting.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm
  • ernie

    I read through this rhyme
    and it took up some time.
    And my being from Maine
    might not quite explain,
    Why I think I am right
    while on keyboard I type.
    And why this intrigued me
    I may never know.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm
  • john

    I’m pretty sure Arkansas is a Native American word. I might be wrong though and don’t feel like looking it up.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm
  • Kunal

    there are many words out of rhyme, i guess it is meant to make us remember how they pronounced correctly, just try to go against the instinct

    January 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm
  • robin

    well i think for a dutch guy… i did it good enough:D
    but my writing can be better!

    January 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm
  • Clare Astley

    Pronunciation is only one problem with our language. EG:
    Was”dove”, at one time only a bird, and not the past tense
    of dive, as well? What’s wrong with “dived?”

    January 5, 2012 at 5:49 pm
  • shane

    I am an American and though we are told we a being taught English in school we are not it’s American..We haven’t spoke English in 100′s of years..The few English lads I’ve known said we don’t speak English and I would have to agree..and except for a few words I didn’t know..I had no problem pronouncing any of it…

    January 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm
  • Frans

    It is clear. English is (or was) not acceptable as a global language!

    January 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm
  • Rizaleano

    I check using the speech assistant of iPhone 4 iOS 5 version, works well.

    January 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm
  • Ser

    Umm…………so which words are ‘out of rhyme’ Kunal?

    They may not be perfect but despite re-reading the poem several times I’m unable to find any 2 lines which dont rhyme ..

    January 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm
  • Jeff



    @Singporean: You love to wear your undies in the public don’t you? Though you may write well, your mechanics of the language are atrocious. Are you so adverse to capitalization or simple so lazy to use the shift key on the keyboard. Hence, my reason that you like to wear undies in the public. You ain’t no Madonna. At least she is respectable off stage (her clothing that is).

    January 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm
  • Samuel


    The poem was written such that the last word of every pair of lines rhyme… the only pair that I don’t get is ‘chair’ and ‘mayor’

    January 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm
  • yourmum

    All those ppl who took the time to correct Dutch…

    Recognise a joke when you see one ?

    January 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm
  • Mansoor

    In English language, your feet smell and nose run!

    January 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm
  • Lamb

    I was amazed to stumble across The Chaos to-day – I was given an annonymous copy 45 years ago, typed on air-mail paper, which I still have and this is the first time I’ve ever seen it in the public domain. Just for the record The Chaos was written in the trenches during the First World War by way of entertainment rather than being didactic. I’m a teacher of English and have delighted many a speaker of other laguages with its brilliant wit and fascinating exploration of the roots of our mongrel tongue – a thoroughly enjoyable demostration of the vagaries and wonders of the English language. Thank you!

    January 5, 2012 at 6:37 pm
  • M.C.

    I do rhyme aunt with haunt (I leave “ant” to Americans), and the “wind” in one line is ambiguous (there’s no way to know if it meant air-wind or watch-wind), but overall this is fabulous.
    Dove (past tense dive) is fine, though not the standard U.S. usage these days, but I just can’t say ‘dived.’ Several of the old English “strong verbs” changed vowel when they went to past tense: drive/drove, fling/flung, hang/hung (though the current correct past tense is “hanged” if the subject is human-otherwise it’s “hung”).

    January 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm
  • Simon Brown

    A little bit of latin and a little bit of celtic and a little bit of German and quite a lot of French, a little bit of hindhi and a pinch of caribbean, all mixed up in a mixing bowl and plonked upon a bench…

    That’s English. 2500 years of absorbing everyone else’s languages means we have a plethora of words for everything – more details here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI5uekd517s&feature=share

    But the best thing about English is that you can utterly muller it and we will still understand you. I hear terrible, terrible English pronunciation, by those for whom it is a second language, and it’s fine. For goodness sake, don’t worry. We will usually understand you. Occasionally I’ve had to ask people to write the word down if it’s really bad but usually I will get the gist, no matter how badly you pronounce. It’s a surprisingly forgiving language – I think because as a native speaker you are expected to be able to perform these lexical somersaults. After all with native regional accents varying from Glaswegian, through Ulster, Northumbria, Georgie, Yorkshire, Lancs and Liverpool, West Midlands, Norfolk, London and deepest Cornish via Bristol – not to mention Wales north and south – it’s hard enough understanding each other.

    I spend a lot of time in Spain and do my best to speak in Spanish – my accent is passable (I’m told) but sometimes I put the emphasis on the beginning of the word by mistake rather than the end. In England you’d understand me. Here people respond with “Que? Que?” as though I was speaking Japanese…

    By the way singaporean – Islington is pronounced pretty much as written – Iz-ling-tun.

    But as I was saying – English is fine as a global language as long as you accept that everybody speaks it differently :)

    January 5, 2012 at 6:49 pm
  • Simon Brown

    oh balls – typo – Geordie. Please correct :)

    January 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm
  • HaughtDish

    @Carrie; True true true!
    Silly and a huge waste of time.

    January 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm
  • Miriam

    I love it! because it is useful and funny.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm
  • Beth Masino

    I didn’t find it so very difficult… whenever in doubt, chose the pronunciation the RHYMES! It is, after all, a poem.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm
  • Kimball Hugh Bradshaw

    I recommend practicing this poem outloud and as an habit. The thing is is the English language deserves better attention to its perfecting than to its vernacularizing. “Why can’t the English learn to speak!” -George Bernard Shaw – going on 100 years ago ! ! !

    January 5, 2012 at 7:15 pm
  • Kimball Hugh Bradshaw

    Me auntie Spumanti spins yarns, while my aunt Traficant gathers skeins on a bobbin. They plan to weave and embroider.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm
  • Frankie

    My head hurts, and I almost made it halfway through…

    January 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm
  • John Slattery

    Dear Chris “Good is an adjective, well is an adverb.” However, “well” is also an adjective (when it refers to health) – I was sick, but now I’m well.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm
  • Elliott

    Hmm ‎”correct” pronunication? With the assumption this is standard American English and disregards dialect. Then again, considering other acceptable phonetic variations, the idea of “correct” pronunciation can be fairly subjective. Personally, I think the conventions of grammar are much more important in conveying one’s meaning, moreso than “correct” pronunciation.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:47 pm
  • Timothy Barton

    “Blood and flood are not like food,
    Nor is mould like should and would”

    The rhyming scheme disappears here. This would be better:

    “Food is not like blood and flood,
    Nor is mould like should and would”

    January 5, 2012 at 7:49 pm
  • Dave

    Born and raised in Chicago, and got every word, including the Greek, without a great deal of effort. We’re not all stupid Americans.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm
  • Newt Gingrich

    Oh yes and ALL poems rhyme…

    I like Han’s comment.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm
  • Claudio Silva

    An esperantist friend sent me this one. No wonder the great writer George Bernard Shaw wanted to change the English ortography to a phonetical one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavian_alphabet). I’m brazilian and my native Portuguese language has the same problems: the grammar and ortography were historically fixed in past times, and the language changes, so now the spoken vernacular has little to do with the cult, written norm. It happens to all natioal languages, for the incentive to speak like anyone else (intercommunication) is greater than that to stick to old rules. The only actually used language I know to which this did not happen is Esperanto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto), for its alphabet was phonetic from the beginning, its words were fromed “a priori” and everyone tries to speak it according to the norms established in 1887, otherwise the language would not fulfill its auxiliary neutral international purpose anyway. Even so, we have accents, but they do not disturb understanding.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm
  • mna

    Beth- That is the opposite of what you should be doing. The point of the poem is that what is written similarly is often pronounced vastly different. There are some lines where four of the words rhyme and the last is different. You’re missing the point if you just guess and assume you’re correct.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm
  • Steve

    English spelling is an unreliable guide to pronunciation. That was the point of Dr. Trenité’s poem. Parts of it have been republished numerous times often to demonstrate to ESL students how impossible English is to pronounce or read aloud. Over 40% of the most common 10,000 words in English contain at least one spelling irregularity.

    The scholarly reference for this Concordance of Cacographic Chaos is http://www.spellingsociety.org/journals/j17/caos.php

    The first known version of The Chaos appeared as an appendix (Aanhangsel) to the 4th edition of Dr. Nolst Trenité’s schoolbook Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen. Dr. Trenité died in 1944.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm
  • Branka

    We need an audio file of this. Who volunteers to do it?

    January 5, 2012 at 7:59 pm
  • wjcynx1

    Yeah, seriously, I’m almost positive that Dutch was making a well-executed joke about ‘good’ vs. ‘well’ that pertained to the poem, and you all missed it so you could get your daily dose of pedantic sniping on the internets. And Jeff, take it easy on singaporean: his/her comment was clear and easily understandable, so who cares about the capitalization or minute mechanics. Also, you misspelled sing(a)porean…

    January 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm
  • Camila

    I am a former English Teacher in Brazil, I´ve studied English for 12 years and I´ve lived in Washington D.C for six months. My first language is Portuguese, in case you think it´s Spanish…
    After reading the poem aloud, I had my tongue dried out, kkk, it was very fun, I loved it!

    January 5, 2012 at 8:16 pm
  • Alex

    “Dived” is incorrect in America as well.

    Also, we remove the “i” from aluminium, not the “u”. I have no idea why this exists. Probably something corporate America did when they started selling us foil.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:17 pm
  • Pauline

    Lovely! I really enjoyed that, although I had to concentrate.

    I find it interesting that the (genius) poet asserts that ‘feoffer’ rhymes with ‘deafer’. It’s an optional pronunciation, but I would use ‘fee-fer’ as the root for ‘feoff’ is ‘fief’.

    Alas, I’m still not sure if lichen should be pronounced ‘litch-en’ or ‘like-un’ – my dictionary gives both options. I would appreciate any advice on this, as I have to read a poem in public that contains the word.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:25 pm
  • Susan Price

    As a speaker of Wisconsin-accented English, a former student of linguistics, and a former adult ESL teacher both in California and abroad, I can see where this would be difficult for non-native American English speakers (not so sure about RP, though). Not difficult for those of us from Canada and the US. Can’t speak for the Aussies, or the Kiwis.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm
  • Ray

    As an American who dabbles in botany, there is an on-going debate about how “scientific” names of plants are to be pronounced. I don’t care much, if I can understand what someone is saying, that is sufficient. One botany text advises “When someone presumes to correct your pronunciation, a knowing smile is an appropriate response.” I think that is is appropriate for this too.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm
  • Meg

    “Tour, but our and succour, four.
    Gas, alas, and Arkansas.”

    Um. Pardon a Canadian, but how does “four” rhyme with “Arkansas”? I’m trying to say “four” with a British accent and I still can’t do it.

    For reference, I would pronounce it “for” with the distinct r on the end and “ar’-kin-saw”. Are there other ways to pronounce Arkansas that I don’t know about?

    January 5, 2012 at 8:48 pm
  • Jyn.

    I suppose one should define ‘correct’ in this challenge. Correct English pronunciation.. I’m from California, so my ‘correct’ pronunciation of these words sounds different from my cousin’s in Florida. Both of us sound wickedly different than the Scottish guy who drove me around Scotland, which also differs from anyone in England. Linguistically, you could argue there is only one ‘correct’ pronunciation, but each of us were taught how to speak in our locality as we grew up and we understand each other just fine. For every dialect of English, there will be a new ‘correct’ way to pronounce it.

    Also, accents are fun. It makes learning English difficult, but it makes English that much more universal.

    January 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm
  • anerbenartzi

    @jaqul, from the comments, I gather that many people did it with at least 2 whines ;)

    January 5, 2012 at 9:15 pm
  • Tessa

    I am South African…..from Cape Town ( the accents do vary from city to city) and over the years have had it assumed that I come fom England. When we visited the US, we were asked “what language do you speak AT HOME?” with bizarre enunciation of the words “at home”, as if we were idiots or likely to come up with a different answer. It was all I could do not to reply that the language my friends and I spoke was closer to English than that of the enunciator. But then I also watched 3 out of 4 people, on a TV game show, name Africa as their favourite country in South America. They just lost an entire continent – how we laughed!

    January 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm
  • Clemson Page

    I had a group of friends from Great Britain. They found my American English quite amusing and lampooned it brutally. Every so often one of them would turn to me and say, “My friends and I are going to speak English for a few minutes. Please don’t be offended.”

    January 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm
  • Jaxon

    @Jeff you are a douche. Can you pronounce that word? Some creepy little perv picking at singaporean and talking about “undies”? What’s wrong with you? I hope your gene pool ends with you.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:01 pm
  • Daumarc

    Very interesting. This poem is to know if you know accent the word when you speak!!

    January 5, 2012 at 10:05 pm
  • Elizabeth

    I still have trouble with “mauve”. My 11th grade English teacher insisted that the “au” was pronounced like a long “o” but every time I pronounce it that way someone feels the need to correct me.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:32 pm
  • HEP

    As a former student of English and an ESL teacher, I think this poem illustrates what is wonderful about the English language: its variety, its roots in other words, its character, and its nonsensical charm.

    It’s not a computer language of 0s and 1s, thank goodness.

    English rolls along and picks up new words and meaning from many other languages. It’s spoken across the world with different accents and vocabulary. It should be celebrated for the living, growing, widely rooted creation that it is.

    And, yes, I have lived in England and N. Ireland and been teased about my vocab and accent! But you try to get an English person and American person to say “banana” to each other without laughing…

    January 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm
  • Mary Elizabeth

    thought I was being allowed
    to read this aloud….
    but with hands over ears
    my daughter cried “oughter
    you be doin’ this outside?”
    I cried.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm
  • Ray Knowles

    It’s a long, fun verse. But all it demonstrates is that some people get english pronunciation and some don’t. I never went to one year of real school, and my grammar would appall my mother who is a proofreader. Still, I wonder how many of us used our spell-check, or dictionary while composing witty responses. Haha. Fun to read though.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:12 pm
  • John Birch

    Claudio – there are a number of languages where spelling follows pronunciation, rather than being set in historical aspic (as in the case of English). The one I know best is Welsh, where spellings change (“mutate”) to match the way exactly the way words are pronounced, ie “yn Cymru” (“in Wales”) is more correctly written as “yng Gymru” because that is how it would sound.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm
  • Pauline

    @Meg. As a Brit, I can’t detect any difference in the vowel sounds of ‘four’ and the last syllable of ‘Arkinsas’. ‘Four’ is ‘faw’, as in ‘Ark-in-saw’. Hope that helps.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm
  • David

    This is directed toward Dave from, born and raised in Chicago, who was 3rd to comment about getting all of it correct and we are not all stupid americans….I knowticed that the poem didnt have the words…wash and car….which i founf most Chcagoites pronounce as warsh, and Ka…yea maybe my spelling isnt that great either… but i still love to hear that ever so often..

    January 5, 2012 at 11:25 pm
  • David

    Meg…i see what your saying about Arkansas….Other round the United States say it as (phonetics)Ark-in-saw while a friend of mine from that state and specially in appalachia says Ark-n-ss-or (and then he spits a wadd of chaw into a spitoon, and goes back to smoking his pipe while rocking in his chair on the porch….lol

    January 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm
  • anarchic teapot

    Squirrelled away to be produced the next time some innocent/idiot says “oh, but English is *easy*”

    Lovely stuff. Reads well, too.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:35 pm
  • Lunatunes

    I’ve never heard of the english word “Fe0ffer” and wouldn’t know how to pronounce it. fee-zero-fur?

    January 5, 2012 at 11:52 pm
  • Kat

    Someone took a lot of time and thought putting this together, and obviously had fun- what “English ‘ language does 90 % of the world speak, though? Britain and Australia and Canada and the USA all consider themselves English speaking nations, but ethnicity and cultural environment play a huge part in how we see and say words.
    Had no problem with the words, but I say to-mah-to. and my brother and I pronounce schedule differently – who is to say who is wrong?

    January 6, 2012 at 12:18 am
  • Angela

    and yet millions of people all over the world speak English as first, second , third or fourth language, and do so tolerably well ( what does correct pronunciation mean anyway?) while most native English speakers struggle to manage even a smidgeon of any second lamguage at all. so may be, none the less it is not as difficult as this exercise makes it seem.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:20 am
  • M.C.

    @Elizabeth. Do you mean your English teacher wanted mauve pronounce “moove”? If so, he’s wrong. It rhymes with ‘mow the lawn’ or stove- mowve.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:26 am
  • Linda

    I think the “joke” is that some people pronounce it “Ar-Kan-Saur”

    January 6, 2012 at 12:33 am
  • Rachel

    @Pauline I’m English and with you on that ‘four’ ‘Arkansas’. Sorry, @Meg!

    January 6, 2012 at 12:34 am
  • Linda

    @M.C., no Elizabeth said her teacher pronounced it with a “long o” which would concur with your comparison to “mow”..oh, looking back, perhaps it’s “Ark-Kan-Sore”…

    January 6, 2012 at 12:35 am
  • Samira

    I live in Saskatchewan,Canada and I am in Grade 7. I could say every word – except eleven because I have never heard of the words before. When my friends say “me” when it should be “I” or when they use “To”, “too”, or “two” in the wrong context I always wanna slap them because they are English and don’t know how to speak or spell it. This was a very interesting, if dried out my tongue from all the tongue twisters. Blah! Thanks for the test. Now my friends will believe me that I have proper grammer. :)

    January 6, 2012 at 12:48 am
  • Grace Moore

    WoW! This is something! I have always been aware of the irregularity of English spelling, which is what makes spoken French so easy in comparison, if you know the basics where spelling just about always fits prononciation!

    January 6, 2012 at 12:59 am
  • Samira

    Proper grammer is very important. Usually if someone spells something wrong, I can figure it out. I think that it is the proper punctuation that can confuse a person because with and without punctuation it can mean two totally different things.

    January 6, 2012 at 1:05 am
  • Jennifer

    Living is thriving
    Giving and surviving
    But don’t be fooled or flooded

    January 6, 2012 at 1:22 am
  • Mr. Fibuli

    Lovely! This should be on the syllabus of every school here in Germany – especially for our English teachers. :D

    January 6, 2012 at 1:32 am
  • Kelli

    @ M.C. It can also be pronounced with a short O sound (ah). Like pot. That’s how I pronounce it, and I am well-versed in diction. It can be both ways, “Mowve” or “Mahve”.

    January 6, 2012 at 1:56 am
  • Dr. Merton L. Bland

    How do you pronounce OUGH?
    off like in cough
    oh like though
    ow like bough
    ooh like through
    aw like bought
    uff like rough

    January 6, 2012 at 2:07 am
  • Kiwi Bloke

    @Susan Price. I can help you there, since I am a Kiwi. I had no problem with any of this. The pronunciations of these words are taught in primary schools early. “The Queen’s English” is strong in N.Z.

    January 6, 2012 at 2:27 am
  • Bernard Naughton

    Wow, Claudio, You certainly are well connected. As an ex-pat Irishman teaching English in Brazil for 15 years this `poem´ underlines the importance of introducing ESL students to Phonetics as an aid to pronunciation, Thanx 4 the post!
    4 and Arkansas rhyming only shows the regional variations.
    In my experience intonation is more important than accent …

    January 6, 2012 at 2:34 am
  • Janice Ann Johnson

    George Kevin, dear, of course I can do this! However, I did tire half way through, but will return to finish another day.
    Ms. J

    Note the internal rhyme

    January 6, 2012 at 2:55 am
  • Pinky

    That was fun! (and not that difficult)

    January 6, 2012 at 2:56 am
  • clair

    That was easy and im 16 :)

    January 6, 2012 at 3:31 am
  • PePe le Pew

    Nooooo, M.C., it’s pronounced Maahve….. Now that you’re in the know, isn’t that Maahvelous?

    January 6, 2012 at 5:01 am
  • Beth

    Oh this was a treat! I especially liked reading it fast without thinking about it. My pronunciation is perfect.

    January 6, 2012 at 5:02 am
  • Caroline

    Great resource for me as a second language learned and teacher :)… formerly from Czech Republic, now living in New Jersey.

    January 6, 2012 at 5:32 am
  • kishor neupane

    As a south Asian English learner,i enjoyed the lines very much,I think English grammer is the most ecstatic grammer having numerous synonyms but with different meanings accoding to context…. )

    January 6, 2012 at 5:35 am
  • Annij

    Super easy! Read it once 100% But then again I’m a High School English Teacher. :D

    January 6, 2012 at 5:54 am
  • Olivia

    Easy to read this…

    January 6, 2012 at 6:08 am
  • Ryan

    That was awesome. I messed about 2 words, but overall an awesome poem. Lovin the word play.

    January 6, 2012 at 6:12 am
  • Rita Ractliffe

    Being raised in a Texas-southern/British-London household, I learned to read at 4 and grew up reading books in the house with both American and British spellings! All kinds of fun when went to Texas parochial schools already reading. Recognized all words and pronounciations (except “feofer”- a new one to me!). What a fun exercise this was!

    January 6, 2012 at 6:46 am
  • Anna

    I’m a reasonably educated kiwi (i.e. from New Zealand) and the only one I hadn’t heard was Terpsichore. However, I have always pronounced “ere” to rhyme with “here”. Am I wrong? Someone with a strong kiwi accent will pronounce “tare” and “tier” the same, but it varies from person to person whether it’s more like the former or the latter. My husband, for instance, would say them both quite similar to “tier”.

    January 6, 2012 at 6:56 am
  • Tai Nguyen

    @Timothy Barton: “Food” rhymes with “would” a lot better than “blood” and “would”. Are you sure you can pronounce these words? :P

    January 6, 2012 at 7:19 am
  • nicholas karasievich

    would i be wrong if i write in all lowercase and say that this is fly with two i’s?

    January 6, 2012 at 7:43 am
  • Joe

    @Meg – southern English ‘saw’ and ‘sore’ are pronounced the same with the /r/ and /w/ not pronounced other that to change the quality of the vowels.

    @Alex – I think both of the words aluminium and aluminum were derived from alumina at about the same time (the ore was known long before anyone worked out how to extract the metal) – the original word was going to be alumium, but in the end it was aluminium and aluminum.

    January 6, 2012 at 9:52 am
  • PacRim Jim

    If anything is a poem, nothing is a poem.

    January 6, 2012 at 10:53 am
  • greydOll

    wow amazing,i did read it well,these are like tongue twister..read aloud so you can pronounce it well. <3

    January 6, 2012 at 11:05 am
  • lusyrein09@yahoo.com

    i totally messed up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 6, 2012 at 11:42 am
  • Araba Ata Sam

    I enjoyed reading this. I have always said that the English language has no logic- how can the plural of mouse be mice and that of house be houses and not hice?

    January 6, 2012 at 11:47 am
  • Susan

    Great fun! Terpsichore and feoffer both new to me. Good old fashioned dictionary got me sorted.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm
  • Jeff Mortenson

    I’m an American English speaker and I agree with the Frenchman!

    January 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm
  • Capills

    Query does rhyme with very

    January 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm
  • Theo Kesby

    Very good – not the original mind you, which was called “The Chaos” and published in 1922. This, I assume has been abridged and modernised to miss out some words no longer in circulation and which would fool a lot of people.

    The large number of irregularities in the English language usually arrived by contractions and slang (such as Gunwhales and Topsails)along with other traditions of pronunciation which never died out.

    As a side note, it’s quite amusing that so many people will see this and feel that they’ve pronounced words correctly purely because of the spelling, even though they have no idea what they mean or have ever heard them.

    January 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm
  • Corro

    No problem! Guess Maine’s education system works…LOL!!

    January 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm
  • carlmej

    very good.
    except for line 4.
    The word ‘corps’ has a silent ps at the end, and is pronounced ‘core’. The word is French meaning body, and is used primarily within English to describe a body, or group, of men. See Royal Medical Corps for example.

    The other examples in this line ‘corpse’, ‘horse’, ‘worse’ do not have silent letters and do rhyme (albeit slightly) with the ‘verse’ from the preceeding line.

    Aside from that an enjoyable challenge

    January 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm
  • serena

    Hurra managed it ,was great fun and always newor is it knew that English was a tricky language!!

    January 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm
  • Marcus

    Capills – That depends on where you live. Query can also rhyme with leary.

    January 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm
  • Vera_zen

    Excellent exercise for natives or not!!!

    January 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm
  • Anne

    While I agree that English is horrid as a language and steals all its words, rules and etc. from everywhere with no purity at all, and that this poem shows me, as a bibliophile American with a degree in English that I am not so smart as I think, this does cheat a little. Many of these words are archaic and are not used anymore, and a few are proper names from Greek – surely that shouldn’t count against us! But I now have even more respect for those who learn my language no matter how imperfectly.

    January 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm
  • Sandy

    For Capills: Query rhymes with weary; very rhymes with berry or bury

    January 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm
  • Casanova Green

    I passed and I am an English teacher!

    January 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm
  • Cathy

    “Query” does indeed rhyme with “very” in American English. This verse is clever and fun – and represents a lot of hard work. Bravo!

    January 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm
  • RoseAnne

    There is no such thing as THE correct pronunciation. Query might rhyme with very where you come from, but not where I come from. Anyone from Canada/US would be scratching their heads over the solar/mica thing as well – what is it with the Brits and the letter R? The same regional variations are true of French, and probably every other language ever spoken.

    January 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm
  • Trollface

    I’m 12 old and I think that this was way too easy…

    January 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm
  • nonny

    Why is feoffer spelled with a 0 (zed/zero) instead of an o?

    (If you search for it, spell it fe0ffer!)

    January 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm
  • VM

    Query does NOT rhyme with very, Capills! If you think que-ry sounds like que-stion (hence like very) you are mistaken. It sounds like queer.

    January 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm
  • omg


    January 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm
  • Kelly

    I’m from the US and I don’t pronounce “query” like “very”, I say it like “queer-y”, which is what I always thought was correct no matter where you live. There are actually Americans running around saying it like “very”? Ick!

    January 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm
  • Becky

    Wow! longest and best “poke” at English I’ve personally read. Kudos to Theo for the background on the “original.”

    January 6, 2012 at 7:10 pm
  • John

    According to Bill Bryson in ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything”, aluminum is the original name for the metal. Then a 3 or 4 years after it was discovered, a major scientific society realised that it didn’t fit grammatically with other elements on the perodic table. For example barium, helium, magnesium, etc. All these had “ium” at the end of them, aluminum had “num”. So to match the others it was changed to “ium”. However USA continued to use the orginal spelling.

    January 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm


    January 6, 2012 at 8:12 pm
  • Katrin

    @Rita: ”feoffer” the comparative form of ”feoffed”
    feoffed – feoffer – feoffest
    I speak English as a second language..I’m a native of the German language..

    January 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm
  • Paul

    Sir Francis Drake brought many words from around the world some say English is made up with words from 500 languages.Finish is supposed to be harder to learn!

    January 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm
  • Ikpa Tony

    This is woonderful! I enjoy reading it cos my favourite part of language is phonetics.

    January 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm
  • Cathy

    I looked up “query” and it did say “queery.” Nonetheless, many people say it in a fashion that rhymes with “very.” This is not necessarily “ick.” (By the way, what an unkind thing to say.) It is reflective of a language that is constantly “on the move” and is also subject to regional differences. As a summa cum laude graduate from a very good school, I don’t feel the need to be snarky about the technicalities. LOL Whatever – this ambitious piece is lovely and is causing some very interesting commentary. What a great opportunity for all to learn some new things and share some good humor.

    January 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm
  • Sharla Allard

    Wow you got a lot of responders on this one! I read a bit and then fainted.

    January 7, 2012 at 12:00 am
  • Catherine Heng

    That, no how ye spell porrige:)

    January 7, 2012 at 12:03 am
  • Phyllis Child

    This was great fun.Think I pronounced everything correctly, but will check the dictionary for a couple I was unsure about. I have only a high school education, but am an avid reader and user of the dictionary. Must add: you say either (ether), I say either (ither)!

    January 7, 2012 at 12:05 am
  • Spenny

    Re: corps does not rhyme with corps when one is singular and the other is plural. I hope that solves that one :)

    Of course pronunciations vary around the world, but from my experience in the States, I’d not come across query pronounced significantly different from the British (and it is a word I’ve come across in IT), though I’ve never coped with the American pronunciation of route which we rhyme with root.

    January 7, 2012 at 12:42 am
  • red

    This was fun to read out loud or in your head…..P.S. a lot of you people commenting here are ridiculously pretentious….go find a coffee shop and some dark framed glasses and be pretentious there.

    January 7, 2012 at 12:51 am
  • Barb

    So much fun to read! Of course, our part of the US (NW Ohio) supposedly has hte most perfectly spoken American English, but I love hearing regional differences and accept them.

    January 7, 2012 at 12:57 am
  • Gary

    That shows what happens when a language adopts half of its words from other languages.

    January 7, 2012 at 1:18 am
  • Emma

    I loved this! Only messed up a two or three words but that was because I was reading it really quickly. Terpischore and feoffer new to me too, but shall now try to use them in everyday conversation. Love learning new random words. English is such a fantastically fun and silly language, I would love to hear a variety of very strong-accented people recite this; see how differently a Scot, an Irishman, An American, a Canadian, an Australian, a Liverpudlian, a Norfolkian such as myself and an old-fashioned BBC announcer would pronounce each word!

    January 7, 2012 at 2:21 am
  • Dude

    The iPad speaks it perfectly when you use the accessibility option to ‘speak’ it. Amazing

    January 7, 2012 at 2:49 am
  • Jeena

    Wow… It looks very challenging to me, born and raised in an Asian country. I really want to listen to an English speaker reading this poem in correct pronunciation. Is there any English speaker who can kindly send me the voice recordings via e-mail?

    January 7, 2012 at 3:40 am
  • Annette

    Where I live, query rhymes with very.

    Some of you should learn how to use a dictionary. Notice the little speaker icons and the pronunciation guide. Use those. You’ll look less foolish that way.


    January 7, 2012 at 3:46 am
  • Leah

    My only issue is that I would never, ever rhyme “aunt” and “grant” – although I know lots of people who do! An aunt is not a thing you step on!

    January 7, 2012 at 4:01 am
  • Sarah

    This was a wonderful challenge that I quite enjoyed! I had to look up approximately 10 words but guessed correct pronunciations for a few of them! Definitely will be sharing this!

    January 7, 2012 at 4:14 am
  • Dave

    Hey, I too speak English as a second language, I’m from Boston, so my pronunciation is wonderful, although only a liited number of people ca understand it.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:54 am
  • judy hines

    I did not know feoffer but tried to pronounce it. What fun this was, Jim and Caralien. Thank you so much! Happy New Year and thanks for the Christmas card. I am still sending greetings for the New Year and I send them to you two wonderful people and your daughter. Judy Albergotti HInes

    January 7, 2012 at 5:00 am
  • Mandi

    Technically enough doesn’t rhyme with any of those words. Enough has the same syllabic ending as cough, but in elementary education that’s not called rhyming.

    January 7, 2012 at 5:38 am
  • DL Anderson

    ‘Query’ and ‘very’ do NOT rhyme in Standard American English. If you think they do, then you are speaking a regional variant. Well, we all speak our own regional variants over here… but most Americans pronounce the two words differently.

    If I remember right, there is a ‘very’, ‘merry’ and ‘marry’ pronunciation merger going on in some versions of American English. This sounds like it may be an expansion of that.

    January 7, 2012 at 5:44 am
  • Emily

    I found this very amusing, if nothing more than a statement on the “rightness” of a received British accent. Any other accent, and you’re going to have a lot of thing wrong.

    For example: in midwestern American accents, “stranger” does, indeed, rhyme with “anger”. Or, for that matter, a Glaswegian accent.

    Americans also pronounce “missile” with the 2nd syllable as an ɛ, as in “fell” or “dress”, not the standard British of aɪ as in “price” or “pie”.

    And, the correct pronunciation of Terpsichore is “tərpˈsɪkəri” or “terp-SI-cor-ee”. She’s the Greek muse of dance and chorus. Not so much with the standard English usage there, boyo.

    January 7, 2012 at 5:53 am
  • le dude

    The problem with pronouncing ‘query’ like ‘very’ is that it ends up sounding like ‘quarry’ (as in hunted prey) which is obviously a completely different word. So I’d argue that ‘queery’ is actually the one correct pronunciation.

    January 7, 2012 at 5:55 am
  • Gart

    There are, unfortunately, only 26 letters in the English alphabet, some of which are pronounced in different ways with different combinations of vowels or conconants, DEPENDING UPON THE HISTORY (etymology) of the word, sometimes involving which language, other than English, from which it originated. Language is not just what is said today; it is what was said hundreds of years before.

    January 7, 2012 at 7:00 am
  • Lillian

    That is a fun read of trying to make words rhyme that made no sense at all. I would be interested to find out how the “ENGLISH” language came to be what it is today..but I do not think that it would be very useful by today’s standards because if you listen to the young people and even the television commercials that are being aired, I would not hesitate to say that a few years from now the English as we know it will be non existent and we will be trying to learn another language like I felt that I was doing when I first tried to understand the computer language. That was years ago and I am still trying to understand it. What hope have I got to learn a new one if I cannot understand the old one and I am a Canadian born English speaking person all my life. (LOL—LOL—-LOL) Good luck to all…now and in the future….(no I did NOT say I did not understand English..I said I DID NOT understand computer.) I am quite fluent in English… Thank you (LOL)>>>LOL).

    January 7, 2012 at 7:50 am
  • Iryna

    I’ve noticed how quick people are to declare that they encountered no problems with this piece. I would suggest that they were to compare their pronunciation with a version on YouTube being read by an Englishman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=131GfEv4WVg) they may be surprised at how incorrect they were.

    I’ve disregarded comments regarding the anachronistic nature of many of the words as, if one is well read they shouldn’t pose a problem.

    The true test is dependant on whether you know the definition of each word when you read it.

    January 7, 2012 at 8:02 am
  • Terry

    After watching the video as read by the native speaker..

    my Canadian english is the same. I was pleased to see my pronunciation was spot on other then a couple words I had never come across before.

    January 7, 2012 at 8:55 am
  • Jigar

    I believe, One need to have “Phonetics” skills to correctly speak English or any other language. Phonetic skills allow you to speak any letter/word from any script/language across world. Most of dictionaries provide International Phonetic Alphabet(IPA) notations next to word and before its meaning explained…….In short, Your guide to correct pronunciation of any language is Phonetics.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:27 am
  • Brian Woodbridge

    WOW! was difficult but I did it.
    Very enjoyable.

    January 7, 2012 at 11:15 am
  • Steve

    This poem its clearly meant for people in England (the Queens English) stop complaining about words that don’t rhyme and stop butchering our language.

    January 7, 2012 at 11:17 am
  • Heidi

    Hi, I’m a native English speaker from the Caribbean, and even for me, it was a challenge!! I had to go back and read over quite a few words a few times! This was fun! I never doubted that English was a hard language to learn, but this really sealed it for me!

    January 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm
  • toast


    100% certain you missed the point. Looking foolish…

    January 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm
  • Michael

    This poem was fun, but “Aunt” does not rhyme with “Grant”. “Aunt” rhymes with “taunt”, or “jaunt”. There are also some questionable pronunciations of other words, mainly due to differences in qualities such as accent and dialect.

    January 7, 2012 at 1:42 pm
  • Linda Smith

    Hahaha, loved this, received a British education in colonial Rhodesia, well done guys, I had no problem at all and it made sense. Brilliantly done.

    January 7, 2012 at 1:57 pm
  • Diana

    Iryna, if you read a few of the comments for that video, the creator says he is Polish. He began learning English at 16, didn’t use it for communication until 20.

    January 7, 2012 at 2:47 pm
  • E.Daly

    Highly entertaining! ‘Correct’ pronunciation surely depends on, in my opinion only though, what is normal for your locality, the way in which your cultural influences have dictated your ‘accent’. If you want to define correct pronunciation you must define your parameters of pronunciation e.g. is it old style BBC as might have been heard 50 years ago? As long as ‘English’ remains a living language it will evolve making a ‘definitive’ only possible with qualifications. I have heard beautifully clear ‘English’ being spoken by Russian broadcasters – but correct? hmm…

    January 7, 2012 at 2:54 pm
  • Anita Eveson-Peck

    I encountered this poem about 20 years ago, written by a Dutch guy, and I recorded it on tape(since mislaid)for friends and students – not easy, I assure you! I’m delighted to find it again – thank you, Virginia! xxx

    January 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm
  • Emma

    There are a few words here where the pronunciation varies by geographical area. The aforementioned “aunt” and “grant” as well as “query” and “very” are only two. “Chair” and “mayor” don’t rhyme to me at all and “four” and “Arkansas” are a complete mystery.

    I’d be interested to know where G. Nolst Trenité calls home.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Seems like it will take 5 mins to read all,,,

    January 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm
  • M

    @Emily: “Stranger” does NOT rhyme with “anger” in a Glaswegian accent – I’m not sure who you’ve been talking to haha. “Stranger” is pronounced “strain-juhr” and “anger” is pronounced “ahn-guhr”. I guess it depends on your definition of rhyming, really.

    January 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm
  • Randall

    Fun and no problem for a backwards Canadian from Saskatchewan with an I.Q. of 158! lol! Chill out Iryna, who’s to say your “englishman” is so good……as English is a living language, it is subject to periodic “upgrades” and acceptable altrenative pronunciations of words…..ate is pronounced ” eight” in most of North America, but ” et” in England……a lot of the words in the poem are of French origin. I thought the purpose of language was to communicate, so if the other person understands what you are trying to communicate, the mission is accomplished. We aren’t all as stupid as Kellie Pickler!

    January 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm
  • Ron Hurrell

    Those who are interested in the development of English should read “The Adventure that is English” by Melvin Bragge. (No help in pronunciation.)

    January 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm
  • Danielle Costa

    I’d like to hear some English native speaker reading this text too.. heheh Someone could send the audio of this?

    January 7, 2012 at 4:10 pm
  • WellINever

    I’ve disregarded the comment from Iryna, as no matter how well read one is, it will not necessarily help pronunciation. One has to have practice and training in how words are pronounced.

    The anachronistic nature of many of the words and the conscription of foreign words are the exact reason why some words have similar spellings but are pronounced differently. People have access to all sorts of new words thanks to reading and they pronounce them how they feel is best if they have no one to ask.

    Also, the English standard is different than the American standard and even in England you find variance in pronunciation.

    Anyway, the whole conversation is moot. It’s interesting and fun, but it hardly matters.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm
  • Michael N. Marcus

    Leah said: “My only issue is that I would never, ever rhyme “aunt” and “grant” – although I know lots of people who do! An aunt is not a thing you step on!”

    It all depends on geography.

    I was born in New York. So were my “ants.”

    Jemima, the pancake lady, has never been an “ahnt.” Not even here in Connecticut, where the wives of uncles are ahnts.

    January 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm
  • Nick Tippler

    DL Anderson (7 January 2011) I think there’s a clue in your “Standard American Engish”. Yours is the variant form. You need to speak English English if you want the orignal, my son. And that’s a combination of Latin, French, indo-germanic, Norse and a bunch of others. You might notice, if you ever listen, that the BBC has abandoned “Received Pronunciation” (despite, IMHO, it’s correctness) because there is no longer any such thing as regional variant, nor a single correct source.

    It makes some of the jokes in the poem a bit flat, because they no longer apply in many of the variants. Even so, it’s a great read and a challenge to the old brain cell!

    January 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm
  • Felix Glynn

    I have to admit I found most of this fairly simple (although it doesn’t always follow a coherent rhyme scheme). The only ones I found tricky were feoffer (mainly because my Old and Middle English are rusty), Terpsichore, Melpomene (and using proper nouns from another language is cheating, really) and ye (because that could be the modern dialect abbreviation of “you”, pronounced with a y sound before a schwa, or it could be the printed equivalent of an archaic spelling of “the” (as the old character “thorn” was traditionally transliterated as a Y for ease of building a printing press)).
    Arkansas was another annoying one, and pretty much guaranteed to trip up anyone who hasn’t previously come across it- the terminal syllable is actually pronounced “-saw”.
    Ate as “eight/et” is another dialect/accent variant- according to the Queen’s, it should be “eight”, but “et” is almost equally as widely accepted. And of course, there are a number of words which are only differentiated by their pronunciation (read/read, live/live, etc. although from context in the poem it should be obvious which is intended).

    January 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm
  • Tony

    interesting background and a different version here http://ncf.idallen.com/english.html

    January 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm
  • Kat

    But see the funny thing is most of those words aren’t “English” but borrowed from other languages that get absorbed into the English language. Most English words are, and thats what makes it so unique and difficult to learn and understand

    January 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm
  • Vinny

    I can pronounce them all – it was a piss off peace! ;)

    January 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm
  • Tim

    Where in the American midwest do speakers rhyme “stranger” with “anger”? That’s news to me.

    January 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm
  • philver

    In answer to le dude, query (rhymes with very) never sounded like quarry to me. Maybe in New England?

    January 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm
  • Jill

    Mandi, in the spoken video I heard, the word given as rhyming with enough was “tough,” not “cough.”

    January 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm
  • Melissa

    @le dude – I originally said query liked it rhymed with very, but I’ve heard other people say it like “queery”. I came up with the first pronunciation on my own. The only context I ever hear that word in, though, is in programming circles where you send queries to the database.

    That being said query said like very still doesn’t come close to quarry. I say quarry like “kw-OR-ee” not like “kw-EHR-ee”.

    I did have some trouble with this mostly because I’ve never seen sward before, or ague. And I don’t think proper Greek names are fair. I actually have no idea how to pronounce Islington “right” (as I’m American). I suspect it is probably like the case of Louisville, Kentucky where only people from Kentucky actually know how to pronounce it “correctly”. (It is something like “lull-vulle” or “lool-vulle”. Not “lew-is-ville”, not “loo-ee-ville”. It drives me nuts when people say it wrong and insist that they’re right. You aren’t from there and it shows. At least the narrator on The First 48 says it right, I’d probably be unable to watch the show if he didn’t.)

    January 7, 2012 at 7:13 pm
  • creole to kreyol

    HA! this is quite clever I read about half way down a little more at least. It’s a very smart poem indeed… I think i’ll come back one day soon and do a video on reading it.

    January 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm
  • lol

    You guys have to remember that this was written in 1920, and that word usage, as well as pronunciation, evolve over time.

    January 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm
  • Dalia

    It’s so interesting how the English language is flourishing with so many words that are pronounced so differently, despite looking very similar.

    A lot of people are questioning various rhymes in the poem, but that’s the very point: pronunciation is largely arbitrary. It depends on a lot of factors, especially on dialect and region. To say ‘grant’ so it rhymes with ‘ant’ isn’t right or wrong – it’s a matter of your circumstance. I live in London, so ‘grant’ and ‘aunt’, to me, are pronounced ‘grahnt’ and ‘ahhnt, not ‘ant’.

    Great concept, anyway!

    January 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm
  • Kenji

    I am Japanese, I recorded my voice. Can anyone listen to it and fix my pronunciation? Thank you.


    January 7, 2012 at 10:14 pm
  • François

    I’m french and achieved reading 6 first lines without issues(my judge were someone from Oregon and the other from Florida)….So i guess i don’t need to make six month hard labour…Isn’t it ? ;)

    … Could i leav now? ….:D

    January 7, 2012 at 10:21 pm
  • Sharon

    Cute, but an absolute time-waster. English evolved from many different languages, primarily Old English which was Germanic, then later further influenced by the Norman Invasion, which is Old French. Pronunciations are influenced along these lines. If you really want to be able to understand the etymological roots of English, you will need to take a class in etymology, along with some rudimentary German and French. Also, Greek and Latin, of course.

    January 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm
  • Joseph

    Although not in the poem, we should pronounce “ain’t” like “saint” and “y’all” like fall. Jes’ like reglar (sic) folk. Howdy!

    January 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm
  • Denis

    I pronounced every word perfect as I suspect every literate United Kingdom citizen could also do.
    Being Scottish born,(part of the mainland UK), I have, fortunately an advantage over other none-english nationals.
    Fantastic poem, I love it!!!

    January 7, 2012 at 10:56 pm
  • Ruth Fairlamb

    Wonderful words our language has!
    This poem’s created such raz-a-ma-taz,
    From Land’s End to John O’Groats
    Folk are busy clearing throats,
    So as to read it loud and clear
    With no mistakes; that is their fear!
    The Scots all claim they say it right,
    The Welsh are sure they’ve seen the light,
    While over in the Emerald Isle
    Paddy is puzzling,with guile
    A way to turn a flowered pfrase

    January 7, 2012 at 11:11 pm
  • Rj

    Well..no problem here…From Minnesota USA…

    January 7, 2012 at 11:26 pm
  • Ruth Fairlamb

    Wonderful words our language has !
    This verse creates such raz-ma-razz
    From old Land’s End to John O’Groats
    Folk are busy clearing throats;
    So as to read it loud and clear
    With no mistakes; that is their fear!
    The Scots all claim they say it right;
    The welsh are sure they’ve seen the light;
    Over in the Emerald Isle
    They twist the words with charming guile.
    Forthey ca turn a flowered plhrase

    January 7, 2012 at 11:27 pm
  • Kym

    I didn’t have a problem with the word and only said 3 differently then the (Polish not English as stated above) man in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=131GfEv4WVg 2 of which he mispronounced. (wear and tear

    January 7, 2012 at 11:29 pm
  • marsha

    I read it fine. And agree. Good phonics is a must to read this, or anything really. I am from Washington state, born, and raised.

    January 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm
  • KCook

    Emily says:
    January 7, 2012 at 5:53 am

    “For example: in midwestern American accents, “stranger” does, indeed, rhyme with “anger”. Or, for that matter, a Glaswegian accent.”

    Being from the midwestern United States, I can attest that “stranger” and “anger” do NOT rhyme. I have lived throughout the American midwest for my entire life and have NEVER heard anyone pronounce “stranger” in a manner that rhymes with “anger.”

    January 7, 2012 at 11:47 pm
  • Paul

    “Aunt” and “grant” rhyme if you come form the South of England. in the North, they won’t. If you speak with a Northern regional accent, you are more likely to rhyme “grant” with “ant”.

    January 7, 2012 at 11:55 pm
  • Larry C. Wilson

    Since I speak American rather than English, I’m not sure that my pronunciations would be acceptable in Oxford.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:03 am
  • Florine

    I am so glad that I was speaking English as a baby and on. What a difficult language to learn….but what an abundance of beautiful words.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:29 am
  • Garrett

    According to my South Dakota/Midwestern USA “dictionary accent” (non-norwegian influended):
    Chair and mayor do not rhyme, Four and Arkansas do not rhyme, label and canal do not rhyme, Aunt is pronounced like haunt – like Aunt Jemima the pancake lady, and enough does not rhyme with any of those 5 as it rhmyes with tough and ruff.

    Also, query (queer-y) does not rhyme with very (vehr-y) as the “ee” sound is not the same, but the Y’s do sound the same.
    Anger does NOT rhyme with Stranger.

    January 8, 2012 at 12:41 am
  • Catherine

    Poor pity anyone learning English as a second language!

    January 8, 2012 at 12:42 am
  • thehawkreturns

    Proper names, particularly non-English, are a poor choice for this piece.
    Islington is pronounced Iz ling tun
    Aunt (arnt) is not like grant (short vowel) for MOST of England but this can be heard in the Home Counties and Buck House.
    I have never heard an American pronounce stranger rhyming with anger.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:52 am
  • Tim

    Anybody getting hung up on the correct pronunciation of ‘aunt’ needs to understand that it’s a class issue primarily for British English speakers. This has been compounded recently with our government trying to get 50% of our youth through university and will end up dividing our country into two: middle class and the uneducated masses. Language usage will become a politicla and social tool for how people are treated here in the near future as in the Victorian era.

    January 8, 2012 at 2:21 am
  • Dan

    Bring back ðe þorn and eð!

    January 8, 2012 at 2:34 am
  • piotrek

    Tu Polacy, dla nas ten tekst to żaden problem.

    January 8, 2012 at 2:43 am
  • Chris S

    Some words in the poem have multiple pronunciations depending upon the context. I lazily picked out three: bass, Job (when its capitalized) and wind. The fish, the task and the movement of air are different from the low pitch, the Old Testament book and the tightening of a spring.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:10 am
  • Frances

    I find it amusing that a few of you who are anxious to criticize those who don’t understand the pronunciation of words have not yet learned how to spell.

    January 8, 2012 at 6:32 am
  • Fronman

    As the good professor in My Fair Lady says of the English teaching the English to speak, “in America they haven’t spoken it (English) for years”.

    (With all due respect to the most powerful and humble nation in the world)

    January 8, 2012 at 7:55 am
  • Jim Hlavac

    I teach English to my Czech relatives and many my Mexican friends,
    who always can pronounce each others vowels without amends,
    but English is so frighteningly strange,
    than anybody would …
    well, does any word rhyme with strange?
    I think not,
    and so tongue tied in a knot
    and thus I wonder,
    and mind torn asunder,
    though I keep saying to all I meet,
    ’tis nothing but some mush and meat.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:13 am
  • Mia

    Honestly I didn’t even finish when it turned into random words.

    January 8, 2012 at 8:25 am
  • San Diego


    “For example: in midwestern American accents, “stranger” does, indeed, rhyme with “anger”.”

    Nowhere in the United States is the g in stranger pronounced the same as the g in anger.

    January 8, 2012 at 9:07 am
  • Daerogami

    Here is a recording of this poem as requested by multiple users. I’m sure I made my share of mistakes and yes, parts have been edited for corrections.

    January 8, 2012 at 9:08 am
  • Annemcbeath

    what a lot of words to say precisly what ?suggest you study and attempt to understand shakespeare

    January 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm
  • Will Clark

    It is not only in English that there regional differences for the same word but you can find this in other European languages; each region has its differences. Phonics are rarely a help, one must know the language of the folk of each region.

    January 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm
  • Jessica G.

    This poem just highlights the “rightness” of British English over all the rest of our odd dialects. :-D I’m a Canadian, and over here query really does sound like very, or haunt like aunt.

    But I could see this as a great final exam for an English second-language class!

    January 8, 2012 at 5:34 pm
  • tod

    I had no problems to read this poem, I’m from Brazil and I’m still learning english, there is some words that I dont know, so i have no idea about the pronunciation =D

    January 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm
  • Patricia

    Did well for a Yank. LOL and I learned (learnt) a new word: Aver. a·ver   /əˈvɜr/ Show Spelled[uh-vur]
    verb (used with object), a·verred, a·ver·ring.
    1. to assert or affirm with confidence; declare in a positive or peremptory manner.
    2. Law . to allege as a fact.
    great site. thanks

    January 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm
  • annaes

    I actually learned pronunciation in my phonetics class on this poem;) I pronounced all of it correctly but since i knew it beforehand that kinda doesn’t count, does it? ;)

    January 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm
  • annaes

    Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that the “housewife” pronunciation stuck with me and I couldn’t get it out of my head for a long time and people had problem with deciphering what i might’ve meant when I used the word. All the best for my dearest friend Magdalena W. who has a lovely bum and shouldn’t be afraid to flaunt it! Madrid wants to see it!

    January 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm
  • laura

    hello fro salta, Argentina!!!!! I am certainly not native speaker but I have to say that I really enjoyed reading the poem, though there are words which I didn’t know how to pronounce, anyway had a great time reading it!!!!!

    January 8, 2012 at 8:24 pm
  • Gisele

    It’s like an extremely long tong twister. Hard even for natives!

    January 8, 2012 at 9:07 pm
  • Gisele

    Ops, I mean “tongUE”

    January 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm
  • carol crawford

    English ain’t like it used to be

    January 8, 2012 at 9:15 pm
  • Elaine tantum howell

    The reason for the non rhyming is that there is no such language as english. It is made up of latin french german greek and more. This is because england was conquerd by these countries and the conquering countries left their mark in the anguage that is called english but infact is not. So when u think that u r speaking english, u r actually speakin a lot of words from other languages. Hence why it is so hard and indeed the hardest language to learn.

    January 8, 2012 at 10:55 pm
  • KBC

    I thought this was a blast!

    January 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm
  • Jesper

    Bad news for those of you, guys, who cannot pronounce it correctly. There’s a bot that does is quite well: http://www.ivona.com/en/ (It’s not an add, just for learning purposes).

    January 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm
  • Liz

    I dare say most of us who think we’ve pronounced it correctly would disagree with one another…
    My husband drives me mad when he says “tongue” to rhyme with “wrong” which we all know should be more like “lung” haha!
    I’m from the Midlands of England.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:33 am
  • Liz

    … and we both taught English for 25-30 years!

    January 9, 2012 at 12:34 am
  • Miranda

    So what counts as “correctly?” Someone in the south would say their pronunciation was correct, where as the same would be said otherwise. This is a perscriptavist way at looking at things. there is no right or wrong way to say anything, only different.

    January 9, 2012 at 2:15 am
  • Crystal

    Wow its long lol but gotter done ahahaha

    January 9, 2012 at 3:21 am
  • gabor revesz

    hewn or sewn, to each his own.

    January 9, 2012 at 3:58 am
  • NannaKnowsBest

    1 2 3 pussy went to pee,pead in a tea cup and made a cup of tea:)

    January 9, 2012 at 4:40 am
  • jessica

    this is why i am so bad at spelling, you can’t just sound it out!

    January 9, 2012 at 6:04 am
  • Ekaterina

    Hello ))))) I’m from Russia. It’s a little bit difficalt for pronunciation )))) Thank’s for practice ))))

    January 9, 2012 at 8:36 am
  • Sue Potts

    Got it all I am the best!!!

    January 9, 2012 at 9:15 am
  • ger

    when i hear the poem on here… http://soundcloud.com/daerogami/english-pronunciation …. he pronounces blood on the second half of the word phonetically as “roo” instead of “odd” (refer to 1:16)he sounds like he is saying “broot” or “fruit” instead of blood.
    Overall, many of the words for american native speakers like myself do NOT come as commonly used, resulting in an interesting tongue twister more than a meassure by which we can test one’s skills to pronounce english correctly. So neither people learning the language or native speakers should feel bad by not getting it all correctly on a whim because all of us have learned a new word or two. This i say on the fact that nearly NO ONE uses several of these words on a regular basis in the US. Period!. AVER anyone? hahahahhaa

    January 9, 2012 at 10:10 am
  • Roberto

    Has anyone tried to read the portuguese poet Camões? There you’ll find lots and lots of fantastic and really difficult words.

    January 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm
  • Green

    Thanks for this great exercise. I don’t have the best pronunctiation due to my heavy accent from my country.
    This poem demonstrates the theory about English language: sometimes doesn’t make sense when words have the same spelling but are pronounced differently. Nobody have ever explained me why :s. Maybe I have asked to the wrong people ;)

    January 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm
  • Chezanne

    LOL that was a good laugh! I am from South Africa and speak English as a second language (Afrikaans being first language) but I had no problem with pronouncing the words.

    Have to admit thaugh – anger and stranger does not rhyme :)

    But English is a colourfull language:
    *Boxing ring, when it’s sqaure
    *Lipstck but your lips doesn’t stick together
    *Shipment when it goes by car and cargo when it goes by sea

    :) :) :) :)

    Emjoy your day!

    January 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm
  • Avleria

    Spain. I want to die.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm
  • chriszemiller

    enamour DOES NOT rhyme with hammer

    January 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm
  • Gerald Walta

    Who says German is confusing????????????

    January 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm
  • Jonas Luks

    Czech Republic. On third go I got through (although I’m still not sure how to pronounce corpse x corps).

    January 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm
  • marlenetj

    Jonas: In “corpse” you hear both the p and the s.

    Fior “corps” we say it the French way: “cor” (no p, no s)

    January 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm
  • Mariana

    BRAZIL! Not bad at all ;)

    January 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm
  • Fernanda

    Everybody says Portuguese is a difficult language to be learned…now I can see it’s not that much…

    January 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm
  • TeeMitch50

    Enamor does rhyme with hammer in the U.S., chriszemiller.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm
  • Rafael

    Brazil: Suddenly Portuguese become piece of cake…

    January 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm
  • keith

    Should have a spoken version of the poem, because I know the differences of the words but do not know if I’m saying it correctly.

    January 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm
  • Sthela

    Brazil Man… I gave up!!!

    January 9, 2012 at 8:39 pm
  • Tom

    @Jonas Luks
    Native english speaker here. Corps is the same pronunciation as core, as in an apple core, or the earth’s core. Most Americans associate the word corps with the Marine corps and pronounce it with the same diction as “core.”

    January 9, 2012 at 8:56 pm
  • Ivan

    You can use this page to check spelling


    January 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm
  • Alexia n

    Canada- peice o cale

    January 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm
  • Darius

    Could you add phonetic spellings in a a week or so?

    January 9, 2012 at 10:38 pm
  • Chris D

    “corpse” and “corps” are pronounced the same
    and enamour most certainly does rhyme with hammer.
    The TYPO fe0ffer is suppose to be feoffer (of course pronounced ‘FEFFER’)and is one who grants a feoffment (which is a very rare situation resulting is the payment of a loan by giving someone land instead of money)

    and since I simply cannot resist once last “hiccup”, seeing “Hiccough” spelled correctly was almost shocking!

    January 9, 2012 at 10:40 pm
  • Mels Ali

    I love it!! English pronunciation is such a fun challenge.

    January 9, 2012 at 10:46 pm
  • Corrinne

    Enamour does indeed rhyme with hammer
    Corpse one pronounces all the letters
    Corps one does not pronounce all letters – only the first three letters – sounds like “core”
    English is a difficult language because it’s basis is ALL other languages hence the myriad ways of pronouncement of words with nearly identical spelling.

    January 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm
  • liz mcdaniel

    Im a Speech-Language Pathologist and this is a great workout!

    January 9, 2012 at 11:21 pm
  • Niels

    @ Jonas
    /kɔːps/ –> /kɔː/
    In non-linguistic terms it means that the first is pronounced without the “r” and “e”, and the second without “r”, “p” and “s”.
    So /cops/ –> /co/
    Hope it helped!

    January 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm
  • Ale Caparros

    Nice!!! It’s the only thing I can pronounce after reading the poem out loud!

    January 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm
  • Aimee

    Enamour DOES rhyme with hammer if you’re pronouncing it correctly!

    January 9, 2012 at 11:45 pm
  • Vítor

    I almost aced it!
    btw i’m from Brazil =D

    January 9, 2012 at 11:51 pm
  • Sandra Keith

    That was a piece of cake. But then English was always my best subject. This piece does show, though, how difficult it is to learn to speak English. Words that look alike aren’t pronounced alike while words that don’t look alike, are pronounced the same.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:10 am
  • Anna

    Iceland … not bad :))

    January 10, 2012 at 12:12 am
  • Rakel

    became Scottish half way through, helped actually XD

    January 10, 2012 at 12:14 am
  • ed

    Can you do it in Gaelic?

    January 10, 2012 at 12:15 am
  • Chandrelle

    Thank you, Longman Pronunciation Dictionary! ;)

    January 10, 2012 at 12:40 am
  • Pat

    Some of these differ in pronunciation depending on whether one intends ENGLISH English or AMERICAN English…

    January 10, 2012 at 2:43 am
  • Bianca

    Brazil, and I did very well! I Was confused with just 5 words…

    January 10, 2012 at 2:50 am
  • Marcie

    I have no idea what “ague” is…or “nob”. But I knew all the other words and their pronunciations. I am going to look up those two words right now. LOL

    January 10, 2012 at 2:53 am
  • Marcie

    REPOST…sorry. I forgot to say I am from the USA. I have no idea what “ague” is…or “nob”. But I knew all the other words and their pronunciations. I am going to look up those two words right now. LOL

    January 10, 2012 at 2:54 am
  • Steffeny McGiffen

    enamour DOES rhyme with hammer, how are you saying it?

    January 10, 2012 at 3:26 am
  • Spects

    Corpse and Corps are not pronounced the same; the S in corpse is hard, whereas “corps” sounds like “core.”

    American English Major, screwed up a couple times, but at least I can speak my own language. XD

    January 10, 2012 at 3:49 am
  • Ginnie

    Wind (as in the wind) or wind, as in winding something up … bass as in sound or bass as in fish …
    Very fun to try

    January 10, 2012 at 4:12 am
  • Lavanille

    From Jakarta here, i must say living abroad for years helps a lot :) how to pronounce “succour” btw..hmm

    January 10, 2012 at 4:22 am
  • Julie

    Vietnamese. It’s great pratice! :)

    January 10, 2012 at 4:27 am
  • Silvia Carvalho

    Brazil – Simply great!

    January 10, 2012 at 4:58 am
  • Lenir

    I truly enjoyed it.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:00 am
  • Moo

    Props to English teachers!

    January 10, 2012 at 5:04 am
  • Brian

    Native English (US) speaker.
    Thank God for having parents that made me love reading! It was quite long, but I was able to get through with no real trouble. At least a couple of these words have multiple acceptable pronunciations (live, aunt and query for example), but it’s clear from context which pronunciation is desired by the author.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:16 am
  • messickc

    From Alabama, USA. I read it LIKE A BOSS!

    January 10, 2012 at 7:00 am
  • messickc

    Also, according to one’s accent, enamour and hammer do, indeed, rhyme!

    January 10, 2012 at 7:01 am
  • Marie

    Note that the pronunciations provided here are regional. For example, in most of the northern U.S., we would pronounce the ‘r’ in both “corpse” and “corps.” In “corpse” we would pronounce everything but the last ‘e’. In “corps” we would pronounce the c, o & r — but not the ‘p’ or ‘s’, regardless of plural. We say “corps” exactly the same way we pronounce the “core” of an apple. (Of course, some folks from the northeastern regions — like south Bostoners — would likely drop all of those r’s!)

    January 10, 2012 at 7:21 am
  • Rima

    India; and I did it *shockingly* correct.
    Some colonial hangover help, I guess!

    January 10, 2012 at 7:27 am
  • weau

    Some of these pronunciation quibbles are simply the difference between British English and American English, although there are many varieties of English to choose from. THe most widely used version of English in the world is American.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:35 am
  • Zack

    best part
    “bilet does not rhyme with ballet”
    ballet is french thank you very much

    …oh almost forgot USA, and for the most part easy, doesn’t help any one that it is made to trip you up with simple cadence alone.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:08 am
  • Bret

    Now, try reciting it with a Cajun accent.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:18 am
  • Alex

    South Korea: Not bad at all lol Now I’m taking this to my Facebook

    January 10, 2012 at 8:45 am
  • mya

    Tongue twistet. american. Law major….english minor. I’m going to show this to my sons. I love it.

    January 10, 2012 at 8:53 am
  • ash

    Funny one. Interesting. Will probably be very good for ESL students because it can make you think twice. Plus it will help them learn new words too!

    January 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm
  • Sahal

    I got bored half way through.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm
  • RAyy

    weau….the most widely used form of english is american? i dont think so, most american cant speak english even though they like to call it that!

    January 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm
  • Jim

    Actually, the most widely used version of English is Chinese…..

    January 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm
  • Barb

    LOL – found it easy, and I’m a Brit so not sure where you got your stats from ? “Enditement” is Anglo/French but ‘Indict’ is an American word – plus you missed out some doozies that people have trouble pronounciating like ‘Worcestershire Sauce’ and ‘Warwickshire’… :D

    January 10, 2012 at 7:11 pm
  • Barb

    Sorry – that was meant to be ‘prounouncing’ ! ;)

    January 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm
  • Dana St. George

    Quite amazing and very enjoyable, not to mention instructive.

    January 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm
  • Adam

    Bringing this poem to the nearest Chinese restaurant and putting the results on Youtube.


    January 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm
  • Erika

    South African…what an amazing challenge. English is my second language and I love it. There is nothing more amazing than an artist’s words or notes put together to create something pretty fucking (one of my favourite English words…so many uses) awesome. Awe.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm
  • Nick

    Umm American is the most spoken? I don’t think so. Try UK, Australia, New Zealand and oh yeah over 1 billion Indians who use speak and spell British English.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:49 pm
  • Steve

    That was very clever, which rhymes with lever and does not sound like leaver. We as Americans speak very poor English. I wish it was better taught.

    January 11, 2012 at 2:55 am
  • Robyn

    Middle aged New Zealand finds this easy although I will be interested to see what my Secondary Students who live in the world of texting make of it.

    January 11, 2012 at 5:41 am
  • Lois

    I lived in a former British colony so understood the spelling differences from Britain’s English and American’s English. I only had a few that puzzled me, but then English has always been my forte.

    January 11, 2012 at 7:18 am
  • Alexis

    Gave me quite a word/rhyme high

    January 11, 2012 at 7:49 am
  • Robert

    roof – “ruff” in American
    creek – “crick” in American

    We lost the proper pronounciation of words like “book”. Listen to a Scot – they say it correctly.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:31 am
  • Steve Kudlak

    I need not you needles they’re needless to me, but need my neat trousers aneed to be nead I should have need of your needles indeed.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:38 am
  • Tom Ford

    Sorry, what exactly is the problem here? I have a friend who’s not a native English speaker and he had no trouble with it either. I guess it would be hard for Americans – the same ones that cannot point out the US of A on a globe?

    January 11, 2012 at 8:44 am
  • Dave


    January 11, 2012 at 9:48 am
  • Edward

    ‘American English’ is a mistake already!

    January 11, 2012 at 10:12 am
  • Paul Simpson

    @Tom Ford: If you want to pretend that you knew the meaning, spelling, and pronunciation of every word on this list, then go ahead. Terpsichore, anemone, Balmoral, gunwale, etc. I have an undergrad from Stanford, an MBA from Wharton, and speak 4 languages and I didn’t know at least a dozen of these words. Quit trying to come off as smarter than the rest and denegrating Americans just because you’re pissed off your country (assuming you’re British) consistently is ranked far below the US in pretty much every conceivable economic category–you just come off sounding like an a-hole. I’ve been to Northern England and met people to whom I had to explain that the sun and the moon are not the same thing. So you keep your perceived superiority in geographical awareness and I’ll sleep well knowing that, at the end of the day, my country has been kicking your country’s ass since 1776.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:26 am
  • Jez

    Paul Simpson is a cock

    January 11, 2012 at 11:30 am
  • Eno

    @ Tom Ford and Paul Simpson…..Why do some people get so over the top about something that is a bit of fun. It just helps one understand that english is full rules that are mystifying to non-english speakers..I enjoyed it and I feel no need to bring in the cultural differences, or who is better than who at anything to make some sort of silly point.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm
  • Jane Corbett

    I’d say Paul Simpson has a huge chip on his shoulder poor bloke…why does that poem denigrate Americans ? It’s laughing at how impossible English is to learn to pronounce and all our irregular spelling/pronounciation combinations, that’s all, and enjoying the eccentricities of it all – developed over centuries. English is such a wonderfully rich language, aren’t we lucky to speak it.

    January 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm
  • Lindsay

    @ Paul Simpson. You seem like an utter delight. Oh what a state us lowly northerners would be in if it wasn’t for you educating us with your vast knowledge.

    Besides Tom just said it would be hard for Americans. Lets presume he was referring to pronunciation (the actual aim of the poem) and not the meaning of the words. There are distinct differences in pronunciation between countries with words such as aluminium (a-loom-in-um) and herbs(‘erbs)so I’m sure there are others which appear above.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm
  • Georgio

    Paul Simpson is just an American. However it doesn’t mean any good in the rest of the world. The English they speak/they think/ has Irish origin anyway. However the teachers over there should teach English in their schools.

    January 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm
  • Schog

    @Paul Simpson…
    OUCH! LOL!
    Thanks for that, man! His arrogant remark was unnecessary.

    January 11, 2012 at 2:05 pm
  • Tien Gow..

    @Paul Simpson. What makes you think Tom Ford is British?

    January 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm
  • Tien Gow

    Very clever. There are other verses in the same vein, but this is a masterpiece.

    English has always been very accepting of foreign words. Ballet and Chalet are both French — ask them why the double-L in one and single-L in the other. Psyche, Persephone, Terpsichore are Greek, which has its own pronunciation rules. Cough and enough are vestiges of Old West Saxon, where the pronunciation has changed over time but the spelling has not. And in a few cases, the author is guilty of mispronunciation himself: even in American English, “grant” and “aunt” do not rhyme.

    I see this as a tribute to the English language in that it is versatile enough to accept foreign words and retain the original pronunciation.

    January 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm
  • Robert Deathers

    @Paul Simpson. The Poem was written by Gerade Nolst Trenitè (1870-1976), a Dutchman!
    There are a number different poems or verses in the same vein – many written be non-native speakers of English who are studying the language.
    Modern English is a language which “borrows” a lot of vocabulary from other languages – this is a process which began with the Norman conquest of England in 1066, after which Old English (Germanic) became fused with Old (Normanic) French to form early middle English, the language we speak today. This process of fusion with other languages has continued ever since.
    Oh yes and 1776 – English Settlers fought against the “tyranny” of a German born King – the English Settlers won! And this statememt is no more exact than yours. Were it not for such English Settlers and their principles – you would not have yours (principles).

    January 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm
  • Tigger

    @Paul Simpson, you’re only projecting the anger you feel at yourself for discovering that you’re uncultured and ignorant. As for gloating about your country’s superiority .. what a joke, look around you and see the walls imploding.

    January 11, 2012 at 4:09 pm
  • thomas ward

    i,m english,i speak english and anyone who found that hard must be i assume be either foreign or thick! all the words are basic everyday words, if english people struggle with this then i can only think that the english taught in schools is way below par!

    January 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm
  • Mike

    @Paul Simpon

    Terpsichore was a character in Greek mythology – known for dancing.
    Anemone is a genus of flower.
    Balmoral is a caste in Scotland, one of the residences of Queen Elizabeth II.
    Gunwale is the top of the side of a ship.

    Oh, and I assume the individual responsible for the Internet (the medium through which you conducted your disparaging rant) was American? Oh no, wait,, he was born in London. By the way, if you don’t know what disparaging means, may I suggest the Oxford ENGLISH Dictionary – it’s a cracking read.


    One more thing… you probably meant “Sun”, not “sun”. Genius.

    January 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm
  • CG

    @Paul Simpson. You sir are a cock. You don’t know the word anemone and haven’t heard of the place Balmoral? Then I think you are the one who needs educating. Also don’t talk about people in this country who may not have had the privileged upbringing you may have had and who lack in education, many people cannot help not being as blatantly clever as you, and I’m sure there are many people in your own country who are the same, so just appreciate it rather than rubbing other peoples noses in it and putting them down. And I don’t think you can really brag about economic superiority when your country is over a trillion dollars in debt. You are the classic american stereotypical cock.

    January 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm
  • Paul Simpson

    Hahaha. You all make me laugh. Don’t get so worked up. I was simply having a bit of fun at the expense of poor Tom. He was asking for it, suggesting that he and his superior friends had no problem at all with any of the words on here and that the Americans–who “can’t find the USofA on a globe”–were the only ones that had any trouble understanding all the words. He was being an a-hole so I was one right back. My remarks had absolutely zero to do with the poem or the author thereof; I really enjoyed the poem–just not Tom’s remarks. (And, Lindsay, clearly Tom was not just saying it might be hard for Americans to grasp the different pronunciation. Go back and read what he wrote again.) Oh, and we all know Al Gore invented the internet. He said so.

    January 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm
  • British/Northern English/European/Human

    Brilliant! I enjoyed the tongue twisting nature of the poem. Very clever. I am certainly unsure about the pronunciation of some of the words. The poet must have gone to Harvard, unlike my inferior self.

    There’s no need to be Xenophobic. The English language is so diverse and exciting to use. This poem is a clear example of that.

    January 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm
  • Jordan

    The poem is meant to trick you. The rhyme scheme sometimes matches, and sometimes doesn’t. It’s very clever, I got tripped up a few times. There are also words in which the pronunciation differs based on the context. i.e. I play the bass, or I caught a bass when I went fishing. So when I came across that word I wasn’t sure which way to pronounce it. I read the poem in my head and I assume that made it a whole lot easier. If I were to read it out loud I assume I’d make a plethora more mistakes.

    January 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm
  • Tom

    Wow people. I am not English or American so I can be fair here. Tom WAS being an “a-hole” in his post. Paul comments were a little extreme but not unfair. what I think most interesting is everyone took the side of there own country and did not even care who was right. Especially CG. Why is Paul a “cock” for pointing that there are SOME Brits who are not as educated, but Tom is not a cock for saying it about ALL Americans? there are a lot of words here that not all know. it does not make them not smart. (Why would a American care about one of the summer castles of the Queen?) Finally, while America might not be quite as big as it was, it still is economically superior to most countries in the world. And it may be imploding but not as fast as Europe. That is a fact and I am ok with it.

    January 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm
  • Ric from nowhere USA

    Wow, it is sad a bit of fun with words that i was sure i said corectly and at the same time i was sure i did not say it corectly, lead to this much flamming. I would say our smallminded leaders of the WESTERN world are crushing us all fairly well, be it rampant PC, debt, and/or class warfare. Grab yer boots yall, the dung is gonna get deep.

    January 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm
  • trevor

    Pirates and Pilates.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm
  • Elle

    Really enjoyed the poem and, as an English student studying foreign languages, found it interesting that I struggled with a few words.
    It’s a shame that some people found it necessary to swear at each other over this when it was obviously intended for our enjoyment and enrichment.

    January 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm
  • dualist

    The most widely used form of English is International English, not American English.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm
  • Bex

    Was rather amused by the poem, and even more amused by the comments! Gosh, isnt the internet just made for these things? XD

    Any way, thought it would be amusing to point out that with a very suble dutch accent “grant” and “aunt” do actually rhyme.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm
  • Bex

    Nooooooes! I left out the silent ‘T’ the barsteward.

    January 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm
  • sebastian

    weau get your head out of your arse !!note i said arse not ass !! British english is the most common form of english used in the commonwealth !1you yanks have bastardised the language !!

    January 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm
  • S

    Note to all Americans saying American English is the most spoken- think of this, the ancestors of your country were originally British, the American variant and spelling only came about because America wanted to be independant from the UK hence the creation of American dictionaries after US independence. Though America might be the largest country in the world, your roots and language come from the very small country of the UK. Don’t forget that. And it will always be viewed that BE>AME

    January 12, 2012 at 12:03 am
  • Andrew

    I speak full on received pronunciation english and i’m convinced ‘grant’ and ‘aunt’ rhyme. Couldn’t manage a dutch accent if you paid me.

    January 12, 2012 at 12:26 am
  • Steven

    As an amateur ASL/ESL (hearing impaired)American, from the deep south (Mississippi) with a heavy red-neck drawl (Gulf Southern American English Dialect) and a basic, but not fluent, grasp of the Spanish language, I read this aloud with ease and without error until I said “Arkan’s-ass”. This was due to cadence, the previous two words, and the fact that I often, INTENTIONALLY, pronounce Arkansas that way, or by saying “AR-Kanas”.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:33 am
  • LK

    While we’re on the subject: in the field of image processing, there’s something called a “Hough transform”. Does anyone know how to pronounce the “Hough”?

    January 12, 2012 at 2:10 am
  • Lois

    Get a life the lot of you, this is just a bit of fun, not something to turn into a world war!

    January 12, 2012 at 3:06 am
  • rk

    What fun! Please do not take one American’s comments as representative of all Americans’ vocabulary or pronunciation. I detected a teeny bit of American-bashing in a couple of the posts. (And not such a teeny bit of disbelief and derision that anyone might possibly know more than one particular commenter.) I am a born and bred New Yorker. There were only two words in this poem that I had to look up a definition for (feoffer and ay). I simply like to read and to know what I am reading, so I look up those words I do not know as I go. Always have. That’s how children were taught in NYC public schools forty years ago, and how many others have always chosen to teach themselves. Yes, some of the words are originally from other languages. English has always grown that way, adopting and adapting words that seem particularly apt, rather than reinventing the wheel, or the word. Pronunciation is of course variable by region—and is not merely a choice between British and American English. Within both the U.K and the U.S.A. there are many regional differences in pronunciation that may be considered correct. And bear in mind also the millions whose first language is English who reside in other lands. Surely the British and American users of the language are no longer the owners of the tongue, nor even the arbiters of what is “correct”. Language is a living thing that changes and adapts over time. Vive la langue!

    January 12, 2012 at 3:56 am
  • Destine

    I’m from the United States and I am pretty sure American English is not the most used English language version. There are so many dialects of English used in the United Stated alone that combine other languages with the British English, that I feel as though American English is kind of like a creole.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:34 am
  • G2

    Re: @Paul Simpson – 11 January <>.

    In most English speaking countries (English as their first language, not the use of the oxymoronic phrase of American English) it would be an animal cruelty offence to kick an ass!

    January 12, 2012 at 5:00 am
  • G2

    Re: @Paul Simpson – 11 January .

    In most English speaking countries (English as their first language, not the use of the oxymoronic phrase of American English) it would be an animal cruelty offence to kick an ass!

    January 12, 2012 at 5:02 am
  • KS

    I just wanted to point out, for those who might not know, there is no one “American” pronunciation. To the person who said that grant and aunt do not rhyme in American English, that just depends on what region you’re from. Where I’m from (Long Island) and where I live now (Seattle), they do rhyme. Same to the person who gave pronunciations for creek and roof–I do not pronounce those with the pronunciation that you provided (I say crEEk and rOOf, like they’re written).

    January 12, 2012 at 5:35 am
  • Catrina

    @S AMERICA is not the largest country in the world, by population nor square MILEAGE. And for Gods sake, please stop touting your country for being better. Us ‘yanks’ kicked your ‘arse’ once, and will gladly do it again. “Don’t forget that.”

    January 12, 2012 at 7:16 am
  • Grant

    Not sure what is so difficult about this. Then again, I’m Australian. :-)

    January 12, 2012 at 10:20 am
  • Vladimir

    @Paul Simpson
    The fact that Americans are ignorant in most cases is simply a well known fact. And there is no need to prove it. But you, Paul Simpson, have just proven the fact than even the education at Stanford and MBA from Wharton cannot help make you smarter. May be just add more arrogance to you. You have no culture, no history, no roots… no even proper language.I met people in US who could not even figure out where Canada is! So, don’t tell us about your education. And, after all, it was the US where the economic recession began. This is your greed and stupidity in same time that led whole your country to deep shit. And when mentioning who was kicking which ass just remember that the rest of the world has been kicking your asses everywhere for years – in Vietnam, in Korea, in Afganistan, in Irak – you name it… . What do you want to demonstrate? SUperiority? Forget about it!

    January 12, 2012 at 11:27 am
  • Jenny Donahue

    I’m an American, but I’ve lived overseas before and noticed that much of the English spoken overseas is British English, which is fine. I’ve told many of my friends over the years that the “correct” English pronounciation is actually the British version, since it originated there. The most difficult part of learning English, for foreigners, seems to be the nonsensical slang expressions, which make no sense in another country and culture.

    January 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm
  • Ben Wilkes

    Why do all of these types of posts always end up with political angst? I am British, infact, English. This is written in ‘English’. Not American-English. However; It should be easily spoken aloud by either nation, providing you have an education. Some of these words are pronounced completely different varying from which region of the UK you’re from. We have ‘Queens English’, which by definition, is ‘proper’ pronounciation. Frankly, It’s difficult to maintain, and people view you as a pretentious arse.

    Catrina, When did you personally kick ‘Arse’? We’ve been fighting your wars for the last century. Me personally, I have been involved in such wars. May I add, alongside the US Military. I love ‘Yanks’. Some of the best friends I have, are ‘Yanks’. If you’re bumping your gums about your ‘Independence’, then maybe think about why your countrymen prevailed? Our little island, one of the smallest in the world, was fighting battles all over the world. This little pitbull of a country, we had the world locked down. Fact. It’s no surprising that you won, considering our man power and supply chain had to cross an entire body of water. It is quite clearly, In this day and age,’Water under the bridge’, We’re now the closest ally you have.

    LK; I believe it is pronounced ‘Huff’ but with a ‘Th’ rather than an ‘FF’. I have no idea how to break a word down and write how it is said. My old school was called ‘Thistley Hough’ though. :)

    January 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm
  • James

    @S: And English came from the Germans. Who cares? Who cares which is most spoken. Who cares what slang non-native English speakers use or if they spell color with a u. English is English. You are all idiots.

    January 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm
  • Olwen

    Really interesting and fun to read :)

    ‘Grant’ and ‘aunt’ do rhyme if you come from Ireland… pronouncing the latter as ‘ont’ rather than ‘ant’ is considered to be very posh or pretentious in most of Ireland.

    January 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm
  • Cole

    Hey, I’m an English teacher (Canadian, with very clear voice/accent). I came across this post the other day, and just couldn’t resist recording myself (anonymously,that is!) reading the poem aloud and uploading to YouTube (I saw a few requests, above). Yes, others have already done this, but the difference is that I have included the full scrolling transcript so you can read along, to check your pronunciation. Hope it helps someone out there!!

    January 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm
  • Cole

    Hey, I’m an English teacher (Canadian, with very clear voice/accent). I came across this post the other day, and just couldn’t resist recording myself (anonymously,that is!) reading the poem aloud and uploading to YouTube (I saw a few requests, above). Yes, others have already done this, but the difference is that I have included the full scrolling transcript so you can read along, to check your pronunciation. Hope it helps someone out there!! Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5myI9TDFDw

    January 12, 2012 at 7:05 pm
  • Graeme Payne

    What’s so difficult about it? Of course, I am a native British English speaker. Through the course of six decades I have been required to learn the Canadian dialect, and then the American language (which they mistakenly call “English”.) Of course, there are many dialects of American also – I am currently in the third decade of learning the “deep south” version. It is always a pleasure when I travel back to England where I know everyone speaks properly!

    January 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm
  • Isabella Sarkis (@isa_belha)

    Just lofev to practice!!!
    I’m brazilian and studied English for 12 years…
    I love the pronounciation and just loved it!
    I just can’t hear it… where i can find for someone to read it out loud?

    January 13, 2012 at 2:39 am
  • Sergey R. Stefanovich

    If anyone is interested to know, this is a rather rough reproduction of what appears to be the original 1922 version of Trenité’s poem. The 1922 version is funnier, more challenging, and uses different words such as “quay.” It’s also divided into 58 4-line stanzas, unlike the above single gigantic block of text which obscures the intended and wonderful rhythm.

    January 13, 2012 at 3:54 am
  • Alicia

    That was fun! wasn’t so difficult (I’m Australian), but i guess thats because we take pronunciations from Americans and the English! haha

    January 13, 2012 at 6:38 am
  • Just a guy

    Someone asked what rhymes Hough? Roof, if you are American, but for me, it is tough.

    January 13, 2012 at 8:30 am
  • Anne

    What is “Fe0ffer” supposed to be? i cant figure it out. Looks like a typo…
    (Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
    Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.)

    January 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm
  • Karen

    I’m American. I was born, raised, and college educated in a small, rural Arkansas town. I enjoyed reading this. My thick, stereotypical drawl might sound funny to you when I read it, but I can assure you I made no mistakes my first time through except with “Terpsichore.” At the time I had never seen the word (of course now I know it also.)

    Anyway, my point is that while there are plenty of American’s who have chosen not to utilize free, public education, some of us have and have faired quiet well; even in Arkansas.

    January 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm
  • Philipp

    To be in included in your next poem:
    diver and driver, but river.

    January 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm
  • Luna

    do not give up in pure frustration
    nor fail to try with hesitation
    words are words a touch much more
    I’ll take a smile and not keep score
    no more be needed to make my day
    but pleasantries in all you say
    the world grows darker, shadows long
    why not write a poem or sing a song
    sit and have a friendly chat
    take off your shoes, your coat and hat
    have a cup of tea with honey
    for just one day think not of money
    life is short and oh so sweet
    please spare a smile if we should meet*

    January 14, 2012 at 9:52 am
  • Johnny Appleseed

    One glaring problem is that this poem contains words of French (Norman) origin as well as words of Germanic origin. Though both have come to be recognized as “English” words, technically they’re not. The Germanic and Romance language families are VERY different.

    English is a language born from the amalgamation of many different dialects due to invading tribes within the area; hence we have multiple words for the same item or slightly different versions of the same item not to mention extremely inconsistent grammar.

    If you truly wish to understand how it’s possible two words with identical roots can be pronounced differently, a lesson in linguistic history will prove insightful.

    January 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm
  • Patrick

    “Language is about communication”
    While I can appreciate the humour,and the consternation caused by myriad pronunciations of similarly spelt words to students.
    I wonder how many people actually understand the meanings of all the words, and can use them in ordinary day to day speech, in order to communicate effectively, and how many people just use their command of the English language in order to command a type of insidious intellectual superiority over those less able.

    January 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm
  • Juan Cepeda

    excellent. I had to charge me with 5 cans of Red Bull and the pacience of Job to finish it. It took time, but help me very much in pronunciation.
    P.D. I could only 90%. The rest was difficult for an English-a-second-language begginer. Congrats!

    January 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm
  • Curt Doolittle

    The correct English pronunciation for any word is the British English version. In context, American English is a regional dialect. Here is why:

    The largest plurality of americans are actually of German speaking heritage (with english the second largest and declining), especially outside of the five main immigrant cities. American English pronunciation was heavily affected by the German immigrant population, and American english is pronounced like german: flatter (more monotonic), more factual, with less inflection, and with less space between the middle of the tongue and the roof of the mouth – ie: without the concave curve to the tongue, giving it less ‘o’ and more ‘e’ sound. In the Hispanic and italian communities there is more inflection, (not to mention the black communities where ‘acting dumb’ is a sign of group membership and commitment.)

    Like their british cousins, the way americans pronounce and speak is not (as other commenter’s suggest) a creole, because AE is becoming LESS varied in the united states due to education and television – instead, Americans use language to denote their social class. Which is as ever present as it is in Britain. The variation is among the lower classes, while the upper classes are increasingly homogenous.

    American social behavior differs from Brits largely because of ‘market culture’ versus the British post-aristocratic culture – which an attempt to imitate the upper middle class as well as possible without crossing the border into Haughty. When Americans go to work they are ‘in the marketplace’ and they may often act differently ‘in the marketplace’ than they do at home. Some of the lower proletariat fight this. But good manners in the states are better described as good ‘marketplace manners’. This is what makes americans appear odd to most other cultures. We’re the only place whose only heritage is commercialism. We don’t have anything else to go by.

    January 15, 2012 at 9:04 pm
  • Curt Doolittle

    Oh, and one other thing. Yes, americans are abysmally ignorant. It’s true.

    In order to adapt to a) enfranchisement of african americans, and b) immigration outside of europe, the education system has focused on building ‘confidence’ and ‘technocratic skills’, and all but abandoned history, geography, politics, ethics and philosophy. The reason is simple: teaching history, geography, politics, ethics and philosophy requires one make value judgements. This is why americans test at the bottom of the developed world in actual skills, but have the highest confidence.

    So, in effect, Americans have been ‘manufactured’ in large numbers to be compliant out of ignorance – and to have no common heritage other than the ‘religion’ of democracy and colonial guilt. In effect Democracy is the state religion. Unfortunately, this has only served to fuel American puritanism and military expansion. (Although it has also allowed europe to spend on social programs instead of share it’s part of the burden of policing the world system of energy, finance and trade.)

    So yes, Americans are ignorant. Every survey we’ve found confirms it. And living here is painful by comparison because of it – an the people must rely on ideology for decision making because they are too poorly educated to do otherwise. Outside of the upper middle class (which is a specific group in the USA, that is different from europe) the body politic is abysmally ignorant. The average brit without college is better informed that the majority of American college graduates.

    January 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm
  • Study English in UK

    I think most of the lines have the rhyme words and its really a nice way to improve the pronunciation aspects through these poems.However it is necessary that these poems may also have best of efforts to let improve the users English

    January 16, 2012 at 8:29 am
  • Kaiyum

    hehe, really interesting, i can pronounce the most of them, but had little bit of difficulty.

    January 16, 2012 at 8:31 am
  • Sarah

    @ Vladimir-
    You have just proven to anyone who will read that you have no self control. Why do you take the words of a stranger so seriously? You forget that the wealthy few are much louder than the whole. You should do your reaserch before you at on your impulses. Shouting about steryotypes, most of which are untrue is what makes you look like the fool. I am from maryland. I major in molecular biology (genetics). I’m thin, I would rather aviod a fight, Pride myself in tact and respect and I also haapen to be boh poor and humble. If wanting for ahome and the ability to feed my disabled son is greedy, then I am guilty as charged. My home is 180sq feet. It runs on solar power, I wash my laundry and bathe with rainwater and I recycle. I gather food from the surrounding forest and I go to school bcecaue I have good grades. Sure america has it’s share of lous, well dressed idiots. But so does any other country. You will find that the majority of these people starting wars are not doing what the people want. Self serving heads of companies, they have no sense of the reality I liv in. It makes me angry, but if I am not a millionare I can’t do anything aout it. I proteted and got peppersprayed. They threatened to take my son from me. The collage threatened to kick me out if I get a criminal record. Tresspassing counts for that. This isn’t the democracy you would think it is. It’s a sham. Yet again, if you had done your research you would know that. So please stop lmping the entire nation’s population in with the very few. If I’m not enough for you, My best friend is majoring in thoeretical physics, my fiance is in computer sciences. Oh and by the way americans cherish havning roots. I am Irish,Russian and my grandmother is inuit. My best friend is korean/german/egyptian. My fiance is Russian/sioux Indian/vietnamese. I also have not memorized the dictionary have you? No? So my quetion for you is, why do you have to be such a illogical, whiny jerk? One stupid person bothers you and you have to insult the whole room?

    You an find pictures of homes like mine here.
    Tell me, does that look like a estate full of greed to you?

    January 16, 2012 at 10:16 am
  • Susan

    You… whether Brits or Irish are doing a big bit of family bashing here. Many Americans have ancestors all over the world. It seems that with so many people hating America we wouldn’t have so many bloody foreigners here, so there must be something wonderful about America. I mean really, I don’t notice many people trying to sneak over the borders to enter Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Cuba, and, I’m sure this would be true for many other nations around the world. So, if you hate America, take your Euros and go visit Iran for your next vacation:)
    What we have that many of you don’t: We have freedom, the freedom to be, to create, to screw-up (you might want to look that one up) and then to laugh it all off and to start over again. Catrina above said “Us ‘yanks’ kicked your ‘arse’ once, and will gladly do it again. “Don’t forget that.” Well, as I recall the last “arse” to get kicked was not ours, so you might want to reconsider. We still hang “red coats and turn coats” here in the trees at Halloween:) And, given that it is the Euro that has hurt the European nations, you might want to reconsider that mistake also. Now..for those who might be wondering, I’m speaking only tongue-in-cheek about that last part and all of it with good wit and humor.

    January 16, 2012 at 7:28 pm
  • Kate

    Arkansas does not rhyme with four.


    The last syllable is is like Mackinac!

    January 17, 2012 at 12:30 am
  • Jo

    Lol you aim you speech at brits but we do not even use the euro, moron

    January 17, 2012 at 1:23 am
  • Paige youdontneedtoknow

    Yeah, I’m 15 years old and I pronouced every word correctly. Is that good, or bad?

    January 17, 2012 at 2:06 am
  • Marco

    I got them all right 100% A+ yaaa I’m so smucking fart

    January 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm
  • Shocked

    Wow, people from all over are taking what was meant to be a fun poem WAY out of context and turning it into an ugly bashing. This poem is not saying any one person is superior to the next, it is just a fun poem meant to keep you tongue tied. Calm down, read it for what it is, and everyone needs to take a deep breath and get over themselves!

    January 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm
  • David K.

    A few infelicities here:
    Better see to plaque versus plague;
    Nice to see feoffer/feoffor corrected.
    Amusing piece–rest in.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm
  • lostforever64

    Reading through comments, one particular smart arse stood out;
    “If you truly wish to understand how it’s possible two words with identical roots can be pronounced differently, a lesson in linguistic history will prove insightful.”

    I think somebody completely missed the point of the poem, which was clearly a dance through a language of mixed origins to grasp a little amusement from the variety of spelling and pronunciations we have inherited. The mixed origins are part of the fun.
    I think you will enjoy it much more as marvelling at the nuances of the English language and less as a confused dullard asking why so many words are pronounced differently, even though spelled with similar letters.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:29 pm
  • sally d

    Wow…what I read was a great example of how hard it is for people to learn the engish language. This is not a test about who is smarter…individually or nationally…it is a great example of how and why English is tough to master unless you grow up in an English speaking environment. Yjose of you who seem yo think ot is some kind of competition need to relax a bit…therapy wouldn’t hurt…

    January 18, 2012 at 4:30 am
  • CN

    The person that wrote this was very creative!

    I pronounce “aunt” the same as “haunt”, though this is not characteristic of the area that I live in (Alabama). My parents are from the north, and I would describe my accent as just plain American English–people can never guess where I’m from by the way I speak.

    January 18, 2012 at 6:09 am
  • Tash


    What are you doing, man?

    Why are you posting your opinions of the US on a British website?

    And you start off the whole thing with “The correct English pronunciation for any word is the British English version. In context, American English is a regional dialect. Here is why:”

    Who asked you that?? You sound like a crazy person.

    Next time you get the urge to share your opinion, write your comments down in a private journal. Then at least one person who reads them will care.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm
  • American woman

    A longer version of this poem, similar to the author’s final version is provided here, with some inclusions of words from earlier editions:


    How unfortunate to come across the hateful and haughty comments on this page. I had rather been enjoying the delightful verses. Please, save your prejudiced language for your personal journals, diaries and therapists.

    January 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm
  • Roxanne

    I know on the East Coast of the U.S. if you pronounce “aunt” in a way that doesn’t rhyme with “grant” you get looked at funny. Also, it worries me that I am a college senior and I had just never encountered or heard some of these words before. If I had, I would know how to pronounce them.

    January 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm
  • Karl

    I said this with nearly no problem. My hiccup came with “wind”. Did you mean “wind” or “wind”? It is unclear.

    As for accent, I have the old “North Missouri midlands dialect” from Midwestern US. The words which create problems are “Missouri” (pronounced Mizz-er-ah) and “wash” (worsh). I am certain most of the world will rejoice to hear the accent is dying; nearly dead, in fact. I hope to participate in the Accent Meme on YouTube and preserve it while I can.

    CN, I grew up in Dayton, Ohio and was frequently made fun of for my accent. I know how you feel!

    January 18, 2012 at 5:54 pm
  • matt

    I’ve been teaching EFL for six years, learning the subtle differences between Aemrican and British English and I would be surprised if 90% of the world’s native speakers were familiar with the correct pronunciation of EVERY word here. Our best guess is not always correct. I’m looking up 19 words/names from this list to be sure.

    January 19, 2012 at 12:31 am
  • Katt

    you had to look up 19 and you teach English?! The only one I looked up was Melpomene and I nailed it. If you can’t pronounce all of those words you should reconsider your field.

    January 19, 2012 at 11:20 am
  • Tash

    Katt… He isn’t teaching a masters course in English lit, he teaches English as a foreign language… That would be basic English if you didn’t know. How many Scandinavians do you think are raising their hand in his class and asking him to pronounce and define Terpsichore or Balmoral? Do you always try to sound smug and superior or just when you make comments on thepoke?

    January 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm
  • Eduardo

    I’m brazilian and I study English for a while. I got astonished with this poem: it’s an excelent exercise for foreign learners! I can pronounce correctly almost every word of it in british accent, and only seven words took me to look them up in the dictionary. All I need for now is to improve my automatic speaking, as native speakers do: that’s where I screwed up my toefl score. I would suggest all foreign learners memorise the poem for life! ;^DDD

    January 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm
  • Teash

    Thanks, Tash! I appreciated your comments for Katt!

    January 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm
  • Jessica

    I like it I like it :)
    Learing English for… mhm… 6 or 7 years now and I know how to pronounce all these words. I didn’t look up anything!
    Mhm… but I think I have to know all this ’cause I want to be an English teacher here in Germany…! And a German teacher to :)

    January 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm
  • Paul

    I would have to say as well (to Katt) that I wouldn’t expect someone who teaches English Foreign Language (which I can only assume means in a different country, and therefore they may well not be speaking English as a first language themselves), to pronounce all of these words correctly.

    For the record, these were the 10 (being British), which I was not 100% certain of when I read them.

    sward – wasn’t sure whether it wasn’t a silent d or not.
    loth – I’m too used to alternative spelling loath, so I had to check this online to be certain.
    fe0ffer – I wasn’t sure what word this was supposed to be
    gunwale – I’m too used to alternative spelling gunnel, hence had to check.

    I should point out that thinking how they might sound and knowing for certain exactly how they sound straight away has been differentiated my answers. There were only three that I would have got wrong if it was just to have an idea of pronunciation.

    19, I don’t think that’s too bad at all for someone teaching English as a foreign language. I’m sure there are probably a lot more than 19 words in the list which would be completely unnecessary to teach people, whether foreign or not.

    Good for you for knowing all the others words Kat, but you don’t need to be unpleasantly arrogant about it. You, like me, are obviously not in the top 10%.

    January 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm
  • Tree

    Woah Katt, there is a word you might want to become friends with so that might keep some: Humility.

    My mother has an M.S. in English. She began as a high school English teacher and was an editor for 40 years (with awards). Writers enjoyed working for her since she ‘corrected’ in pencil (vs. red pen) to avoid being intimidating. She simply enjoys the English language and reads books about words.

    HOWEVER, she has long said that original thought is more important than grammatical skills (which is why she was employed). Mistakes can be swept up (editors are the janitors of words) but original thought cannot be manufactured. She said that she has met more than a few sadistic editors who take sick pleasure in trying to demean others with the almighty red pen.

    I like to write. Do I know the words on this list? No. Can I look them up and learn them? Yes. Writing is fun and is like painting with words for me. Thank you, Mother for not scaring or scarring me. May anyone else reading this enjoy the protection and security from under the wings of my mother–she would be there for you. Read. Write. Learn. Be happy.

    January 19, 2012 at 6:20 pm
  • Claire

    My native language is American English with a mid-west accent. Three or four of the lines only work with a British accent. That said, I still stumbled because the rhythm of the poem is difficult. I guess I need to work on reading out-loud. :)

    January 19, 2012 at 9:04 pm
  • Uwe

    Why do people have to turn everything into a battle of the egos? This is challenging for everyone, even native speakers, though obviously not in the same measure… Just chillax and admit you can’t pronounce ‘aver’ because no one ever says it, you don’t know what it means and you never even said it yourself. Just… please, get a life.

    January 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm
  • Skid

    i have grown up with American English so a number of these words are not in my vocabulary. I really have to doubt anyone that claims to have all or most of the words pronounced correctly since what is correct depends greatly on what dictionary one is using. I really wonder if any of them looked up every word in a dictionary to make sure their pronunciation is correct. I think that the point of the poem is to illustrate just how difficult the language is to learn as a second language. As a side point, it is most interesting to me that a person speaking the English language can usually be understood by another English speaker, no matter how bad the accent. As an example, spanish spoken in different countries is more difficult to be understood. I have a number of letters written by my gggrandfather in the 1850′s (he was a farmer in the mountains of Virginia) and the words were spelled phonetically but the letters are quite readable and a most interesting window into how he lived and thought. Some have ridiculed him for lack of education but I find his writing very instructive. He had a better understanding of the politics of the day than the majority of people living today.

    January 20, 2012 at 12:36 am
  • EssisDaddy

    Must be wonderful being you, Katt – how’s it feel, being perfect and all?

    Smug, self-satisfied arrogance suits no one, and in a forum such as this makes you extremely disliked.

    I suppose you’d “nail” the longer version of this, wouldn’t you – being flawless.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:57 am
  • Tash

    Two things I want to say: ONE, I like thepoke’s community. TWO: I love this poem. I think it’s funny and interesting, but those who use it to judge intelligence or education are totally off the mark. These rare words… you’ll almost never hear spoken aloud. I like to read and I feel my vocabulary is fair. I understand the meaning of these words but I just realized I’ve been pronouncing some of them incorrectly. Would you judge me as being unintelligent because I prefer to read books instead of listening to books-on-tape?

    January 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm
  • Indrani

    This is brilliant! Reminded me of the great Odgen Nash! Congratulations to the poet! :o)

    January 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm
  • Blubbedey

    ‘what is correct depends greatly on what dictionary one is using’
    The language is English. The correct way to spell and pronounce things is the English way.

    There is no such thing as a ‘British’ accent.

    January 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm
  • judith

    This is fun! Thank you

    January 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm