Archive for October, 2009

Even worse verse

October 23, 2009

Here’s another poem showing the problems with English pronunciation.

It wasn’t until we started teaching English that CC and I realised just how difficult it is to help foreigners to speak  a language that is so thoroughly UNphonetic with so few rules to hang on to.



Poem ‘The Chaos’ : Pronunciation and spelling

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 rhymes 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, knob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer 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 it up!!!

 And then there are so many strange pronuciations for place names as for example, in Norfolk:

Costessey (Cossey)

Tacolneston (Tackleston)

Wymondham (Windam)

Shotesham (Shotsam)

I’m sure you can add to this list . . . . . . .

Italian Class

October 21, 2009

The English classes started again this term but, so far, CC and I are off to a rather slow start.

Most of her group are taking late holidays so the most ‘students’ she has had amounts to two so far: last week no-one turned up!

My beginners’ group now consists of one lady and two 12 year old girls from last year plus three adult newcomers and two teenagers.

The interesting news is that there’s a new class at the library this term – Italian – given by an Italian photographer who exhibited his wonderful bird pictures in the Summer.

It’s years since I studied Italian and I have to admit I’ve forgotten most of it, so I thought it would be a good idea to go along.

There have been three classes so far (I missed last week because of a bad cold) but we still haven’t progressed beyond going through the pronounciation rules. At least Italian is an entirely phonetic language where every letter or combination has the same sound, but following Guido’s explanations in French with a heavy Italian accent is not always easy and when he writes the French version of the Italian sounds (thanks to his wife) they mean nothing to me.

In the two lessons I’ve attended I’ve probably spoken no more than six isolated words but I will keep going in the hopes that there might be a conversation soon.

In conclusion, I wonder if you have come across this poem which highlights the difficulties of pronouncing English  for foreign learners:

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! And now you wish perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead, it’s said like bed, not bead-
for goodness’ sake don’t call it ‘deed’!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth, or brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s doze and rose and lose-
Just look them up- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart-
Come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d learned to speak it when I was five!
And yet to write it, the more I sigh,
I’ll not learn how ’til the day I die.


The Anniversary

October 14, 2009

Yesterday saw a (mostly) pleasant but low key celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary.

I woke up feeling better than I expected due to a bad cold and took Bear his card and present with his coffee. CC laughed that she had been given the task of buying my card for him and his card for me when she went into town. She had chosen one with a bear on the front and I wrote inside:

You can be like a bear with a sore arse, or a cuddly teddy bear. Guess which I prefer. . . .

Happy Anniversary, love S

He had typed (his handwriting is illegible) a somewhat formal message :cards

Sandy, this is to wish you a Happy Anniversary and thank you for twenty five years,  my love as always. R

Last time we were in town together he had (surprisingly) urged me to think of a present and I chose a plain silver ringring as I’m not one for fancy jewellery and he didn’t accept my suggestion of a jumper – which I actually need.

He had also chosen an apron printed with cats from the catalogue of a store in town and asked CC to buy it as a present from the cats, accompanied by another typed message thanking me for looking after them (between the two cards in the photo).

His present was a watch as his old one keeps coming undone and falling off but we had to take it to have some links removed as it was much too big.

We had lunch at the hotel in the village where we go once a week and then we went to the pizzeria in the evening.  However,  neither of us was particularly hungry so, although the food was good, we struggled with just one course.

For our 20th Anniversary we had been for a ‘posh’ meal and stayed at a hotel but conversation had been virtually non-existent. Last night, we did actually talk to each other without arguing and he insisted that he loved me ‘as much as ever’ and that I could ‘have anything I wanted’. (Yes, we had had some alcohol).

I said I just wished everyone could feel more at ease with each other at home as, for example, no-one else feels comfortable coming in the lounge to watch television when he’s there.

“Oh, I don’t mind CC sitting there to watch TV” he said magnanimously, “so long as she doesn’t make a noise; and I just wish she wouldn’t laugh so loudly.”

What can one say. . . . . . . .

Feeling foolish

October 9, 2009

Imagine the scene: the bedroom lights refused to come on and there was a strange low-pitched buzzing  sound switchboardcoming from the ‘control panel’  in the garage.

CC and I found the offending switch and left it in the ‘off’ position but that meant that there was no light in the laundry room or Whale’s toilet – and there are no windows in either.

We tried switching it back on and there was no more noise but we decided to play safe and turn it off at night.

When I put it back on in the morning, lo and behold, the bedroom lights came on. However, only one of the four switches would actually operate them.

I rang Daniel, who knows everyone to ask if he could find us a reliable electrician. he came round the next evening, bless him, to look at the problem.

“It looks as though you’ll have to change all the switches” he said, and he called his mate who works for  EDF but does a bit of work ‘au noir’ to help people out.

Monsieur l’electrician came this evening and in a matter of seconds found the problem. switch

It seems that this double switch, one of which is for the outside light, was stuck. It should rebound each time it is used but it would remain in the ‘on’ or ‘off’ position and cut out all the other switches (each side of the bed and at the doorway).  He made it work but thought it would be better to change it eventually.

So we have light!


But I do feel a bit of an idiot for not understanding a pretty obvious principle.

Thank goodness September is over

October 1, 2009

It was with great relief that I turned the page on the calendar this morning because September was chock full with medical appointments and incidents including two trips to hospital for Whale, several follow-up examinations for Bear after his week in the diabetes unit  and umpteen physio sessions for Bear and for me.

The bout of ‘flu – or whatever it was – was over by the weekend although Bear milked the opportunity to stay in bed and be waited on until Monday.  Actually, he is no problem as an invalid – not really demanding  at all. He enjoys his own company, watching DVDs, reading or dozing and hardly ever calls me for anything.

October begins with Bear in the Polyclinic for his second cataract operation and there are several more visits to the opthalmologist for Jay and me as well but the month in general looks much ‘quieter’ until Jay’s friend from America comes to stay from the 29th until the middle of November; something we’re looking forward to very much as it’s several years since we’ve seen her.

Since there’s nothing much else to say here’s a link to some amusing newspaper reports: which I hope will make you smile.