Friday, January 15, 2010

Hints on Pronunciation for Foreigners

A dreadful language? We are sure most of you find English pronunciation difficult. Here is a piece of evidence supporting that opinion. Use the "Listen to this post" tool and you can hear the text while you are reading it. You may find some interesting surprises!
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, laugh 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 in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
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, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive.
I’d mastered it when I was five.

When the English tongue we speak,
Why is “break” not rhymed with “freak”?
Will you tell me why it’s true?
We say “sew” but likewise “few”?
And the maker of a verse
Cannot cap his “horse” with “worse”?
“Beard” sounds not the same as “heard”;
“Cord” is different from “word”;
“Cow” is “cow” but “low” is “low”,
“Shoe” is never rhymed with “foe”,
Think of “hose” and “whose” and “lose”,
And think of “goose” and yet of “choose”.
Think of “comb” and “tomb” and “bomb”;
“Doll” and “roll” and “home” and “some”;
And since “pay” is rhymed with “say”,
Why not “paid” with “said”, I pray?
We have “blood” and “food” and “good”,
Wherefore “done” but “gone” and “lone”?
Is there any reason known?
And, in short, it seems to me
Sound and letters disagree.

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