LINGUIST List 15.1034

Mon Mar 29 2004

Sum: Pronunciation Poem

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <stevelinguistlist.org>


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  1. Alan Roberts, "ough" poem

Message 1: "ough" poem

Date: Sun, 28 Mar 2004 21:43:01 -0500
From: Alan Roberts <a.robertsadelphia.net>
Subject: "ough" poem

I apologize for taking this long to put up a summary. I got quite a
number of responses to my request for help (Linguist 15.260) in
locating a particular "ough" pronunciation poem that was read in my
high school English class almost 40 (!) years ago in San Antonio,
Texas. [Yes, to all you Brits out there, I know we don't speak English
in Texas. In fact, most Americans say we don't even speak American
- - just Texan. But, in any case, some of us do understand a
smattering of English and a few of us can even appreciate a clever
rhyme.]

The most common response was "The Chaos".

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.
Pray console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear sew it.

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.
Feoffer 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!!!

-----------

This is a delightful poem, but it was not the one I was seeking.

----------

Likewise, I received a reference to the following:

I'm taught p-l-o-u-g-h
Shall be pronounced "Plow."
"Zat's easy when you know," I say,
"Mon Anglais I'll get through."

My teacher say zat in zat case
O-u-g-h is "oo."
And zen I laugh and say to him
"Zees Anglais make me cough."

He say, "Not coo, but in zat word
O-u-g-h is `off.'"
O sacre bleu! Such varied sound
Of words make me hiccough.

He says, "Again my friend is wrong;
O-u-g-h is `uff.'"
I say, "I try to spik your words,
I can't pronounce them, though."

"In time you'll learn, but now you're wrong;
O-u-g-h is `owe'!"
"I'll try no more, I shall go mad,
I'll drown me in ze lough."

--------------

This one seemed familiar, but I recalled a final line where the student "hit
him with a rough" (rock).

--------------

Well, I finally got two responses with the following:

O-U-G-H

by Charles Battell Loomis



I'm taught p-l-o-u-g-h
Shall be pronounced "plow."
"Zat's easy w'en you know," I say,
"Mon Anglais, I'll get through!"

My teacher say zat in zat case,
O-u-g-h is "oo."
And zen I laugh and say to him,
"Zees Anglais make me cough."

He say "Not 'coo' but in zat word,
O-u-g-h is 'off,''"
"Oh, ______! Such varied sounds
Of words make me hiccough!"

He say, "Again mon frien' ees wrong;
O-u-g-h is 'up'
In hiccough." Zen I cry, "No more,
You make my t'roat feel rough."

"Non, non!" he cry, "You are not right;
O-u-g-h is 'uff.'"
I say, "I try to spik your words,
I cannot spik zem though."

"In time you'll learn, but now you're wrong!
O-u-g-h is 'owe'"
"I'll try no more, I s'all go mad,
I'll drown me in ze lough!"

"But ere you drown yourself," said he,
"O-u-g-h is 'ock.'"
He taught no more, I held him fast
And killed him wiz a rough.

------------

Eureka! That's it!

------------
I also include below one other that I particularly enjoyed.

I found this poem by Rosemary Chen in FORUM, vol. XXIV No. 2, 1986. I hope
this is what you're looking for.

Enough Is Enough

Four letters cause me disillusion
OUGH makes phonetic confusion
Four simple letters with four pronunciations
Make learning English tough for Asians.

OUGH has no logic, no rule
Or rhyme or rhythm; it will fool
All who struggle to master expression
English may cause thorough depression.

I pour some water in a trough
I sneeze and splutter, then I cough.
And with a rough hewn bough
My muddy paddy fields I plough.

Loaves of warm bread in a row
Crispy crusts and doughy dough.
Now, my final duty to do
And then my chores will all be through.

My lament is finished, even though
Learning this word game is really slow.
It is so difficult, it's very rough
Learning English is really tough.

If a trough was a truff
And a plough was a pluff
If dough was duff
And though was thuff
If cough was cuff
And through was thruff
I would not pretend, or try to bluff,
But of OUGH I've had enough

--------------

Many thanks to all who responded.

Regards,
Alan Roberts
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