LINGUIST List 15.260

Sat Jan 24 2004

Qs: English Spelling/Pronunciation Poem

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  1. Alan Roberts, looking for pronunciation poem

Message 1: looking for pronunciation poem

Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2004 19:09:21 -0500
From: Alan Roberts <>
Subject: looking for pronunciation poem

I was looking on the Internet for a poem that I heard a LONG time ago
regarding the various pronunciations of "ough" in English. I made contact
with a person who suggested that I post an inquiry here.

The poem was similar to the one below that I did find, but it was different
(and, if I recall accurately, better). It introduced a pronunciation of
"ough" and then had it misused by a student, increasing his frustration
until he finally "hit him with a rough" (rock). Anyone familiar with such a
- -------------------

"Charles Battell Loomis, quoted in _Our Accursed Spelling_, edited by
E.O. Vaile." Blancke, Wilton W. (1953), _General Principles of
Language and Experiences in Language, Revised_, ed. by Richard
D. Abraham (Boston: D.C. Heath).

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."
- -------------------------------------------------
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