Friday, 30 October 2009

/təˈmeɪtəʊ/ /təˈmɑtəʊ/

I give credit to non native English speakers. It's a lot harder to learn than it looks.

There's a bit of confusion about the origins of this poem. Some attribute it to George Bernard Shaw, another source said T.S.Watt. In any case it does a good job of highlighting how different the spelling of a word in English can be from its pronunciation:

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's 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,
And then there's dose 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, come, I've hardly made a start.

A dreadful language? Man alive,
I'd mastered it when I was five.


  1. I have this argument all the time. I forgot about this poem. thanks

  2. Ah well, I still stumble with some of these words.
    In any case it is still easier than a lot of other languages. Take Arabic where one word can be a sentence, try explaining that one to non Arabic speakers.

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