Excerpt from “I Before E (Except after C)” by Judy Parkinson ~~Pronunciation~~

picture-IBeforeE-ParkinsonThe Vagaries of English Spelling
The English language is full of complexities and contradictions, which can make spelling and pronunciation of certain words quite difficult to predict. Here is an anonymous poem that cleverly highlights a number of problem words that all learners of English, young and old, should watch out for in particular.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, lough 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.
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 Comment

Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “I Before E (Except after C)” by Judy Parkinson ~~Pronunciation~~

  1. I’ve seen that this poem is entitled:
    “Recovering Sounds from Orthography”
    “Brush up Your English”
    It has been attributed to T.S. Watt appearing in the Guardian in 1954.

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