Pronunciation – A poem

Take a look at this clever poem below. It’s all about the difficulty that students of English have with the way that same types of spelling patterns are all said differently in English.

The poem is called ‘The Chaos’ by G. Nolst Trenité and as well as lots of words that cause problems for learners, it also contains some less common words that are not used much at all and can cause problems for native English speakers.

Try reading this poem aloud and try to say every word correctly.  If you can do this then  you probably have better pronunciation than a native English speaker!!!!!!!! Afterwards have a listen to the you-tube video and see where you may have gone wrong!

The Chaos, by G. Nolst Trenité

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.

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!!!

Now take a look at this audio version


2 thoughts on “Pronunciation – A poem

  1. Gem

    So cool!!

  2. Lilli Yang

    Wow!!! This is brilliant! Some of the words are very hard to say but with the help of the video you can say it at the same time.


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