The skinhead of spelling, the slag of speech

Posted on Fri 18 Jul 2014 @ 6.59am UTC




Shortlink for this article: http://wp.me/pXuWK-JJ

WE HAVE a classic smoking gun that gives a sense of the chaos of English spelling and pronunciation — and the national or cultural preferences or habits that often lead to pointless (but hilarious) Internet fights.

It’s a 92-year-old poem.

“If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem,” wrote KYLEGETSGAYER, who posted it to Tickld.com about a month ago, “you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.”

In English, spelling is no accurate guide to pronunciation, and pronunciation isn’t a help to working out the spelling. (French and Italian also have this incompatible spelling/pronunciation feature.)

Instructions:

Notice that the poem itself is just a challenge. We’re not asking for a treatise or a book.

Just pronounce each word correctly. If you could manage the metre (the rhythmic structure) as well, so much the better.

It’s also up to you to judge whether the ‘90%’ claim is true or not — it’s a free world (even in unfree countries) and everybody’s entitled to their own opinions.

Warning:

The poem is LONG. If you start reading aloud, you have to commit.

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THIS is the poem

The Tickld version seems abridged. Full version below. Remarks and Question Time afterwards.

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say–said, pay–paid, laid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
Missiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining,
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.

From “desire”: desirableadmirable from “admire”,
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,

One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
Gertrude, German, wind and wind,
Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Discount, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Is your r correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
Buoyant, minute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
You’ll envelop lists, I hope,
In a linen envelope.

Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
To abjure, to perjure. Sheik
Does not sound like Czech but ache.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover.
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice,

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,

Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
But it is not hard to tell
Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
Has the a of drachm and hammer.
Pussy, hussy and possess,
Desert, but desert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,
Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker”,
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor”,
Making, it is sad but true,
In bravado, much ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.

Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
Mind! Meandering but mean,
Valentine and magazine.

And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,
Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
Tier (one who ties), but tier.

Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
Prison, bison, treasure trove,
Treason, hover, cover, cove,

Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.

Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet, buffet;
Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.

Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don’t mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny rhymes to unicorn,
Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude compared with proud
Is no better than McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
Troll and trolley, realm and ream,
Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
But you’re not supposed to say
Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
When for Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
Episodes, antipodes,
Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don’t monkey with the geyser,
Don’t peel ’taters with my razor,
Rather say in accents pure:
Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.

The th will surely trouble you
More than r, ch or w.
Say then these phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget ’em
Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,
Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight — you see it;
With and forthwith, one has voice,
One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does *. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry, fury, bury,
Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,
Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath.

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners
Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
Puisne, truism, use, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,
Put, nut, granite, and unite.

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, senate, but sedate.

Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific;
Tour, but our, dour, succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
Bona fide, alibi
Gyrate, dowry and awry.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with ally; yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!

Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess — it is not safe,
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf.

Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
Face, but preface, then grimace,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
Do not rhyme with here but heir.

Mind the o of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
With the sound of saw and sauce;
Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
Respite, spite, consent, resent.
Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.

A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation — think of Psyche! —
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
Won’t it make you lose your wits
Writing groats and saying “grits”?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington, and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

De Chaos (The Chaos) by Charivarius

(Reproduced extra ordinem from the site of Professor Ian D. Allen.)

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The poem’s author

Charivarius by Annie de Meester 1914

Portrait of ‘Charivarius’ by Annie de Meester, ca. 1914.

Charivarius (‘kah-ree-VAH-ri-us’) was the pen name of Dutch writer and traveller Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870–1946), who also wrote a number of other English pronunciation guides.

In 1922, Trenité published De Chaos to display the worst English spelling irregularities in poem format — and it quickly became an exposé of pronunciation pitfalls for native and non-native speakers alike.

The rhythm (metre) of the poem clearly indicates the emphasis of the words. The poem is famous for spreading terror as much as dismay among native English speakers.

The first version of the poem originally appeared in 1920 in Trenité’s English pronunciation textbook (Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen, 1920), printed in the pre-reform Dutch and long out of print.

In the 1920 version, Trenité had 800 highly idiosyncratic English spellings in 146 lines of text. The current (1993) version has 274 lines (above), published in 1992–93 by The English Spelling Society (TESS) as—

“… the most complete and authoritative version ever likely to emerge. […] This version is essentially the author’s own final text, as also published by New River Project in 1993 [sic].* A few minor corrections have however been made, and occasional words from earlier editions have been preferred. Following earlier practice, words with clashing spellings or pronunciations are here printed in italics.”

— Christopher Upward, “The Classic Concordance of Cacographic Chaos,” Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society, 1994/2 [redesignated J17], pages 27–30 (via The English Spelling Society)

* Gerard Nolst Trenité, The Chaos, 2nd edition (London: New River Project, 1995).

In his paper, Chris Upward traces the poem’s “chequered career” from a tattered copy passed on to a soldier in 1945 to its finalised version in the 1990s — and muses on the probable difficulties for the modern-day reader, like…

“[…] indeed a few words may even be unknown to today’s readers (how many will know what a ‘studding-sail’ is, or that its nautical pronunciation is ‘stunsail’?), and not every rhyme will immediately ‘click’ (‘grits’ for ‘groats’?); […]” — Upward, 1994 (ibid.)

Interestingly, Upward in 1986 presented an early, incomplete version of The Chaos matched against an early form of Cut Spelling (Simplified Spelling Society Newsletter, Summer 1986, pages 17–21).

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What’s so interesting about it?

Notice the poem is meant to be a challenge. It’s not mocking English spelling, as many people seem to imagine.

Many ways of pronouncing

no sneezingThere’s no correct way of reading this poem.

Regional accent differences alter the sound of the words and syllable stresses. A person from the north of England or North America tend to have flatter A‘s (moustache as “must-ash”) instead the more rounded A‘s of southerners (“moo-starsh”). Pronunciation varies more among people whose accents are not Received Pronunciation.

Generational differences also lead to variations. Older people who grew up between the 1940s and 1970s tend to pronounce ate as “ET” rather than the American “eight.” Younger people tend to switch pronunciations depending on context more than older folks (either as “eye-ther” and “ee-ther”).

As teaching or coaching material

microphoneThe poem would make marvellous voice/speech coaching material, especially for public speakers or actors in training.

“It would be interesting to know if Gerard Nolst Trenité, or anyone else, has ever actually used The Chaos to teach English pronunciation, since the tight rhythmic and rhyming structure of the poem might prove a valuable mnemonic aid. There could be material for experiments here: non-English-speaking learners who had practised reading parts of the poem aloud could be tested in reading the same problematic words in a plain prose context, and their success measured against a control group who had not practised them thru The Chaos.” — Upward, 1994 (ibid.)

In other words, check the pronunciation performance of learners with and without rehearsal on the poem (or before/after).

Shows up pronunciation differences

the letter RSome claim the rhymes don’t work. (They do.)

Where it doesn’t rhyme too well, it boils down to rhotic vs. non-rhotic pronunciation habits — which basically means British vs. American pronunciation.

(‘Rhotic’ means accents and dialects that pronounce the R-sound in all contexts. ‘Non-rhotic’ means those that drop the R-sound in certain specific contexts.)

So some rhymes don’t work for rhotic speakers (like the [North] Americans, Spaniards, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Thais, Indonesians and Mongolians):—

(AmE vs. BrE)

Balmoral — laurel (BAL-mor-raal — lor′olbah-MAWrl — law-r′l)
four — Arkansas (forr — arr-ken-sawfaw — ah′ken-saw)
area — malaria (eh-ree-ah — ma-lair′ee-aheh-re′ah — m′leh-re′ah)
broad — reward (brord — ree-warrd ♦ brawd — r′wawd)
enough — cuff (EE-nuf — kuf ♦ en′UFF — kUFF)
chair — mayor (chayrr — MAY-orr ♦ cheh’uh — MAY′uh)

Non-rhotic speakers will have less trouble generally, but then again, these probably won’t work in British English:—

canary — aerie (kan-nair-ree — air-ree ♦ k′nair-ree — ay-ree)
food — would (food — wood ♦ food — woo′d)

Some of the rhyming just totally depends

tear — teer (as in weeping tears) ♦ teh′r (as in wear and tear)
bass — like base (for the musical instrument bass) ♦ b′ass (for the fish bass)

But it’s hard for most of us today to rhyme bass to grimace (‘grimmis’).

But that’s the whole point of the poem — that even within the same language, every native speaker pronounce words very differently.

Persuasive evidence for English spelling reform

pitman shorthandNative and non-native English speakers have always found the irregular properties of English spelling a source of great headache. Supporters of simplified English spelling have used Trenité’s poem to promote reforms.

“Readers will notice that ‘The Chaos’ is written from the viewpoint of the foreign learner of English: it is not so much the spelling as such that is lamented, as the fact that the poor learner can never tell how to pronounce words encountered in writing (the poem was, after all, appended to a book of pronunciation exercises). — Upward, 1994 (ibid.)

A good point — although we are not exactly sure anyone wants to go as far as adopting Cut Spelling that TESS seems to want. Or go through the rigmorole of learning one more system like the unintuitive IPA (which isn’t a spelling or pronunciation guide, by the way).

“With English today the prime language of international communication, this unpredictability of symbol–sound correspondence constitutes no less of a problem than the unpredictability sound–symbol correspondence [that] is so bewailed by native speakers of English. Nevertheless, many native English-speaking readers will find the poem a revelation: the juxtaposition of so many differently pronounced parallel spellings brings home the sheer illogicality of the writing system in countless instances that such readers may have never previously noticed.” — Upward, 1994 (ibid.)

Great fun to get others to come up with their own gems

swimming resizedLike these two comeback to the Tickld post:—

Dearest writer of this ditty,
While you’ve made a point most witty,
It would have been far sweeter
If you knew a thing called metre;
And be strong in persuasion
If your stats had a citation.

— from Learninator

Awesome cheers.
Tried, nearly died,
Now my brain has liquefied.

But I boast and raise toast
For I managed more than most.

Stumbled on a few,
But that’s nothing new,
And now I need to spew.

But I must desist,
For at me you’ll be pissed,
And I’m sure you get the gist.

So now to the shower I head,
For soon I shall be dead,
And I want to be cleanBefore acts obscene,
And I must think about what I’ve said.

— from skankopickle

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QUESTION TIME

Is there an audio version?

British accent (male): https://soundcloud.com/drphallus/english-pronounciation

British accent (female): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6JzYkj5Pns

Listen to how a USA person (originally from the Philippines) recites the poem (in super heavy rhotic fashion):— https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10202716415245335.

Unfortunately, the man (first audio) mispronounced a number of words:—

pronunciation — pro-NUN-see-ay-shun (not pro-NOUN-see-ay-shun)
aver — ah-FUR: 2nd syllable stressed (not AY-fer)
viscous — VISS-kuss (not vicious: ‘vishus’)
lichen — same as the word liken (not LIT-chen)
indict — “indite,” rhymes with in sight — the C is silent (not in-DICK′t)

Lots of native speakers misread viscous for vicious, mispronounce pronunciation, and over-syllable’ize common words like position even in non-RP.

How difficult is this poem?

Length is the only thing difficult about this poem. For most people, it’s just too long. We tried it on our office colleagues — 80% got about 7 lines in, could actually pronounce every word, but no patience to do the rest.

Yet the poem wouldn’t have such high global standing if it hadn’t been this long. The point is that it makes us realise how we human beings have made life difficult for ourselves.

“I’m taking a French class in uni, because I just couldn’t be bother[ed] to try in high school. I’m realizing now how difficult English is.” — comment on Tickld

There’s the matter of the metre, of course. If you pronounce the words perfectly, the poem actually has perfect metre.

We were able to pronounce every word ‘correctly.’ We do have to admit we slipped up once or twice because of the verse form of it (until we got into the tempo of things).

I don’t understand how the rhyming works.

Look at the line before or after the word. Rhyme it to that last word on that line — will work generally.

It’s not always the case, but half of the words in the poem are pronounceable in several different ways — which, to some of us, seems to defeat the purpose of putting them in a rhyming poem.

Hiccough isn’t a word.

Wrong. A lot of people insists hiccough isn’t a word. Hiccough is the traditional spelling, now mostly superseded by the simplified hiccup.

Like so many things in life, if enough people simplify (or misspell) something, the standard spelling eventually dies out. This poem is 92 years old, so it makes sense that we see older spellings in it.

I don’t even know those words.

We won’t hold that against you. Lots of people don’t know that many of those words exist, so most of us don’t know how they should be enunciated, much less pronounce them effectively in our own regional accents.

Victual (vit′l, vittel) is outdated because provisions has now generally replaced it — and many who do know it have been saying it wrong (“fik-chu’ull”)

Many of those words are unknown today simply because—

(a) the things they represent no longer exist or are called by some other word, and

(b) education nowadays is no longer as literary as before.

I’ve seen them before, but don’t know how they sound.

We won’t hold that against you either.

Some are proper names — the rest are just words rarely seen or heard used if at all (drachm, puisne, etc). Some are outdated (pshaw, threepence, twopence, victual).

(Stay tuned for our next post for the sounds of some of the poem’s words.)

A lot of people in non-English-speaking countries learn English almost exclusively through the written form. They get classroom ‘orals’ (speech practice) or real-life conversations only occasionally.

Some people are so delusional that they go as far as to wait till their pronunciation becomes ‘perfect’ first and then converse with others — a barmy approach that never works for any language.

And this is why I hate phonics. And why I memorized words and not sounds. To me, phonics is basically, “Here’s a rule. Now here are the 1,000,000,000 exceptions to that rule. You have now forgotten the colour yellow.” — comment on Tickld

That’s not how it’s pronounced here!

gibberish mapThat’s always an ongoing problem — geography, culture, history, generational variations. One man’s pronunciation is another man’s mispronunciation, isn’t it? It comes down to the times we were born in, where we grew up speaking the language, and where we learnt it from (and how).

‘Logical’ reasoning

More than 3,000 years of formal logic and you want us to ditch it for THIS???

Schedule (BrE vs. AmE) is the classic example. In many parts of Asia, many will grudgingly utter the British pronunciation but only for classroom practice. The British ‘noise’ is just plain wrong in their minds — after all, school, scheme and schizophrenia all have the sk- sound so it follows that schedule must also be a “sked.” They’ve been taught that way, and that’s how they’ll teach others — end of discussion.

And it’s hard to argue against that. Many sch- English words really ARE pronounced sk-, except for words like schadenfreude (which doesn’t count because it’s a German import).

Different times, different geographies

The classic examples are the hard and soft G sound, ate, eaten, fatten, either, neither, extraordinary, primary, primarily, secondary and secondarily — plus a whole host of proper place names.

Among older Asians and nearly all Singaporeans, Gilbey’s Gin is still “jill-bees,” but “gill-bees” to everyone else.

Similarly, Hong Kong parents prefer the modern-looking name Jeffrey (ca. 1499) — they’re apt to mispronounce the traditional Geoffrey (ca. 1066) as “goffree” (or even “goofy”). The hard-g sound in Cantonese invariably transliterates to the letter G whereas soft-g is to the letter J or CH, so the letter G to a Cantonese speakers gets hard-g.

Likewise in China, they’re apt to say stinging (“stin-jing”) and the Stinger missile (“stin-jer”) as in stingey (‘miserly’). They nearly always pronounce the letter Q with a ch- sound because that’s how it’s done in the Hanyu Pinyin system.

“Well, and the fact that people who learnt the language that way say ‘haitch’ instead of ‘aitch’ when pronouncing the letter H. Those people can burn in hell for eternity.” — comment on Tickld

We will also notice among older generations of British and American speakers will say—

ate (et)
eaten (ee′n)
fatten (fa′n)
either (eye-ther)
neither (nye-ther)
extraordinary (ek-straw-den′ri)
primary (pry-mry)
primarily (pry-mr′li)
secondary (sek-un′dri)
secondarily (sek-un′dri-li)
etc

Pronounce as it’s spelled

Many people in many parts of Asia (notably the Chinese) fall for the biggest pitfall in English — pronouncing literally to the spelling.

It’s forgivable because there just not enough native English speakers with good enunciation, RP, etc, to go round in Asia as teachers. Indeed, many senior schoolmasters involved in hiring English teachers are themselves generally not up to high standard in speaking English or are not native speakers, so they’re not precisely able to judge the “English language-ness” of their applicants.

In the end, many Asians will literally pronounce Wednesday (wed-nes-day), heterogeneous (“hetero genius”), homogeneous (“homo genius”), etc, instead of the correct sounds. They don’t understand why news isn’t the same in newspaper either. Then they fall flat on their faces when they encounter oddities like Kiribati (the former Gilbert Islands) and Kiritimati (Christmas Island).

Social class

The RP of the English upper class (“Upper RP”) tends to be at least one fewer syllable (along with weak final -i or -ee sound) than the dictionary-recommended pronunciation.

More on all these matters in our next post.

Any words that LEOS would like put in?

We have a couple that really kills. Wait for our next post.

Final words?

“English is a terrible language; thank goodness it’s my first.” (English axiom)

You may not know the English language, but it sure knows you.

Mark Twain Spelling Reform

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WHAT ELSE TO READ NOW

Why is English spelling exceptionally irregular? | The English Spelling Society | 2011

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WORKS CITED OR REFERENCED

ALLEN, Ian D. (undated). The Chaos of Gerard Nolst Trenité. Online article, undated.

BELL, Masha (2011). Why is English spelling exceptionally irregular? March 2011. Online article. London: The English Spelling Society.

LEE. R. (1988). Author’s private notes and archives (Rolodex #3, Ling/Lang #5 tabs). Unpublished & uncirculated.

THE SURNAME DATABASE (undated). Last name: Jeffrey. Online article, undated. Online Name Research: Michael Brook/Charlie Brook, 1980–2014.

TRENITÉ, Gerard Nolst (1920). Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoenfeningen. 4th edition. Haarlem, The Netherlands: H.D. Tjeenk Willink & Zoon N.V.

TRENITÉ, Gerard Nolst (1995). The Chaos. 2nd edition (12 pages). London: New River Project, 89A Petherton Road, London N5 2QT. ISBN 1-897750-07-1 and ISBN 978-1-870750-07-3.

UPWARD, Christopher (1986). Author Unknown. Simplified Spelling Society Newsletter. Summer 1986 [redesignated J3], pages 17–21. London: The English Spelling Society.

UPWARD, Christopher (1994). The Classic Concordance of Cacographic Chaos. Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society. 1994/2 [redesignated J17], pages 27–30. London: The English Spelling Society.

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Citation for this article:—
LEE, R. (2014). ‘The skinhead of spelling, the slag of speech.’ Learn English or Starve. Blog article, 18 June 2014, 06:59 HKT. http://wp.me/pXuWK-JJ.

© Learn English or Starve, 2014. (B14213)

Changelog
Updated 18 July 2014 (typo fixes)
Updated 01 Sep 2014 (Dutch typo fix)

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