English pronunciation

Passed on by Paul Armstrong, this site (from 12/23/11), which purports to be about English pronunciation:

If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.

The poem is of course about English spelling, and the mapping from spelling to pronunciation. Corpse, corps, horse, worse; heart, beard, heard; and all that.

The poem is by Dutchman Gerald Nolst Trenité (1870-1946).

8 Responses to “English pronunciation”

  1. Arne Adolfsen Says:

    Banquet is not nearly parquet,
    Which exactly rhymes with khaki.

    Since when has “parquet” exactly rhymed with “khaki”?

  2. Bob Richmond Says:

    New to me, and wonderful. Amazingly well done verse, astonishingly good for a non-native speaker.

    I remember when I was in the Army close to 50 years ago, a Boston speaker who pronounced “khakis” like “car keys”. Took me quite a while to figure out what he was talking about.

  3. Will Says:

    I’ve been using a rather non-standard pronunciation of Terpsichore for some time, apparently. I’ve always rhymed it with ‘more’ and given it initial stress. That’s a new thing I’ve learned today.

  4. the ridger Says:

    There’s a a photo going around Facebook (here at George Takei’s page) playing on khakis/car keys

  5. the ridger Says:

    Will reminds me of my childhood, when I thought there was a name spelled Penelope pronounced /’pɛn ə loʊp/ and one spelled I didn’t know how but pronounce /pə ‘nɛl ə pi/.

    • Will Says:

      It was Persephone that tripped me up as a child. I wondered to my mother who in their right mind would name their child /ˈpɜsəfoʊn/

  6. arnold zwicky Says:

    Jerry Sadock on Facebook:

    Actually, dear mentor, if you pronounce every word correctly you will be reading English. You might have learned the trick that took seven years to teach me in Hebrew school – to read correctly a language I couldn’t even understand, let alone speak.

    Just to note the ambiguity of read here. Ordinarily the verb means ‘read with understanding’ — that’s what you would understand if I said “I can read Finnish” — but in certain contexts it can mean ‘convert text into pronunciation’, with no implication of understanding. I can in fact read Finnish in the latter sense. When, many years ago, I read (in this sense) a Finnish comic book handed to me by Jaana Karttunen, she (legitimately) felt cheated.

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