The Chaos Of English Pronunciation by Gerard Nolst Trenite

Cover for The chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenite

Cover for The chaos, by Dutch author Gerard Nolst TreniteThe Chaos by Gerald Nolst Trenité, 1920. (Trenite also used the nom de plume Charivarius). The original had 146 lines and appeared in the appendix of his book ‘Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen’. What is said to be the most complete copy, as published by The English Spelling Society, has 274 lines.

There are lots of versions about, mostly shortened. The one most commonly copied to places like Facebook and Flickr is around 112 lines and has errors like ‘Fe0ffer’ for ‘Feother’. (Not an easy word and obscure enough that I didn’t have a clue what it was!)

The version below I discovered via a link on Wikipedia and shamelessly lifted from in case it disappears, as these things do. If you follow the link the poster goes into a lot more detail about the poem and the author – far more than Wikipedia.

The book is long out of print, though I could possibly find a copy if I searched long enough. Needless to say Amazon didn’t have it listed, nor did anyone have a tattered copy up on ebay. I did glance around a few specialist web sites like Alibris, AbeBooks and the comparison site Used Book Search but as none of them recognised the book it’s going to be very rare.

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”: desirable-admirable 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!

(The poem itself is in the public domain and the copy above is better formatted elsewhere. Said writer, possibly Chris upward, adds:
This version is essentially the author’s own final text, as also published by New River Project in 1993. 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.

If you want to hear it pronounced out loud head towards Books should be Free where, so far, 13 people have uploaded their reading.

You can also watch the youtube clip below, though I’d sure there’s plenty of others if this one disappears.

Web design – 16 questions you should be asking for your business plan

The web design questionnaire below is part of a business plan feasibility study towards my ILM Level 2 Certificate in Enterprise. These are the questions a prospective web company should be asking themselves and a range of potential clients to ascertain whether the market exists and is viable. It excludes other factors such as the level and quality of the local and regional competition to focus on the basic analysis – is there enough work to go around. It does not wholly address the other two sides of the process, namely the specific questions you would ask an actual client, which center around functionality and creativity, nor those that a business should be asking a developer, which are or should be focused on results (the why of wanting their site) and on ownership (of domains and content).

I would use Survey Monkey for this but as the free plan is limited to just 10 questions and I’ve no need at present for the upgrades (from £24 a month) here’s a form instead. If you could fill in it, that would be helpful. Note that this is an academic and informative exercise, nothing more, hence not asking for any contact information.

Web design questionnaire

16 questions for your business plan when thinking of starting a web design company
  • (This is different to the above in that it focuses on how people find someone in general, rather than you in particular. Giving an example, if you are a plumber are you aware of where people turn to first after driving a nail through a pipe and flooding the kitchen?)
    (This places more emphasis on correct and precise use of keywords and tags and on market analysis. It is not a one-off task. Getting a good ranking on Google is possible, keeping it there requires a great deal more time and effort (and money, potentially))
    (For example a business consultancy may want a certain amount of style but is primarily interested in getting a message across while a web site for a teen band may want a lot more colour and imagery)
    (This can be about the type of layout you prefer (full width vs 3 column) and be as simple as wanting your Facebook feed adding to a column on your blog or a slider adding to your front page, but can get involved when you start talking about membership and eCommerce and security issues).
  • (Please say whether the value you have in mind is per hour, per month, per year or per package/contract)

Diablo 3 – Reaper of Souls

I don’t actually have my expansion yet (shipping delays), this is just some advance thoughts on the changes to the game after seeing a nerd rage rant on Amazon: BECAUSE THERE IS A SUCKER NEPHALEM BORN EVERY MINUTE?

I’ll not copy it all here as (unless it’s removed) you can follow the link above and read the guys meltdown.…

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Colour Blindness and Web design – intro

Why bother ?

"Hmmm ? Never thought about it."

"Why bother going to all that trouble, it’s not like it affects many folk…"

"Well, they can’t see properly, nothing we can do about that, is there?"

"Looks fine to me and that’s what matters!"

Given that you are here, reading this, I assume and hope none of the above applies to you, so let’s get down to business.…

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Colour Blindness and Web design – charts

Colour Charts showing visible spectrums

Chart showing spectrums for colour blind people

The standard websafe colour palette:

The standard websafe colour palette

Same palette seen with Deuteranope colourblindness:

The standard websafe colour palette, as seen by someone with Deuteranope colourblindness

Same palette seen with Protanope colourblindness:

The standard websafe colour palette, as seen by someone with Protanope colourblindness

(To find: Tritan palette)

Colour blindness and web design menu :

[ Intro ] [ Charts ] [ Conditions ] [ Examples ] [ Links ]…

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Colour Blindness and Web design – Conditions

Forms of colorblindness

Normal vision

All three cones types are present and working normally

Mildly colour blind
Anomalous trichromasy
A mild colour deficiency or weakness affecting 6.3% of men and 0.37% of women. One or more of the three cones light-sensitive pigments are not quite right, affecting the balance and brightness of colours:

Mild trouble with red.…

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