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!
Quoted by Vivian Cook and Melvin Bragg 2004, and by Richard Krogh, in D Bolinger & D A Sears, Aspects of Language, 1981. The classic poem is Chaos in J17.
When the English tongue we speak. Why is break not rhymed with freak? Will you tell me why it's true We say sew but likewise few? And the maker of the verse, Cannot rhyme his horse with worse? Beard is not the same as heard Cord is different from word. Cow is cow but low is low Shoe is never rhymed with foe. Think of hose, dose,and lose And think of goose and yet with choose Think of comb, tomb and bomb, Doll and roll or home and some. Since pay is rhymed with say Why not paid with said I pray? Think of blood, food and good. Mould is not pronounced like could. Wherefore done, but gone and lone - Is there any reason known? To sum up all, it seems to me Sound and letters don't agree.
This was written by Lord Cromer, published in the Spectator of August 9th, 1902 and extracts were quoted in an SSS pamflet in 1930.
One reason why I cannot spell, Although I learned the rules quite well Is that some words like 'coup' and 'through' Sound just like 'threw' and 'flue' and 'who'; When 'oo' is never spelled the same, The 'juice' becomes a guessing game; And then I ponder over 'though', Is it spelled 'so', or 'throw', or 'bow', I mean the 'bow' that sounds like 'plow', And not the 'bow' that sounds like 'row' - The 'row' that is pronounced like 'roe'. I wonder, too, why 'rough' and 'tough', That sound the same as 'gruff' and 'muff', Are spelled like 'bough' and 'though', for they Are both pronounced a different way. And why can't I spell 'trough' and 'cough' The same as I do 'scoff' and 'golf'? Why isn't 'drought' spelled just like 'route', or 'doubt' or 'pout' or 'sauerkraut'? When words all sound so much the same To change the spelling seems a shame. There is no sense - see sound like cents - in making such a difference Between the sight and sound of words; Each spelling rule that undergirds The way a word should look will fail And often prove to no avail Because exceptions will negate The truth of what the rule may state; So though I try, I still despair And moan and mutter "It's not fair That I'm held up to ridicule And made to look like such a fool".
Attributed to Vivian Buchan, NEA Journal 1966/67, USA
We must polish the Polish furniture. He could lead if he would get the lead out. The farm was used to produce produce. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse. The soldier decided to desert in the desert. This was a good time to present the present. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes. I did not object to the object. The insurance was invalid for the invalid. The bandage was wound around the wound. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row. They were too close to the door to close it. The buck does funny things when the does are present. They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow. The wind was too strong to wind the sail. After a number of injections my jaw got number. Upon seeing the tear in my clothes I shed a tear. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests. How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend? I read it once and will read it agen I learned much from this learned treatise. I was content to note the content of the message. The Blessed Virgin blessed her. Blessed her richly. It's a bit wicked to over-trim a short wicked candle. If he will absent himself we mark him absent. I incline toward bypassing the incline.
I have a spelling checker, It came with my PC. It plane lee marks four my revue Miss steaks aye can knot sea. Eye ran this poem threw it, Your sure reel glad two no. Its vary polished in it's weigh. My checker tolled me sew. A checker is a bless sing, It freeze yew lodes of thyme. It helps me right awl stiles two reed, And aides me when eye rime. Each frays come posed up on my screen Eye trussed too bee a joule. The checker pours o'er every word To cheque sum spelling rule. Bee fore a veiling checker's Hour spelling mite decline, And if we're lacks oar have a laps, We wood bee maid too wine. Butt now bee cause my spelling Is checked with such grate flare, Their are know fault's with in my cite, Of nun eye am a wear. Now spelling does knot phase me, It does knot bring a tier. My pay purrs awl due glad den With wrapped word's fare as hear. To rite with care is quite a feet Of witch won should bee proud, And wee mussed dew the best wee can, Sew flaw's are knot aloud. Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays Such soft wear four pea seas, And why eye brake in two averse Buy righting want too pleas. Jerrold H. Zar.
Eye halve a spelling checker It came with my pea sea It plainly marques for my revue Miss steaks eye kin knot sea. Eye strike a key and type a word And weight four it to say Weather eye am wrong oar write It shows me strait a weigh. As soon as a mist ache is maid It nose bee fore two long And eye can put the error rite It's rare lea ever wrong. Eye have run this poem threw it Eye am shore your pleased two no It's letter perfect awl the weigh My checker tolled me sew.Margo Roark.
SPB Spring 1965 p24.
Owe that eye mite bee that be Winging hur weigh oar the see, Oar the waives sew bright and blew, With the fishes glinting threw, Sea-ing pour-poises at play, Here-ing the see-hoarses nay, Passing I-lands green and fare, With myrrh-mades on them hear and their, And sumtimes sea a killer whale Cinque a wore-ship with it's tale. Owe that eye mite bee as free Two go winging ore the see!
Bear and dear Share, I fear The pointless deceptivness Of there and here. Some and home Tomb and comb, Sin against the tongue Like from and whom. Howl and bowl Foul and soul, Mislead the ear Like doll and toll. Give and dive Live and thrive, Bewilder the moppet Of six or five. Love and hove Dove and strove Sound no more alike Than glove and cove. Pew and sew Do and go Fail expectation Like now and slow. Laid and said Must be read As if they rhymed With neighed and Ned.