Saturday, October 15, 2011

On the English language

From 'The Proust and the Squid' by Maryanne Wolfe

I take it you already know
Of touch and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, 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 is said likened, 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,
And 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, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I've hardly made a start.

A dreadful language? Why, man alive,
I'd learnt to talk it when I wax five.
And yet to read it, the more I tried,
I hadn't learnt it at fifty-five.

1 comment:

Lakshmi said...

This is what happens when you merge a Germanic language with a Roman one.