[ExI] Genes and the Great Vowel Shift

PJ Manney pjmanney at gmail.com
Sun Feb 24 23:57:23 UTC 2008

On Sun, Feb 24, 2008 at 2:55 PM, Tom Nowell <nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
> Also, while the written word may have a strong
> influence on some parts of a language, it doesn't
> necessarily follow that it will affect the spoken
> pronunciation. I don't know how accurate the factoid
> that "Cantonese and Mandarin are completely
> interchangeable when written down, but spoken very
> differently" is, but that would suggest writing hasn't
> affected the language of the people who invented paper
> too much. Norwegian has two written forms, and I don't
> know how much effect this has on the spoken language.
> I could read as many American novelists as I liked,
> and an American could read as many English authors as
> he liked, and it wouldn't affect our pronunciation.
>  I think changes in pronunciation are more likely due
> to radio and TV now, and the pace may well have
> accelerated. I'm certainly familiar with large amounts
> of americanisms thanks to LA's television industry,
> and many people around the world are familiar with the
> "mockney" accents of British gangster movies. I'm sure
> these media affect the vocabulary we're familiar with
> and expressions we use, but I don't know how much
> effect they have on pronunciation.

NATO (North American Treaty Organization) used to have an English
pronunciation test for their English language learners that consisted
of the following poem:

Dearest creature in creation,
Studying English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
It will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Pray console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it.

Just compare heart, beard, 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 plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sleeve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover~~~~~~~~;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

[Author: G. Nolst Trenité]

I hazard to guess many native speakers would have trouble with it.  If
you look at the words and their etimologies, you'll also notice how
many different places the English language comes from.

> Finally, to add that most serious of academic
> resources to my posting, here are some youtube clips
> to aid understanding of 20th century accents:
> http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=tQWPR9TM0Gk
> http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=byWI-eTzru4
> http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-u3j0d6iI_U

Thanks for the laugh!


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list